But I got a great deal else from the experience. I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for the wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn't know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home.
But I love to drink. I can't help it. I mean, I love it Bryson-love the taste, love that buzz you get when you've had a couple, love the smell and feel of the taverns. I miss dirty jokes and the click of pool balls in the background, and that kind of bluish, under lit glow of a bar at night.
Everyone has a supremely low moment somewhere along the AT, usually when the urge to quit the trail becomes almost overpowering. The irony of my moment was that I wanted to get back on the trail and didn't know how. I hadn't lost just Katz, my boon companion, but my whole sense of connectedness to the trail. I had lost my momentum, my feeling of purpose. In the most literal way I needed to find my feet again.
Everywhere throughout New England you find old, tumbledown field walls, often in the middle of the deepest, most settled- looking woods- a reminder of just how swiftly nature reclaims the land in America.
Four times I was honked at for having the temerity to proceed through town without the benefit of metal.
Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.
I turned to my own bunk and examined it with a kind of appalled fascination. If the mattress stains were anything to go by, a previous user had not so much suffered from incontinence as rejoiced in it. He had evidently included the pillow in his celebrations.
I wanted to quit and to do this forever, sleep in a bed and in a tent, see what was over the next hill and never see a hill again. All of this all at once, every moment, on the trail or off.
What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die of course. Literally shit myself lifeless.
When I awoke it was daylight. The inside of my tent was coated in a curious flaky rime, which I realized after a moment was all of my nighttime snores, condensed and frozen and pasted to the fabric, as if into a scrapbook of respiratory memories.
More Bill Bryson Quotations (Based on Topics)
Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail" Quotes - View All Bill Bryson Quotations
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