Second-Best Thing to Being There

Southbound (The Barefoot Sisters, #1)Not just an account of daily life hiking the Appalachian Trail, The Barefoot Sisters Southbound puts the pack on your shoulders and the terrain under your feet.

Sisters Lucy and Susan Letcher take on the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail, something only the truly adventure-hardy do. But they add their own twist to the trek: They decide to go barefoot. It was never about prestige – in fact, they were surprised when their fame spread up and down the trail. Barefoot was simply the way they’d always explored the outdoors. “As long as it’s fun,” they promised each other. “As long as it’s comfortable.”

While every good travel-adventure memoir will describe the sights and sounds, few will dwell on the feel of the changing landscapes beneath your feet. This book connected me to the Trail in a way none other could have.

While Lucy and Susan – traveling under the trail names Isis and jackrabbit – frequently ask themselves whether they have what it takes to finish the Trail, I can only marvel at their stamina. First, hiking the Appalachian Trail. Second, hiking it barefoot. Third, hiking despite injuries. (jackrabbit, I feel for ya. I’ve had a twisted hip. You were INSANE.) Fourth, hiking barefoot with frost and snow coming on. And finally, hiking through one of the worst winters the locals can remember.

Along the way, the sisters meet a host of hikers who soon become like family. Together, they learn to overcome differences and even to depend on one another for survival. Throughout the journey, Isis and jackrabbit weigh the pros and cons of “hiking your own hike” versus seeking companionship on the trail. The Appalachian Trail itself becomes a 2,000-mile study on the respective beauties of independence and comradery.

Well done, girls. On both your hike, and your book.