Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Walk in the Woods and The Way

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a neighbor about favorite hikes in Boulder County and Rocky Mt. National Park and he told me about The Way, a 2010 movie starring Martin Sheen.  Sheen plays a stick-in-the-mud doctor who goes to Spain to retrieve the body of his estranged son after he dies just as he begins to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known in English as The Way of St James, in the French Pyrenees.  The father, struggling with grief and guilt, decides to make the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain on foot. 

For the most part, The Way is a quiet movie, with the main characters often walking in silence or talking about, or trying to talk about, what has driven them to make the pilgrimage.  Some of the reasons are spiritual, some physical, some emotional, some undefineable.  I found myself thinking about this movie for days afterward, longing to go on pilgrimage myself.

Since that really isn't practical right now, I did the next best thing.  I reread Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, about his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail and which resulted in a wonderfully funny, interesting, and inspiring book.  I read it many years ago, shortly after if first came out and was my first Bryson.  Like most firsts, it remains my favorite of his books.

The big difference between reading it now and reading it a decade or more ago is that I now hike regularly, though I am not a backpacker and am still awed by thru hikers or go for days, weeks, or even months, hiking the AT and mostly camping along the way. 

Bryson's stories about his fellow hikers make for fun reading, and his history of the AT is interesting, though I think he unjustly gives the National Forest Service a bad rap. 

I was pretty excited to find talk of a movie, to be directed by Robert Redford, based on A Walk in the Woods.  The talk has been going on for a few years, but I think it would make a terrific movie and would be a nice point-counterpoint to The Way


  1. Thanks for putting this book on my radar. I also love to walk and hike the woods. While not a hard core backpacker either I do find this activity to be an important aspect of my life.

    A movie on this subject could be so good. I think that Redford ahas the potential to do a great job with it.

  2. AWITW is one of my favorites. I remember a favorite part was when he was reading the advice about what to do if you encounter a bear. Too funny.

    Favorite hikes in RMNP? I've hiked to Estes Cone a few times & loved it. My little brother and I hiked up Twin Sisters peak on his birthday in 2004. Great memories!


  3. I liked this book a lot, and even more Bryson's Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid -- Bryson's my age and I could so relate to this memoir...LOL

    Hope you had a great summer Jane.