Eclectic Book Readers On The Appalachian Trail

THREE HUNDRED ZEROES readers are an eclectic bunch. They mirror, very much, the hikers that one meets along the Appalachian Trail. I was rather surprised by the makeup of the thru-hikers and their backgrounds.

There seemed to be two primary groups, the “Twenty to Thirty-somethings,” and then a big spread to the next large group, people of retirement age. Of course there were people of all ages thru-hiking, but there was a preponderance of those two groups.

It makes sense, the younger ones have not yet settled into a specific life style, or career, and the older ones have often left their career behind and are setting out into uncharted territory. In some ways both groups have more in common than not.

Eclectic bunch? They certainly were, there was an abundance of people from the medical profession, especially nurses, some doctors and emergency medical technicians (EMT's). If someone yelled, “Is there a doctor in the house?” they might actually get an affirmative answer. My own career background was well represented, there was a plethora of engineers and specifically electrical engineers. Civil engineers were in well represented and I met chemical and mechanical engineers along the way. 

Other careers encountered were bankers, real estate agents, automobile sales/mechanics, chefs, cooks, wait staff, and military retirees. Many of these people had hobbies that we're interesting as well: ham radio, computers, model railroading, archery, volunteering, birding and pottery were just a few. 

The one common bond that I found for all of these people was that the vast majority liked to read. They were reading all along the trail. I was amazed at how many books were being carried out there! As I note in THREE HUNDRED ZEROES, the hikers were making every effort to reduce weight and yet they still carried heavy books. In one shelter I even observed a book that someone had trimmed off all of the margins, and removed the cover just to reduce weight.

When my book was first published, the two groups that really primed the reader pump were the ham radio operators and the hikers. I'll be forever thankful to them. I hope that they, in turn, really enjoyed the story. Judging by the fan mail, that seems to be the case. 

Since my hike of the Appalachian Trail the Kindle, Nook and other electronic readers have become sensationally popular. I can only imagine that they will become the gold standard of reading equipment. Hopefully, the hikers won't be removing the covers from the readers to save weight.

By the way, if you're looking for a decent Christmas gift, check out the special this month, on the book WEB PAGE. Any two copies of THREE HUNDRED ZEROES or SKYWALKER can be ordered for the price of a single copy, $17.95 plus shipping. Both books are signed, but I only have a limited number of copies of SKYWALKER.

As the ham radio operators say, “73,” which means “regards and I'll see you later.”

Dennis, K1
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