What Mountains Teach
by Michael Herrick

"At this personal moment, I didn’t want to talk to anyone so happy . . . I was coming apart."

As Walt Newman’s fortieth birthday approaches, he is increasingly discontent with his life. He and his wife Cathy have grown apart, and he isn’t communicating well with his two teenaged daughters. He’s grown tired of his thankless job as an educator, a job with a salary he must supplement by driving a limousine at night. When he discovers an old travel journal written during a hike of the Appalachian Trail, he decides he must again hike the famed pathway. Walt begins his 1000-mile journey with the extra forty pounds of a sedentary life and the emotional weight of a marriage grown cold. Troubled by the growing distance between himself and his wife and daughters, he looks to the Appalachian Trail and the miles of solitary hiking to afford him the time to discover what it is he really wants from life.

Herrick’s novel of a man’s search for self-discovery during a mid-life crisis is written with honesty and clarity. The novel delves into the innermost thoughts of a man coming to terms with life choices he now questions. As Walt continues on his journey, readers are given glimpses of the man he was twenty years prior when he first made the trek as "Strider." The author’s love for the mountain trails is evident as his protagonist traverses the hot and humid landscape of the trail during summer. Herrick writes of the mountain’s beauties and dangers in such descriptive passages that readers can almost feel the damp air and hear the buzz of mosquitoes. Anyone interested in the true essence of the Appalachian Trail and the people who brave the elements to hike it will enjoy this one.

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