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10 famous Appalachian Trail hikers

May 18, 2011, 1:23 p.m.
Bill Bryson

Photo: ZUMA PRESS

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Bill Bryson

The image of an average AT hiker is likely one of a young, fit outdoorsy type, but travel writer Bill Bryson sought to change all that when he and his childhood friend, Stephen Katz, set out to hike the AT in 1998. Bryson writes that he hoped the trail would get him fit after years of "waddlesome sloth," and although he was only in his mid-40s, he claims to have "a body that's much older." He describes his friend, the doughnut-addicted Katz, as bringing to mind "Orson Welles after a very bad night." The story of this out-of-shape pair's attempted thru-hike — Bryson and Katz finished roughly half the trail — can be found in the book "A Walk in the Woods," a best-seller that inspired many a lazy American to hit the trail. The book takes a humorous look at the trail's many characters, delves into the history of the AT and makes a plea for its conservation.