Hikers journey through nature, self-discovery in ‘End to Ending’

Kirstin Cook, Editor-in-Chief

It’s not about the beginning or the end, it’s about the journey.

This is the message the book “End to Ending: an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker’s Story” gives while telling the story of the author’s hike along the 2,000 mile path.

Tanner Critz told the story of his six and a half month-long trip from Georgia to Maine. But, this tale is about much more than walking. It’s about his self-realization as he transforms into his trail name, Wayah, and the memorable experiences he has making close friends along the way.

Critz, a young college student, starts off his trek alone. But, he’s not alone for long, as he meets up with a band of various hikers with distinct personalities.

The new acquaintances join Critz to form their own hiking group, the Vikings. The group builds a sense of camaraderie based on their support and reliance during the strenuous travel.

You begin to feel like you’re one of the Vikings as you follow them along. They create a tradition of sharing potluck camp food over little camp stoves, write inside jokes through the Appalachian Trail shelter journals and build other memories that you can’t help but feel a part of.

Despite the Vikings’ man-bonding antics, there’s a serious, emotional strain underneath the whole story. There’s a recurring reflection of personal growth, and the ever-looming threat that someone will cut their journey short.

If you read this book, don’t expect a climax or any form of action. There isn’t a lot of excitement built into the plot; it’s not that type of story. It more describes a setting, and the overall feeling of the journey.

While some might find this format to be boring, I found it peaceful and relaxing. I think anyone who enjoys simply walking in the woods or camping would get that same sense.

At times, I wish the description was enhanced more on the surroundings and the nature they come across. While the development of the setting gave you a picture, it didn’t quite satisfy my urge to want to drink the whole journey in with all its details.

Nevertheless, the book was a light read to give outdoors enthusiasts warm feelings in their chest. The emotional and memorable qualities of this book make it hard to believe it’s actually just about walking 2,000 miles.

Spoiler alert: He finished the trail.

4 stars out of 5