Imagine being alone in the wilderness, after 900 miles of hiking, in the blistering heat of summer, collapsed against a tree sobbing uncontrollably as the sudden desperate reality of your life has driven a stake through your body pinning it to the ground, immovable and searing your very soul. It was the greatest day of my life, and the day I began living after 33 years of simply being alive.
The stories in this manuscript are authentic and diverse. I narrate the experiences of my own and other long-distance hikers who have all undergone a transformation of self and purpose as a result of pushing their bodies, and minds to extreme limits on journeys in excess of 2,000 miles. These personal histories act to reinforce the themes of resilience, pilgrimage, rites of passage, transformation, addiction, redemption, liminality, reinvention of self, and resurrection that can be attained by long distance hiking and the community of good souls that parallel us on these treks. My genuine story of transformation and the radical life path redirection I experienced is intertwined with those of other thru-hikers. Unlike two of the most read books on long-distance hiking, whose accuracy has been scrutinized, these are documented and accurate in detail, place, and context.
I was inspired to write this by the unexpected passing of my trail friend and brother “Baltimore Jack.” He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) 8 consecutive times and is one of the most colorful, and possibly controversial trail legends the A.T. has ever had. I tell his story as no one else has ever done before. I knew him for nearly 20 years, and he never wrote his own biography. His is a story of death and reinvention, addiction, fellowship, and exploration. This book is raw and honest and I discuss how society’s definition and expectations of what is “real” is juxtaposed by the natures “real world” ability to help us reimagine our lives and re-center ourselves in more healthy ways.
In the Real World I Hike bridges the genres of hiking, adventure, spirituality, memoir, mindfulness, outdoor recreation, self-help, transformation, pilgrimage, rites of passage, and emotional health. You will meet Emily, whose husband died in her arms, and other hikers who- were out to prove something to themselves, saw this as a last chance opportunity to do something of greatness, or as an attempt to drive away the demons of PTSD. Readers will be an audience to a first person account of one of the most retold stories about the A.T. -The Death at the Doyle.
This is my first manuscript and I have conceptual ideas for at least two more involving the outdoors that have not yet been published to my knowledge.
My Background includes the following accomplishments:
Thank you for your consideration.
Michael “SY” Sisemore EdD