Study Guide

A Walk in the Woods Part 1, Chapter 5

By Bill Bryson

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Part 1, Chapter 5

  • Two nights later, the trio is camped out around a fire for the night. Mary Ellen is asking the boys questions about their zodiac signs, but they just tease her relentlessly.
  • Meanwhile, the dudes have put together a plan to rid themselves of their Mary Ellen-sized problem: they'll "hike fourteen miles" over the next day so they can hustle into the town of Hiawassee and ditch her there (1.5.33). Easy enough, but... a little mean.
  • And boy do they hustle the next day—Katz even manages to keep stride with Bryson. Mary Ellen, on the other hand, keeps falling further and further behind.
  • They reach the highway around four. Although it takes a bit of time, they eventually snag a ride into town from slightly drunk (and extremely frisky) newly engaged couple.
  • A motel (even one as cruddy as this) has never felt so good. Although Hiawassee seems like it's straight out of Deliverance, our hiking homeboys are psyched to be back in civilization.
  • They eat at the surely Zagat-rated "Georgia Mountain Restaurant" (1.5.84). Dinner's okay, but the real star of the show is dessert: lemon pie, which Bryson has been craving hardcore lately.
  • Katz interrupts him before he can chow down, saying that he feels guilty about what they did to Mary Ellen. After all who knows where she is right now?
  • Dude's got a point. In fact, Bryson is so moved by this argument that he can't even properly enjoy his pie. Devastating.
  • After a nutrition-rich breakfast at Hardees the next morning, the hiking hombres return to the AT. Sigh.
  • They run into a dude an hour later and spark a conversation. They ask him if he's seen Mary Ellen and, yep, he has. He also hilariously describes her as a "piece of work" (1.5.104).
  • And she even talked to him about Bryson and Katz. Aw, how sweet! But the truth is that she talked all sorts of smack about them, calling them fat, lazy, and cowardly.
  • The man leaves the bros to mull over this news, but not before telling them to be careful—there's supposed to be a pretty big snowstorm coming.
  • Bryson isn't too concerned with that right now, however—he angrily warns Katz to "never spoil a piece of pie for [him] again" (1.5.120).

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