Study Guide

A Walk in the Woods Part 1, Chapter 6

By Bill Bryson

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Part 1, Chapter 6

  • At this point in the hike, time is a blur. Each day seems to be a repeat of the one before, with the scenery remaining almost entirely static.
  • Then they reach Big Butt Mountain (which is the best name for a mountain, ever). The path leads to a "narrow" and "dangerous" road, made worse by a sudden increase of wind (1.6.7).
  • Luckily, they make it to level ground before the snow starts pouring down. And it's coming down hard: there are already five inches on the ground and it's only growing.
  • After consulting his map, Bryson decides that they should take a side-road to bypass the mountainous AT and get into shelter ASAP. Katz agrees.
  • They trudge on the side road for an hour until they finally hook back up with the AT. The official AT shelter is only a few hundred yards away.
  • AT shelters are like little houses with one wall missing. There are two people already holed up when Bryson and Katz arrive: a father and son pair named Jim and Heath.
  • Bryson is the first person awake the next morning. He steps outside to see how much it snowed over the night and ends up with snow "over his waist" (1.6.22). Uh oh.
  • With no other choice, the group decides to head out. Bryson and Katz are shooting to walk seven miles to the Rainbow Springs Campground, while Jim and Heath will taking a side trail to their nearby car.
  • Although it turns Bryson and Katz into nervous nellies, Jim and Heath eventually break off onto the side trail. Their fears are assuaged a few hours later when they run into Jim and Heath driving along the highway—they give them a ride the rest of the way to the campgrounds.
  • The campsite is full. In fact, all of the cabins are occupied, which forces the duo to stay in a jam-packed bunkhouse. Katz has trouble just getting into his top bunk.
  • They spend one night there. It's awful. Luckily, they get wind that some kid is driving people into town for a few bucks, and they hustle off without a second thought.
  • Although Katz begs Bryson to just cancel the whole hike so he can catch up on the "'X-Files,'" the pair is back on the AT the following morning (1.6.58).

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