Study Guide

A Walk in the Woods Part 1, Chapter 8

By Bill Bryson

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Part 1, Chapter 8

  • Unfortunately, they're still eight miles from the highway. The duo undergoes this daunting trek with deep focus and manages to pick up a ride into town pretty easily.
  • Gatlinburg is a tourist town unlike any other. Bryson has been there (and written about it) before, but he finds himself shocked by how much the city has grown.
  • Katz needs shoelaces, so the duo heads to a local hiking store. Bryson absentmindedly looks at a map of the AT on the wall while Katz shops.
  • Suddenly, he makes an awful realization—their trip so far accounts for a mere two inches "of the four feet of trail map" in front of him (1.8.15). They've hardly gotten anywhere.
  • In a way, this realization is liberating—they no longer feel the pressure of trekking the whole trail. They decide to take a cab past the Smokies and hop on the trail from there.
  • Before that cab arrives, however, Bryson suddenly decides that he'd rather go even further north: to Virginia. Er, okay—whatever you say, boss.
  • In the end, they decide to rent a car and drive up to Virginia themselves.

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