Study Guide

A Walk in the Woods Part 2, Chapter 17

By Bill Bryson

Part 2, Chapter 17

  • Bryson starts this chapter by telling us how bad hypothermia is. This totally isn't foreshadowing. No siree.
  • Anyway, hypothermia sucks. Despite popular belief, the real issue with the condition isn't just the threat of freezing to death—it's the declining mental capacities that are associated with it.
  • Plus, it doesn't even have to be that cold for you to catch hypothermia. Step out unprepared on a forty-degree night and you might be met with a rude awakening (or a rude sleep, if you catch our drift).
  • Bryson is now in New Hampshire, btw. This is one of the most difficult legs of the entire trail, featuring stunning "thirty-peaks high than 3,000 feet" for your climbing pleasure (2.17.10).
  • Luckily, Bryson has brought a friend along named Bill Abdu. He might not be as quirky as Katz, but he'll do in a pinch.
  • As they near the peak of a smaller mountain, however, the weather abruptly shifts and they're struck by brutal wind, plummeting temperatures, and a frigid mist.
  • They hole up to get their bearings. Bryson realizes that he had completely forgotten to bring his waterproof clothes, which is really bad. Regardless, they decide to march on.
  • As the walk continues, Bryson falls into "a state of mild distress" (2.17.23). Just mild? After an indeterminable amount of time, however, they finally reach Greenleaf Hut, a small lodge.
  • Bryson has never been happier to drop fifty bucks for a one-night-stay. After a warm, comforting night, our two heroes are right back on the AT in the morning.

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