Review of TRAIL MAGIC in Long Distance Hiker


TRAIL MAGIC got a nice review in the Summer 2012 issue of Long Distance Hiker


Letters home: There’s trail magic in air
ALDHA Board Member

Trail Magic: Reports From Braid — Joe Liles’ Appalachian Trail Hike
By Joe “Braid” Liles
198 pages, $30, through

Every year, people hike the Appalachian Trail, and every year some of those folks deem it necessary to write a book about their experience. Some of those books have been disasters, dwelling on all the things that went wrong or how many miles were racked up each day, all without ever noticing the changes in the seasons or the landscape — or the changes within — that make each hike unique.
“Trail Magic” by Joe Liles is not that kind of book. Known on the trail as “Braid” during his 2009 thru-hike, Joe religiously wrote back home to friends and family every chance he got and has now compiled those missives into an impressive manuscript. You can tell he put a lot of time into thinking about each post before he sat down to compose it from the trail. And as you read along, you’ll share in the journey of self-discovery that made his thru-hike, and now his book, a great success.
“Braid” learned early on that you do not take a walk on the A.T. The hike takes you. He encounters all the usual calamities that greet every hiker who has ever stepped off from Springer: bad weather, blisters, crowds, even shin splints in his case. But he realizes he needs to slow down, take what comes and dwell on the positives, and by doing so, the trail goddess — or Trail Magic in his case — will take care of the rest. And he offers plenty of examples where that is exactly what hap- pens, as almost any hiker can attest. Joe has some truly amazing stories in this regard.

Joe also pays attention to his surroundings. During his hike he asked a lot of questions, assumed he didn’t know everything and thus learned a lot about what he was seeing and hearing on the trail. For example, he’ll quick- ly remark on the nature of the forest he’s pass- ing through, or comment on the wildlife he either sees or hears, or retell what he picked up from a local about the fascinating history of a trail town, or explain the origins of names for towns, rivers and mountains.

And he passes along these tidbits in the folksy narrative of letters home, a style that is engaging, personal, upbeat and easy to follow.

For folks planning a thru-hike, this book will give you an intimate, realistic preview of what to expect and, more importantly, how to handle setbacks so they don’t sabotage your hike or your psyche. For old trail veterans, it might just teach you a few things you never knew before about the A.T. and make you want to hike it all over again.

Leave a Reply