Balancing on Blue is an account of Keith Foskett’s 2012 Appalachian Trail thru hike. If you’ve read Keith’s account of his PCT hike (“The Last Englishman“), you’ll enjoy this book. The AT is less spectacular and shorter than the PCT, but arguably a tougher hike with the trail following a roller coaster.
Although written as a continuous account, it’s very much in the style of a trail diary. Keith has a conversational and engaging narrative style of writing, full of observations and humour. You get a good idea of what it is like to do a thru hike with both the good and the bad.
Thru hiking is a tough business and the body takes a pounding over the 2,180 miles of the trail. Sometimes this is described in eye watering detail! Interspersed with the day to day walking are some observations on aspects of thru hiking and life in general.
Although life on the trail mainly revolves around the essentials of achieving daily mileage, eating and finding shelter, there are times for reflection. In particular, one incident struck me. The lowest section of the AT passes through a zoo! Keith’s encounter with a fox in a cage, contrasting his freedom with the fox’s incarceration is quite poignant.
Part of the fun of a long hike is the characters met along the way. Keith certainly met some characters! They are given some space at the beginning and end of the book to explain some of their feelings and motivations, which helps bring them to life for the reader.
The book contains no photos, which is a shame, but understandable given the extra cost it would entail for printing. Although there is a map at the start of the book, it would have been helpful to have one at the start of each chapter to give some context.
I really enjoyed Balancing on Blue. If you like reading about thru hikes, then it’s well worth tracking down. It’s available through Amazon as both a paperback (which is the version I read) and on Kindle. Click here for Keith’s page for Balancing on Blue.
Disclosure: Balancing on Blue was purchased with my own money.