Blind Courage by Bill Irwin
A better title for this book would be Blind Stupidity. This is the story of Bill Irwin, the 1st (and possibly only) blind man to ever hike the Appalachian Trail. In the process he made some very stupid choices and endangered many people. He went out unprepared in every sense and I’m actually surprised he lived to tell about it.
It wasn’t even his blindness that caused the biggest problem. In fact, I think a blind man could potentially hike the AT and be safe about it, but a significant amount of planning would be required. As with any disability or medical condition, it should not dominate your life, but you do have to make allowances and plan ahead.
Bill had no idea what he was getting himself into. none. none at all. He was shocked by the first 7 miles and how rugged it was. He was not a hiker, he didn’t even like hiking. He brought a dog with him, granted it was a seeing-eye dog, but still the dog was forced into the walk and it didn’t get a choice. By the end of the book, he was hiking in winter and fording creeks, slogging through snow and dragging other people, including the Head Ranger at Baxter State Park, with him. There were many clues that he should have stopped, but he didn’t.
The book was more about Bill’s struggle with addiction and his faith – he was a born-again Christian and strongly believed that the Lord had called him to hike the hike and that’s why he was able to finish, apparently the Lord made him strong and gave him the trail angels that helped him. The book was very preachy and that is likely what turned me off to it. I wanted to read a story about a hiker doing what he loved despite challenges, but what I got was an evangelizing praise and worship song.
If the book hadn’t had a background of hiking the AT I never would have finished it.