The Blue Ridge Parkway By Foot: A Park Ranger’s Memoir
How I Came Across This Book:
As most of you know, Darwin and I recently completed a bicycle tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had wanted a challenge that didn’t involve hiking and I wanted to be immersed in the Smoky Mountains, so a bicycle tour of the Parkway seemed to be the perfect venture. A close friend of ours has also spent a lot of time on the Parkway, Roub. He has bicycle toured all 469 miles almost twice and this summer started hiking it. What was his inspiration for his newest feat? This book! Having an obvious interest now in the Parkway, Roub let me borrow the book of which I have now read and I’m ready to share my thoughts.
I’m going to be upfront and just say it, I LOVED this book! It has everything I love, park rangers, mountains, adventure, backpacking, history, national parks, and the list goes on! The author can be a little long-winded at times, but his details provide an amazing account of his experience.
The author Tim Pegram, is a former park ranger and the first known person to have ever hiked the Parkway. His book provides a detailed account of his 41-day journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway starting in Waynesboro, VA and heading south to Cherokee, NC.
I think one of the best things about this book is how Pegram wrote it. He weaves in stories from his ranger days along the Parkway within his narrative of actually hiking it. His vast amount of experiences as a ranger only enhance the experience. From tracking bear hunters and speeders to dealing with the FBI and wild turkeys, Pegram has a lot of stories to share along his four hundred and sixty-nine-mile hike.
Pegram also provides an immense amount of history along with his journey. If you don’t like history don’t worry, I doubt you’ll even notice. The historical accounts fit smoothly into his journey as he hikes past mileposts, overlooks, and other landmarks. I’m not sure even the most detailed guide on the Parkway, could provide the amount of information and facts Pegram includes in his book. If you have any doubts in the extensive amount of information he discusses, simply flip to the large bibliography in the back of the book; all sources are provided and there is a lot.
At some points along the way, I did find Pegram to be long-winded, noticing at times that my mind would wander when reading. I think that like Pegram’s hike, the reader needs to take their time and wandering will be avoided. This allows the information Pegram delivers to absorb and makes the book more enjoyable. You know going into the book that Pegram hikes the entire Parkway (just read the back of the book) so there is no need to rush to the finish. In hindsight, I should have taken my own advice and read the book slower, to fully appreciate what I was learning and being entertained by.
I wish I would have known about this book before Darwin and I started our bike tour. However now having ridden the parkway, I was very familiar with many locations Pegram discussed and could easily visualize them. Since his hike in 2003, things have inevitably changed on the Parkway. This however makes Pegram’s book, even more special. To me it’s like a milepost, an informative piece of the Parkway in its own right. This is a one of a kind book that any lover of the Blue Ridge Parkway needs to read.
You can find this book on Amazon via this link https://amzn.to/2EoGhXt or check your local library!
Pegram returned to re-hike the Parkway in 2013, ten years after his first hike documented in this book. Read more about his second Parkway hike in his article here.
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