Monday, October 22, 2012

Book: Ed Stafford's "Walking The Amazon: 860 Days. One Step At A Time"

I'm less than a year away from my second Camino and the hiking bug is whispering in my ear.  That's probably why my next two books have been about hiking.  The first, the one this post is about, was Ed Stafford's "Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time."

Now, before I go any further, I have no intention what so ever to hike the Amazon.  Taking a cruise down the Amazon river is on my list of things I want to do but hiking it ... not so much.  The Wife has nothing to worry about.

The book is the self narrated story of Stafford's successful attempt to walk the entire length of the Amazon river, something that had never been done before.  He starts in Peru on the Pacific ocean beach, hikes over the Andes to the farthest documented source of the Amazon and then continues along it's entire length.  Along the way he hires guides and companions including Cho who accompanies him for most of the journey from Peru to the Atlantic ocean.  Also along the way he encounters hostile natives (who believe white people eat babies), drug runners, insects, snakes, and shortages of food and money.  What started out as a year to hike the river turned into two and a third years.

Stafford does a good job describing how he was feeling and how his mood would swing from day to day.  His narrative, along with excerpts from the journal he kept, give you a good picture of just how difficult this endeavor was.  One thing I never considered was how the Amazon floods during the rainy season.  The jungle on either side of the river for miles, tens of miles, turns into swamp.  Stafford and his guides would hike up to their chin in water at times while hacking through the tangled jungle with machetes.  One day, after almost six hours of hiking, they had moved 400 meters (0.25 miles).  That would have demoralized me to no end.

Stafford's writing style reminded me of my style, very conversational and informal which made it an easy read.  It could have been polished a bit more but if it had it probably would have lost something.  There is a blog that has more information about the trek and it can be found here.

I like this book.  Definitely recommended.

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