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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Footprints on the Mountains: Hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine by Dennis Renshaw is the non-fiction memoir of the author's experience hiking the whole of the 2,189.2 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Renshaw begins by sharing the story of how his desire to hike came about and how the ultimate decision to do a complete thru-hike was made—a decision which started in the same manner that most major life determinations happen: by asking your wife's permission and having it granted. There is a great deal of training and preparation for such a journey, all of which Renshaw divulges in great detail. What one can never prepare for, however, is the way the expedition will change a person so completely in the most profound physical, mental, and spiritual ways. It is in these revelations that Renshaw's story truly comes to life.
Footprints on the Mountains is an exceptionally well written and wonderful portrayal of a man in his late 60's venturing on an odyssey that most cannot even begin to imagine. Dennis Renshaw, who had spent his life as a pastor tending to and leading his flock, was now the one who would be left alone, prone to getting lost, getting injured, and being wholly vulnerable. He is as prepared as he probably could be and still there is a steep and dangerous learning curve that winds throughout. “I was learning a valuable lesson. A chill on the mountain can quickly turn into hypothermia.” I enjoyed the stories of those Renshaw met along the way and the smallest details that only an experienced hiker can give (such as purchasing a strong titanium fork that's long enough to not have your dirty fingers touch the food). I think this is a fantastic book for those who are considering the hike, those who feel they may have lost their way, and those who, like me, appreciate an armchair adventure with a heavy dose of inspiration.