As Far As the Eye Can See, Fifth Edition
Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker
- Author(s): Brill, David
- Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
- Publication Date: 2020-09-20
- Status: Active
- Available in Paper: Price $24.95 | Buy Now
“Will inspire even couch potatoes to buy a backpack and hiking boots and head for the nearest trail.”—Tampa Tribune & Times
“Trail enthusiasts will love this one. . . . Best account I have read of an end-to-end walk on the Appalachian Trail. . . . Thoreau lives!”—Roanoke Times & World News
“Almost defies a neat label. It is part philosophy, part adventure, part practical guide, and part character study. . . . The book is well written, and its appeal will not be limited only to the outdoor enthusiast.” —Pittsburgh Press
When David Brill’s now-classic account of his 1979 thru-hike of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail was released in 1990, it immediately struck a chord with veterans and aspirants of one of the world’s longest continuously marked footpaths. Over the years, the book has continued to sell through multiple printings.
As Far as the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker, now in its fifth (thirtieth-anniversary) edition and eighth printing, was recently released by the University of Tennessee Press. The new edition features a new preface on Brill’s 2019 40th-anniversary reunion in Maine with his AT buddies, as well as prefaces to earlier editions and three bonus chapters that bring Brill’s continuing connection with the trail to near the present.
In the years following release of As Far as the Eye Can See, first-person accounts of hiking the trail burgeoned into a literary genre, but Brill’s book was among the first to capture the physical and spiritual aspects of the long journey across fourteen states.
Brill and his fellow hikers, who are all portrayed in the book, were relatively early devotees on a pilgrimage that, within a few decades, would become a popular rite of passage. Indeed, by the end of 1979, a mere 837 people had reported finishing the entire AT route over the trail’s then 42-year history. The total now easily exceeds 20,000.
Brill credits his trail experiences with inspiring his career as a magazine journalist and book author and providing the theme for much of his subsequent writing on nature and adventure travel. The trail also did much to shape his enduring values and beliefs.
“Though it took me a while to realize it, the trail had shaped me, had given me a philosophy, had toughened me in some ways, had softened me in others, and taught me lessons I will never forget: lessons on survival, kindness, strength, friendship, courage, perseverance, and the ways of nature,” Brill writes in the book’s final chapter, “Coming Home.” “Those lessons have affected everything I’ve done since.”
Readers find that Brill’s experiences and observations on the healing power of nature from forty years ago are equally relevant in today’s world.
The book’s first edition received widespread critical acclaim. The San Francisco Book Reader wrote: “Evocatively written gems of observation full of native wisdom brimming over with thoughts and exploits…. You read and read again, this book is that rich.” Many other reviewers have commended the book on its honest portrayal of the trail experience and the literary quality of its prose. In its review, The Roanoke Times effused “Thoreau lives!”