I’ve followed a bit of discourse on his hiking thoughts. I came across this critique that picks up on the fact that on his big hike along the Appalachian Trail he failed to thru-hike. That is, he did bits of the hike, getting lifts in the tough bits. But didn’t go the full hog.
In doing so, Bryson misses the critical, soulful, true and gritty point of hiking: the passing through-ness.
When you hike, you pass “through mountains and valleys, through farms and small towns, through pain, through hunger, through nagging doubt”.
I get what the writer of this particular article is saying. Totally. I personally can’t bring myself to skip bits, shorten things or avoid difficult parts. It’s heart-sinky. And “cheats” things beyond mere short-cutting.