Since then, my girl has probably read this book 5 times. I kid you not. It is a touchstone, a magical truth-telling, and I'm so glad she has found it. I finally read it this week, and though it was not totally "safe" for a young girl, I'm not upset at all about her stumbling upon this book. It is better-written than I expected, and I too was captivated with being "on the trail" with Davis. It made me long to be hiking, much as I'm sure it has grown a love for hiking in my daughter.
In Becoming Odyssa, Davis recounts the experiences of her first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2005. A thru-hike is when a hiker walks every mile of the AT continuously, though short breaks "off trail" are customary, and there are many versions of a thru-hike these days. Though Davis is thorough and provides lots of good details, you can't really rely on Davis' account as a guidebook or preparation for your own thru-hike because she hikes fast. Even when she wasn't trying to set records, Davis covers A LOT of ground each day. Her seasons and the experiences that accompany some of her landmarks will not match those of the average hiker. Still, the book is good, and I am once again inspired to hit the trail - and my girl is too.
One of my favorite things about reading this book after my daughter is that I could see the notes and highlights she made. In one passage, Davis comments on how the trail reminded her of God's presence, and I was so happy to find my girl commenting with "Me too!" The other passage she highlighted is long, but I'm going to include part of it here because it represents the girl she is and the young woman she is becoming:
I also knew that something deep within me connected with nature, hard work, and simplicity. I learned that I was both stubborn and tough, a lot tougher than I thought I was, especially when I let other people help me. I knew that I was beautiful, despite what other people said, and I appreciated my body based on what it could do instead of how it looked. I also knew that I was truly blessed, blessed with a wonderful family and wonderful friends. Another thing I knew for certain: after four months in the woods, I knew exactly what, or rather who, I was going back to. I was going back to my family. ... I had certainly gone longer periods of time without seeing them before, but there was something different about this experience. In a strange way, the challenges and miles of this trip did not distance me from my family, but made me feel closer to them.I can think of worse things for a girl to stumble upon and be inspired by. What about you? Have you had an accidental reading encounter like this one? What did it mean for you?