Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

by Jennifer Pharr Davis

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After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she's crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780825305665
Publisher: Beaufort Books, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/15/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 91,300
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Jennifer Pharr Davis grew up in the North Carolina Mountains, where she developed a love for hiking at a young age. At age twenty-one, Jennifer hiked the entire Appalachian Trail as a solo female and fell in love with long-distance backpacking.Since then, Jennifer has hiked more than 11,000 miles on six different continents, with North American hikes including the Pacific Crest Trail, Vermont's Long Trail, and the Colorado Trail, and completed three thru-hikes on the Appalachian Trail. She has hiked and traveled on six continents; some of the highlights include Mount Kilimanjaro, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and the 600-mile Bibbulmun Track in Australia.In the summer of 2011, Jennifer topped her own 2008 Women's Endurance Record for the fastest thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, making her the overall record holder for both women and men. Jennifer is the first woman to hold the overall title.Jennifer hiked from Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia. Her goal was to hike the entire 2,180-mile faster than the current overall speed record of 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes, which she did in 46 days.To break the record, Jennifer hiked an average of 47 miles a day, camping along the trail. She had trail support from legendary ultra-runner and former AT and Pacific Crest Trail speed record holder David Horton, as well as veteran AT expert Warren Doyle and Davis' husband, Brew Davis. Her hiking and backpacking accomplishments, as well as her influence as an outdoor role model, are remarkable and momentous.Jennifer is a 2012 National Geographic Top Adventurer of the Year nominee for her record-breaking thru-hike, has been on CNN, The Early Show, NPR numerous times, and was featured in Fitness Magazine and Shape magazine, among others. Jennifer has also written for Trail Runner magazine,, is a frequent contributor to Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, and has written three guidebooks. Jennifer lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, and is the owner and founder of Blue Ridge Hiking Co.

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Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Davis was a 21 year old graduate with a degree in ancient languages who planned to hike the 2000 mile Appalachian Trail. Early in the book she says many people talk about hiking the trail but never do it. I guess I'm in that category. She also mentions the trail will change you. And reaching the end, literally and figuratively, she has been changed. She says every day on the trail was an adventure. Not always pleasant with snakes, blizzards and encountering a suicide. But she tells the tale honestly. Anyone planning a 'thru-hike' as she calls it, could use this book as a resource. But the book is more important because of the theme of transformation. She was transformed and the reader would be also. I know I was. I've reread it twice. It's on a shelf with other book that I would never sell or trade or even lend to someone. Kevin O'Neall
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story of personal growth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a day and a half and didn't want it to end. What an amazing portrayal of her hike. I felt like I was watching her make this journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written
booklove2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Pharr Davis is like a superhero but better. We are alike in some ways. We are only a year apart in age. We both spent part of 2005 in different areas of Maine. But Jennifer is the superhero. I couldn't imagine walking alone on the Appalachian Trail as a young female. I once tried to walk a couple miles around a lake after having eaten only a couple donuts the entire day and didn't get very far. As if I didn't think that was pathetic enough, imagine my shame when Jennifer hikes over 2,000 miles on a diet mostly consisting of junk food! Candy bars! Toaster pastries! The way she withstands the black flies alone amazes me. I've had the experience of dealing with black flies in Maine. They are ten times worse than mosquitoes. Jennifer says she starts to fall apart because most of her gear is falling apart, but I believe it is really due to those pesky black flies.I have already read a memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I was worried this book wouldn't be as good as Bill Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods' and maybe a bit redundant. Bryson is hilarious which made his book a favorite. Hilarity is here also in bits of 'Becoming Odyssa', maybe not as much as Bryson's book, but 'Becoming Odyssa' is important for so many other reasons. The humor is just a bonus. Bryson may go on interesting tangents, but Jennifer's book is much more courageous and inspirational. Jennifer is the sort of person you wish all memoirs were based on. I don't like reading memoirs about horrible people. From her writing, Jennifer seems like a genuine, kindhearted, amazing person. Her personality alone is something to aspire to. Her writing style makes it seem like she is a friend telling you her experiences. Jennifer goes through some tough stuff: a creepy stalker, being hit by lightning, a thru-hiker that reminded me of The Office's Dwight Schrute (though hilarious on TV is not someone I would want to be walking the Appalachian Trail with). One particular event Jennifer goes through is horrible and heartbreaking. But when she is doing well on the trail, it is lovely to read. You want to see her succeed on the trail. And she goes above and beyond succeeding. I really have nothing negative to say about this book. It is definitely a new favorite in the memoir genre. 'Becoming Odyssa' should be read by armchair hikers, those who actually are hikers and would like to read another persons experience, those planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail and trying to find a primer on the topic beforehand, or really anyone who likes a great adventure.
fiadhiglas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a weekend hiker who's fascinated by the AT (I like reading others' accounts; I don't want to hike it myself), I really wanted to like this book. The author does have lots of adventures, and she's very good with describing hiking. But she never seems to learn that everyone isn't exactly like her, and that's okay. Maybe she had a very sheltered upbringing. I kept trying to cut her slack because she's young and hasn't had much life experience yet. WAY more God talk than I want to see in a book that's not explicitly religious. And there's so much more insight she might've learned, if she had just gotten out of her own head more. It's just not very interesting.
TEJones More than 1 year ago
Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail, published two years after Davis’s 2008 women’s speed record of hiking the AT in fifty-seven days, is not the story of that achievement. Rather, it is about her four-month northbound thru-hike of the A.T. in 2005. “For most people,” says Davis, “I am defined by my 2008 Appalachian Trail record, which is strange to me, because it was my first thru-hike in 2005 that defined me.” Becoming Odyssa is the aptly titled book that tells of the transformation of Davis into Odyssa: “Odyssa wasn’t just a nickname; it was a second identity. . . . For me, the distance between Jen and Odyssa marked the journey between naivete and experience. I knew that when I reached Katahdin, Odyssa would be a person far removed from the girl who started the trail.” If you are looking for a book that will tell you what you can expect on the trail, you should look elsewhere. Although there are a few passages that shed light on the thru-hiker experience generally, this book is predominantly about Davis’s unique and sometimes unusual experiences, her interactions with and reactions to people, places, and things. To a great extent, the book delves into Davis’s emotions, her joy and her indignation, as well as her religious faith. However, Davis’s reaction toward day-hikers and section-hikers keeps me from fully enjoying this book. She makes the following statement in Chapter 13: “I already had a bias against most weekenders, but after my night at Manassas Gap Shelter, I decided I didn’t like section-hikers much either. . . . “It seemed to me that, as a thru-hiker, I should be able to pull rank over a weekender or section-hiker. But I was discovering that the weekenders and section-hikers thought they were just as important as me, if not more so.” The author’s attitude toward non thru-hikers continues throughout the book and makes one wish that Warren Doyle had informed Davis before her hike that all A.T. hikers are, in fact, equal. A couple of the characters developed in this work are especially memorable—namely, Moot and Mooch. The story of Moot appears in the ninth chapter, “Oppression.” Davis meets him at a restaurant in Damascus and finds that, for 165 miles, do whatever she may and try however so hard, she cannot rid herself of his annoying presence. The latter character is an addition to the second half on the book. Often humorous and. ultimately, likeable, Mooch becomes a solid friend of Davis’s. The “thirteen snippets of accumulated wisdom” offered by Warren Doyle in the book’s Introduction should be valuable to all prospective thru-hikers and to section-hikers as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy to read. Kept my interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply put: I liked this book. It wasn't as captivating as Southbound (which I finished before this) but it is also 2-3 times less long, so naturally there are less details. What I especially liked was the fact that Jennifer (or Odyssa) very much shared her own learning experiences - including her motivations and her mistakes. This taught me more about thru-hiking than the book of a superprepared, all-knowing super-person would have. Other reviewers have mentioned that the author seems quick to judge fellow hikers, and I agree to a certain point. A couple of times she makes sweeping comments about groups of people or judges single hikers but from her perspective, and taking in to account that she describes months of experiences in a rather thin book, I can understand how she might think that way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite story about the AT. Everyone should read this book!
Georgia-Mom More than 1 year ago
i felt as if I were on the AT! A good read, very descriptive without being too technical. Really enjoyable even for a non-hiker. 
Calamus More than 1 year ago
An impressive, epic tale, Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail is an adventure story, a coming-of-age story, and travel guide all in one. Jennifer Pharr Davis tells a captivating story of hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail — from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME — in simple and engaging language that pulls you onto the trail with her. Along the way, she meets a wide array of characters, witnesses breathtaking moments of nature’s beauty and cruelty, and untaps a bounty of unknown strength, both physically and mentally. Pharr Davis balances the good and the bad of the trail so well that as the reader you bounce back and forth from envy to sympathy. Making good use of the journal she kept throughout the 4 month long journey, Pharr Davis excellently conveys her emotions and attitude as they rose and fell with each step. What I found most intriguing was following her growth along the way. She begins as a rather naive 21 year old used to all the usual creature comforts who transforms to appreciate, I mean really appreciate, a hot shower, comfy bed, and home cooked meal. These revelations come naturally and not as a cliched “come-to-Jesus” moment, even though her convictions about religion and beliefs in God are absolutely solidified on the trail. Lessons learned on the trail were fantastic, too. She proves that you don’t need fancy equipment to make it. In fact, she wears sneakers and uses a mop as a hiking stick for much of her journey. A few portions were a little, well, boring when she was alone in the woods for long stretches but honestly I can’t imagine trying to write about walking solo through the woods without getting a) preachy, b) completely self-involved, or c) writing drivel/filler. She manages to avoid all three. Becoming Odyssa is a great book for anyone interested in hiking and the outdoors or who enjoys a coming-of-age tale. Oh, and her name is absolutely based off The Odyssey, which is one of my favorite books of all time so Pharr Davis totally gets bonus points for having a really sweet trail name. Check out her website, Blue Ridge Hiking Co. where you can purchase this and more titles by Jennifer Pharr Davis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Along with Brysons A Walk in the Woods, this is a must read for AT enthusiasts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was excited to buy this book after I heard Jennifer Pharr Davis at a college lecture series. Hoping simply to do a part of the AT after retirement, Jennifer's book reveals so much about the trail and the character of those who desire to hike its full length. I am blown away by her courage and stamina as she does the trail solo and holds the world's record for fastest AT hiker.
Bob_K More than 1 year ago
After reading Bryson's book (A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail), I was hungry for another AT adventure. This book fit the bill. I think Davis is an excellent writer. She was able to capture her hike in a dramatic and interesting manner. The book does not bias toward the "always positive" or "always negative". Instead, she skillfully weaves the two states of mind together and does a good job of showing how her attitude changed along the trail. The other nice thing about the book is her description of the hikers she met along the way. She's not afraid to to say when she did or didn't like another hiker, but she does so respectfully. That was a pleasant surprise because respectfulness is increasingly hard to find in print today. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, I think Davis missed several opportunities to write more dramatically about some of the most incredible moments of her trip. For example, when she gets struck by lightning early in her hike, there was really no literary buildup to the event. It just sort of "happens" in the middle of a paragraph. I also wish she would have spent a little more time on the denouement. After 2,100 miles on the trail hiking toward Katahdin, I would have liked to read a little more about the finish. I felt it ended a little too abruptly. Davis' attitude throughout the book clearly says, "I can choose how I feel." I think it is also an empowering and encouraging book for women and is a great example for everyone--men and women alike--who may feel timid about certain challenges. It was quite refreshing to see Davis come to respect herself for what she could accomplish rather than how she looks. Finally, I would certainly call this a family-friendly book. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find printed matter that isn't full of profane vernacular, and just because I hear it all day long at work doesn't mean I automatically want to read it in my books. No worries here and no need to wonder if that next page will have an F-bomb on it. Becoming Odyssa is pleasantly free of profanities.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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cavmdc More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, very strong story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DanaCA More than 1 year ago
Such courage and determination. I could only imagine. Very compelling and easy read.