One of our recommended books is Thousand Miler by Melanie McManus

THOUSAND-MILER

Adventures Hiking The Ice Age Trail


In thirty-six thrilling days, Melanie Radzicki McManus hiked 1,100 miles around Wisconsin, landing her in the elite group of Ice Age Trail thru-hikers known as Thousand-Milers. In prose that is alternately harrowing and humorous, McManus takes you with her on an “into-the-wild” Ice Age experience through Wisconsin’s forests, prairies, wetlands, farms, and far-flung small towns.

Follow along as she worries about wildlife encounters, wonders if her injured feet will ever recover, and searches for an elusive fellow hiker known as Papa Bear. Woven throughout her account are details of the history of the still-developing Ice Age Trail—one of just eleven National Scenic Trails—and helpful insights and strategies for undertaking a successful thru-hike.

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In thirty-six thrilling days, Melanie Radzicki McManus hiked 1,100 miles around Wisconsin, landing her in the elite group of Ice Age Trail thru-hikers known as Thousand-Milers. In prose that is alternately harrowing and humorous, McManus takes you with her on an “into-the-wild” Ice Age experience through Wisconsin’s forests, prairies, wetlands, farms, and far-flung small towns.

Follow along as she worries about wildlife encounters, wonders if her injured feet will ever recover, and searches for an elusive fellow hiker known as Papa Bear. Woven throughout her account are details of the history of the still-developing Ice Age Trail—one of just eleven National Scenic Trails—and helpful insights and strategies for undertaking a successful thru-hike.

Read our interview with the author on the Reading Group Choices blog!

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  • Wisconsin Historical Society Press
  • Paperback
  • April 2017
  • 240 Pages
  • 9780870207907

Buy the Book

$20.00

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About Melanie Radzicki McManus

Melanie Radzicki McManus has been a news reporter at a Green Bay radio station, a press secretary at the Wisconsin State Capitol, and editor of two Wisconsin publications. Since 1994, McManus has worked as a freelance writer and editor, specializing in travel and fitness. She has won numerous awards for her writing, most notably the prestigious Lowell Thomas Gold and Grand Awards for travel journalism.

Author Website

Praise

Recommended Summer Travel Book Read, among “four books [that] top my to-read pile.” New York Times Book Review, Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild 
Thousand-Miler weaves together practical advice, hiker profiles and cultural tales the author collected while setting a record for completing the more than 1,000-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail across Wisconsin in 36 days. The most touching chapter features veterans and the emotional need to ‘walk off the war’ before transitioning back to home life.” Minneapolis Star Tribune

Discussion Questions

1. As the book opens Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu reminds us—and Melanie—that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ” Besides the first step, what were some critical “single steps” that marked McManus’s thousand-mile journey?

2. How was McManus transformed by her trail experience – what lessons did she learn, practical and otherwise?

3. Would you rather drive the support vehicle or hike the trail? Why?

4. How did being a woman shape Melanie’s experiences on the trail?

5. The journey has many challenges, and Melanie is honest about how she responds in the moment—portraying herself at times as grumpy, fearful, frustrated, discouraged. Does her honesty about her experience suggest that you, too, could survive and even enjoy a thruhike experience? Or does it dissuade you from attempting a similar endeavor?

6. Melanie chooses the trail name Valderi. What memories does the name evoke for her? What would you choose as your trail name, and why?

7. Did Melanie need to set a thru-hiking record in order to be successful? Why or Why Not?

8. At the beginning of her hike, Melanie relishes the opportunity for solitude. “The feeling is isolating, yet incredibly peaceful— so peaceful I want to bottle it up so I can pour it around myself when I’m back home and life gets too frenzied. ” Yet throughout the trip she eagerly seeks out a character called Papa Bear. How do the author’s feelings about solitude and about her busy life at home change over the course of her hike?

9. Why was finding Papa Bear so important? Was he, in the end, the most important character she found on the trail? If not, who was?

10. Each time McManus got lost on the trail she found her way to a new discovery, new friend or new insight. How did unplanned and unexpected moments affect her journey, practically and otherwise?

Interviews

Read our interview with Melanie McManus on the Reading Group Choices blog!