Stay Inspired During Quarantine with Jennifer Pharr Davis’s Armchair Adventure Book Club

This is not what we pictured the hiking season of 2020 to look like. Just when we think that it’ll be an injury, illness, family emergency, or fatigue that will keep us from the trail, cue a global pandemic. By now, most of us have (reluctantly) come to terms with the reality that our thru-hiking season has been tossed out the window for the foreseeable future, and that leaves us with a whole lot of time on our hands.

If you keep saying to yourself “I’m going to read more during this time” but instead end up mindlessly watching Tiger King and forgetting what day it is? Me too. I’m guessing you haven’t been changing out of PJ’s until 3 p.m. either, so there’s little reason we shouldn’t hold ourselves accountable to some bedtime stories in the middle of the day?

Armchair Adventure Book Club is set to launch on April 9, hosted by Jennifer Pharr Davis (JPD) and Blue Ridge Hiking Company. You can purchase the complete bundle of books here. They have put together an all-star lineup of adventure books to keep you on the trail, even when you’re not. Each week, the book club will host the authors themselves, leading a virtual discussion.

The list includes two from JPD herself, former Appalachian Trail record-holder and Nat Geo Adventurer of the Year, as well as hiker favorites Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery, and Gorge by Kara Richardson Whitely. There’s no better time than the present to dive deep into a good trail story and get our minds off COVID-19 news.

Each session will be live via Zoom and Facebook (the ATC will be hosting week one) each Thursday at noon ET, from April 9 through May 28. No fees or registration required to participate. There’s no need to read the book beforehand either, though you’ll want to by the end. The schedule is as follows:

April 9: Becoming Odyssa, Jennifer Pharr Davis

One of the most popular thru-hiking memoirs to date, Jennifer Pharr Davis tells of how she found courage, kindness, and mental endurance during her first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

April 16: Unlikely Thru-Hiker, Derick Lugo

In his debut memoir, Derick Lugo thoughtfully chronicles his 2012 Appalachian Trail thru-hike as a lifelong New Yorker and young black man who had never been hiking or camping before, yet willfully conquered the trail. Our reviewer said, “It’s certainly one of the most artful and entertaining trail memoirs to come along in a good while.”

April 23: Untamed, Will Harlan 

Untamed is the story of Carol Ruckdeschel, a self-taught naturalist and overall wild woman who spends her life defending the remote island she calls home and the creatures that live there.

April 30: Gorge, Kara Richardson Whitely 

Gorge is the story of Kara Richardson Whitely’s fiercely determined journey to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, as she struggled with grueling conditions and the 300-pound weight of her own body.

May 7: Video Release of Positive Forward Motion, w/Chris Gallaway and Jennifer Pharr Davis

A 2020 Wild and Scenic Film Tour and Women’s Adventure Film Tour selection, Positive Forward Motion reflects on the challenges and lessons that life has brought Jennifer Pharr Davis as a business owner, mother, and long -distance hiker following her record-setting thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail.

May 14: Stand Up That Mountain, Jay Erskine Leutze

This true story of a North Carolina outdoorsman who teams up with his Appalachian neighbors to save a small mountain town along the Appalachian Trail from being destroyed by mining.

May 21: Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, Ben Montgomery

In 1955, 67-year-old Grandma Gatewood hiked the Appalachian Trail with less than $200 to her name and is today one of the most celebrated hikers. Ben Montgomery retells her iconic story and earned the 2014 National Outdoor Book Award Winner in History / Biography.

May 28: Pursuit of Endurance, Jennifer Pharr Davis

In Pursuit of Endurance, JPD explores what it takes to persevere both on and off the trail. She analyzes her own Fastest Known Time adventure as well as that of other record-setters, with the touch of her storytelling voice.

Want to win a free copy of Becoming Odyssa?

We’re giving away a signed copy of Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis. Comment below telling us how you’re making the best out of your time at home. We’ll pick the winner by April 11.


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Comments 7

  • JC Catmando Van Etten : Apr 6th

    During this crazy time, daily my AT tramily reaches out and we communicate via hangout. I call on older friends and relatives to see how they are doing as well as neighbors. I take long bike rides and have devoured several books on the PCT, my next journey! Work around the house and cleanup after my dirty live oaks! Social distancing and what ever my wife asks me to do! Be safe!

  • Marcia Powers...GottaWalk : Apr 6th

    Whenever I am out backpacking I am asked two questions:
    “How old are you?”
    “Are you going to write a book?”
    I started backpacking after my day hike summit of Mount Whitney to celebrate my 50th birthday. Since then we (my husband and I) thru hiked the Triple Crown, completed the first thru of the coast to coast American Discovery Trail and the first nobo of Idaho’s wild and challenging Centennial Trail and many other trails.
    I always said that I would rather hike than sit at home and write. Now is the time to assemble my trail stories and memories into a book.
    I will use my backpacking skill of one day at a time rather than focusing on the destination to work my way through this intimidating project.
    I am also giddy with excitement to join JPD’s book club. I love reading adventure stories.

  • Michele : Apr 6th

    I have walked every single street in my town, I live in a very small town. I am reading lots of adventure/hiking books and have lots more on my TBR list. I am organizing my maps and planning our summer adventure (fingers crossed) to Vermont. Be Safe, Be Healthy. Social Distance.

  • Claudia : Apr 6th

    How am I making the best of this time? I take my two year old out hiking and exploring as much as I can. We’ve been making leaf and flower collages with glue and construction paper. Splashing in puddles when it’s raining and overall teaching her about nature. It’s been hard, but dreaming of thru-hiking with her when she gets older and showing her how nature can be healing is keeping me going. Love to you and yours.

  • Kris : Apr 6th

    Hiking trails close by, teaching my kids spring is the perfect time to discover nature, planting a veg garden, reading and making art. Has kept us busy so far! Really looking forward to this series with these authors!

  • PJ Wetzel : Apr 7th

    Got a pretty good set-up for weathering this pandemic. I live on the beach on Topsail Island, NC, not far from the 11-mile beach-walk that North Carolina’s state trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail includes here. Public beach access parking areas are closed. The town has banned all vacation rentals. For me ‘Hike-near-home’ means a five-mile daily sunrise beach hike, and I’ve never seen the beach so empty this time of year.

    I had just finished a long cross-country hike along the Oregon-Overland Trail last summer and had planned to write this spring even before Covid-19 showed up. So now I have the perfect excuse, no distractions, to write. What I’m writing first is a long-overdue memoir of my AT hike in 2012. It was unique. I hiked 270 day hikes, did not spend a single night on the trail, but back to my ‘two-ton-steel-tent’ each night by midnight. I passed every white blaze twice, starting January 1st and finishing on November 3rd. 4368.4 miles ‘or bust’ was my mantra, posted in every shelter register.

    It’s amazing how many memories are coming back as I write. It’s like taking a virtual hike of the AT all over again. I recommend this to some of you other hikers. Write about your hike, dig out your old photos, dig back through your social media postings, and relive the joy. It’s inspiring me. It’s making me consider returning to do the AT again in 2021 before I get too old to do it (I’m 71).

    Meanwhile maybe my memoir will turn up in somebody’s book club list in the future (hint, hint, *grin*)

  • Russ1663 : Apr 10th

    Home plotting local trails and wanting to be taking in the view at McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth. Looking longingly at a laminated map of the Va Creeper Trail and section hiking from Damascus to Marion (Va). Being glad wife and I stay hurricane prepped so we were ready for staying in quite a bit. Checking my gear and trying to coordinate a day on the Colonial Parkway. It’s 23 miles long and does take a day. Or prehaps the Va Capitol Trail,Jamestown to Richmond. Maps and planning. Out on a trail as much as possible.


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