• Mud, Rocks, Blazes

  • Letting Go on the Applachian Trail
  • By: Heather Anderson
  • Narrated by: Chelsea Stephens
  • Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (387 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Following her best-selling memoir, Thirst, here is the next step in Heather “Anish” Anderson’s adventurous life journey - one of deep emotion and self-discovery

Despite her success setting a self-supported Fastest Known Time record on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013, Heather “Anish” Anderson still had such deep-seated insecurities that she became convinced her feat had been a fluke. So two years later she set out again, this time hiking through mud, rocks, and mountain blazes to crush her constant self-doubt and seek the true source of her strength and purpose.

The 2,189 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, did not make it easy. Anderson struggled with its infamous rain, humidity, insects, and steep grades for 54 days. But because she had to fight for every step, she knew when she reached the summit of Springer Mountain, the AT’s southern terminus, that she had fully earned the trail. Of greater value, she learned to love herself and her body, and to feel the depth of her power. Examining emotional scars as well as her relationship with her mother, Anderson’s deeply internal yet highly physical journey in Mud, Rocks, Blazes is an essential story.

©2021 Heather Anderson (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

Featured Article: The Best Hiking Audiobooks


Hiking is a time-honored way to appreciate and learn about nature while improving your physical and mental health. But even if you can't get out on the trail yourself at the moment, these hiking audiobooks will give you a greater appreciation for the sport. Hiking's broad appeal and long history have formed the basis of many compelling works of nonfiction. They run the gamut from intense stories of survival and perseverance to gentle explorations of the healing power of nature. Each of these hiking audiobooks is perfect whether you are out on a hike or sitting behind the wheel of a car.

What listeners say about Mud, Rocks, Blazes

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Good story.... of self doubt and self pity

Let me start off by saying this review is in no way to take away from Heather Anderson's accomplishments, her FKTs, hiking abilities, etc. I can only hope to one day thru hike one of three long trails in the US. I couldn't imagine how difficult and the situations a thru hiker must overcome to keep going on a daily basis. That being said, this review is just my opinion,
I have a long commute to work (an hour each direction) and this is my 49th audio book in the last year+. I listened to "Thirst" about her FKT hike of the PCT prior to buying this book. Heather is a great writer. She describes her hikes vividly and in detail making you wish you were there. The biggest problem I have is her REPEATED self doubt, lack of confidence, self pity, whoa is me attitude. We all (not just thru hikers) question our abilities, question how far we can push ourselves, have fear of failing, etc. This is absolutely normal. No one is 100% confident in their own skin and 100% mentally strong. I understand this. What I don't understand is why Heather has to keep stating it over and over and over in the book. I may had thought the same when listening to Thirst but there's been too many books in between. Listening to her self doubt is like listening to a broken record. We as a reader (listener in my case) want to hear the story and be excited, not keep hearing the author questioning why her abilities and why she is doing this. Heather - you ARE strong. You ARE an accomplished hiker! Stop questioning yourself (or at least don't repeat it over and over in your books).

11 people found this helpful

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Whining whining whining

Admire the accomplishment. Tried of the constant whining. Actually feel sorry her self worth was so low to punish yourself like that to prove to yourself you are not a failure.
First book I've stopped in a long time.
I pray she's doing well.
Edit: I went back and finished the book to see if it turned a corner. Although I won't give that away, I still feel empathy for her a lot more than admiration.

5 people found this helpful

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why is the narrator so breathy?

The book was great! My only issue was with the narration. why was the narrator so breathless and breathy? every sentence sounds like a huff and puff.

1 person found this helpful

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  • CP
  • 09-11-21

Narrator Issues

Couldn’t finish this book because the narrator sucks in her breath every sentence. Perhaps she is trying to add what she feels is the author’s constant anxiety.

1 person found this helpful

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Pounding Head

As a distance runner, primarily trails here in the Rockies of Montana (Bitterroot Selway Range) and someone who will be moving into ultra marathons next year, the author's incessant whining and bad decision making is maddening in this book. Truly hard to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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Narration difficult to listen to

I really wanted to like this book, but the narrator speaks so breathlessly, as though reading a romance novel, I just couldn’t listen anymore. I can’t rate the story itself because I could only tolerate it for about 15 minutes. Hope you have better luck than me.

1 person found this helpful

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Way Too Dramatic

While I admire the many incredible accomplishments of Anish, and don’t doubt the many “downers” of any hike and particularly an FKT, this book is SO dramatic where almost nothing happens that is good or enjoyable. It didn’t make me excited to continue reading.

1 person found this helpful

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Narrator style

I loved the story but had a really hard time listening to the narrator. She is almost whining the whole time - ending almost every sentence with a sigh or audible breath. Very annoying

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Good Story, Poor Narration

The narrator was way too breathy and dramatic throughout the story.
I wish if have read the book instead of listened, because I felt that some sentiments were lost in the dramatization of the narration.

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Not my Favorite

I love self-narrative stories about thru hikes. I want so badly to like this author, especially after all she’s accomplished. However, her stories are so centered solely around herself and her accomplishments, it is hard for me to read. Most of the narratives I read have colorful stories about events and other hikers along the trail to self-discovery. This story is just about how she tells herself she fails everything and then how she doesn’t. Rinse and repeat. I pushed through Thirst, but could not push myself through this one.

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  • darren
  • 08-06-22

kept me hooked

what an inspiring listen kept me positive throughout my trail running practices many thanks

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-03-22

Obsession and determination

I haven’t read her first book, Thirst, but this one came up in my recommendations for books included in Audible’s Plus Catalogue (a library of free for members), so I thought I’d give it a go.
Heather “Anish” Anderson tells a story of striving to crush her constant self-doubt and seek the true source of her strength and purpose. Hiking the Appalachian Trail – super quickly – is more than just a physical endeavour, it’s a mental one, too. During the 54 days of her FKT attempt, Heather deals with rain, humidity, insects, steep gradients, running out of food, falling over, and plenty of other challenges. The book is incredibly detailed with interesting anecdotes, I really got a sense of this hiker’s obsession and determination.
Most importantly, there is much talk in this tale of how Heather learns to love her herself and her body. A worthy listen, especially if you like hiking.

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  • S. Anderson
  • 06-27-22

Enjoyable listen but robotic narrator

I enjoyed the story but I struggled at first to get past the very robotic sounding voice. I even thought it was an automated reader at times! However, once I got into it I wasn’t so aware of it and enjoyed listening to an awesome adventure.

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  • Jonathan T
  • 03-24-22

Relentless

There is a certain repetition in the description of the constant challenges and mental battles Heather faces throughout the hike. However, this does suit the nature of the undertaking , and it's a compelling story of obsession and determination in pursuit of a big goal.

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  • Jacob Russell
  • 03-19-21

the best thru hiking book of all time?

I love this book. Anish is hard.core! the opening is mind blowing. you ain't never walked like this girl. what a legend. and it brought all my memories back of the AT '12 and the JMT as well. loved it. she writes so well. it's utterly inspiring and I've been doing 10 miles a day and losing weight since I read it... going to do some thru hiking this summer as a direct result of this book