• Waking Up on the Appalachian Trail

  • A Story of War, Brotherhood, and the Pursuit of Truth
  • By: N. B. Hankes
  • Narrated by: TJ Clark
  • Length: 9 hrs and 27 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (50 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Nate Hankes returned home from his tour in Iraq unable to answer one simple question: Had his mission overseas been honorable?

Determined to find clarity and forge a new identity outside of the US Army, Nate, alongside his brother, Ben, a recent college grad delaying his entry into the Great Recession job market, set out to hike the entire length of the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail. 

Unpredictable weather, brutal terrain, straining health, and a fractured mind stretched beyond comfort by a wise but imperfect hiking companion turn this walk in the woods into an adventure of body, mind, and spirit. And in a world gone mad, this coming-of-age story reminds us that true clarity and peace can only be found within.

Advanced praise: 

“Like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail is a tale of transformation and emergence from trauma and confusion into something closer to insight and clarity. Hankes writes from the heart, and his story is both powerful and important. I hope this book finds the large, passionate audience it deserves.” (Chris Ryan, PhD, author of Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress and host of the Tangentially Speaking podcast) 

“There are two battlefields described in Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail - none in Iraq and the other within the human heart and mind. Nate Hankes’ memoir is the perfect metaphor for the path that leads each of us from ignorance, fear, and suffering to true freedom, reconciliation, and awakening. This book will change your life.” (Darren Main, author of Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic)

“In his courageous exploration and dogged determination to make sense of his young life as an Iraq war combat veteran, Nathan Hankes offers us the raw, honest, and gritty perspective of one who is willing to question everything in the service of living a connected, empathic and meaningful life.” (Heidi Bourne, mindfulness educator and consultant, Pacific Mindfulness)

“Tim O’Brien wrote in his novel about Vietnam, The Things They Carried, ‘A true war is never moral.’ Nathan Hankes reminds us of that, but shows us there is a way forward: By bravely seeking truth, one step at a time, to understanding and redemption.” (Kevin Sites, author of The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won’t Tell You About What They’ve Seen, Done, or Failed to Do in War)

Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail is a deeply personal and powerful tale of a young veteran’s journey to understand his role in America’s post-9/11 wars. This unique coming-of-age story is an incredible encapsulation of young peoples’ general disillusionment with American exceptionalism and the frustration that comes from questioning the status quo. I can’t wait to see where Nathan goes next.” (Allegra Harpootlian, ReThink Media)

©2020 Nathan Hankes (P)2020 Nathan Hankes

What listeners say about Waking Up on the Appalachian Trail

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not a trail story...a political opinion piece.

As a veteran I was excited to hear this story. Instead I got a political opinion hack job. Im apolitical for a reason. Don't waste your time!!!

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent

If you're like me and dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail, you will love this book.

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Decent story of a full SOBO through-hike

The "waking up" in this story is the author realizing that the foundational beliefs from his right-wing upbringing aren't the only point of view in the world. Although the author seems to have had his mind blown by this realization, to folks who are already hip to the realities of the US military industrial complex, this part of the story will likely feel like old news. The best parts of this book, for me anyway, were the frank and funny stories of life on the trail, and the stories from the author's time in the military. Certainly if you've hiked on the AT, you'll recognize many of the places they visit, and the personalities and characters they encounter are very relatable and humorous. Also, the fact that they were going southbound makes it unusual in the annals of AT stories, so if you're curious about the SOBO experience, check it out. Overall it was a fun listen, even if the main crux of the story was less revelatory to me than it seemed to be to the author.

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Young and Salty Trooper

He quit after one tour and four years. Another young and naïve Soldier who fell for the propaganda. in his case, he found some new propaganda on trail and took to that. The author never spent enough time with one thing to learn the truth for himself - he takes the words of the army or dudes on the trail as gospel. Listening to him on the Trek, it sounds like he hasn’t changed much.

There are many sides to this story.

Not a fan of the reader - trying to make each line significant. Good story though.

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More AT, Less politics

The story was light and enjoyable. the struggles on AT are clear. However the constant barage of politics was not what I was looking for in a book such as this.

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A little disappointed

The parts about the authors hike with his brother are great. The brief parts about his time overseas are interesting. The rants about politics, society, etc. we’re very annoying.

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A dream in a book

loved this book. the AT is one of the few trails I hope to hike sometime in the future!!

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Not my favorite

I like reading books by people that long distance hike. Unfortunately, along with his and his brothers hiking experience I had to listen to every thought he ever had on war, politics, pot smoking and more. Not my favorite.

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SoBo

This was a good book. Nice to hear a south bounders version and story about the AT.

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A nice story of self discovery

Nate embarked to hike the AT in order to find meaning in his military service. Along the way he made peace with his experiences and others he met made discoveries about themselves. The book is well written and the narration is done very well. This is a story that takes place along the AT and not in depth about the journey as a book such as AWOL. If you like booked about the AT and personal growth this a good book for you.