How the Wild Effect Turned Me into a Hiker at 69: An Appalachian Trail Adventure
Book ISBN:
ebook ISBN:
300 pgs, trade paper, $21.95




How the Wild Effect Turned Me into a Hiker at 69: An Appalachian Trail Adventure



It wasn't the wildlife, the fresh air, the scenery, or the promise of a simple life that drew retired editor Jane Congdon into the woods. It was the WILD EFFECT! Record numbers of women were taking to the trails after reading Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir. Like many others, Jane had little hiking experience, yet she spent 17 weeks on the Appalachian Trail. Jane logged nearly 1,200 miles hiking with partners, alone, and with a glass good-luck charm named Ms. Rabbit. This is her fascinating and humorous account of life in a land of bears, wild pigs, volatile weather, primitive conditions, trail town stops, and the personalities she met along the way. Readers of How the WILD EFFECT Turned Me into a Hiker at 69 will learn how a long-distance hike changed one hiker’s perceptions of both Mother Nature and human nature.


Jane Congdon grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. After graduating from Concord College (now Concord University), she made a career of words, working as an English teacher and a newspaper reporter before finding her niche as a textbook editor in Cincinnati, Ohio. She retired in 2009.

At age 59, Jane followed Dracula's footsteps through Transylvania, resulting in the memoir It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother, and Me (©2011). She then co-authored her brother's memoir, Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life (©2013). Both books were published by Bettie Youngs Book Publishers and are available from Amazon and other outlets.

At age 69, Jane returned to the mountains as a backpacker. To date she has hiked 1,195 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 8 of its 14 states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Maine.

Jane has spoken at conferences, libraries, book clubs, universities, outdoor clubs, and an art gallery. She is a member of West Virginia Writers and nonfiction judge for the organization’s 2019 writing competition.

She is a member of West Virginia Writers. Visit her website at

A word from the author…

I’m thrilled to contribute an award-winning memoir to the wealth of books about hiking. Every hiker’s experience is unique, yet hiking is a universal pursuit that inspires many to travel the world for the privilege. On the Appalachian Trail I was surprised to meet hikers from Australia, Germany, Romania, and Canada who came to America specifically to do a long-distance hike. The WILD EFFECT book should appeal to armchair adventurers as well as hikers, because we like to learn about the places we want to travel. If I were going to Spain to hike on the Camino de Santiago, I would read everything I could before going; but I enjoy such books now, whether or not I will ever experience those trails in person.—Jane Congdon


“You don’t have to be a hiker to appreciate this well-written account of a woman’s sudden desire for adventure.” —Jenn Granneman, author and Psychology Today blogger; founder of the website Introvert, Dear

“In a world of trail books, few have this much heart and reflection. Her tale is delivered with authenticity and an easy sense of humor, and somewhere between "Hot Pants" and "April Ice," I knew she had a hit on her hands." —Anna Huthmaker, Founder of Trail Dames, Inc.

“Amusing, entertaining, and definitely helpful! This book will give future thru-hikers an idea what to expect on the trail. Experienced hikers will see themselves and perhaps have a laugh at the fears, questions, and rookie mistakes we share on the trail and on our page." —Bunny Kramer, administrator of the 18,000-member Appalachian Trail: Women’s Group

"I was so excited for Jane to take on this adventure—and what great stories she has to tell!" —Jaimie Matzko, Lead Trail Guide for A Walk in the Woods and REI Adventures; one of 6 guides worldwide honored with REI's Top Guide award in 2017

"Jane's descriptions of the trail made me feel as if I were walking along with her. Thank goodness I could experience the beauty and the reality of the trail without really hiking! Jane also gives you a glimpse of her unique sense of humor. Enjoy this great read!" —Jackie Burnett, avid reader and 20-year veteran of book clubs

"A thoroughly excellent read! Funny, and fascinating; there is something intriguing about knowing another's thoughts, an opportunity to compare them to our own. I was in her head, and that added dimension and color to Jane's intriguing experience. Treat yourself to this fabulous book!" —Aura Imbarus, Ph.D., Founder / CEO, See Beyond magazine and author of the best-seller Out of the Transylvania Night

"This is storytelling at its best! Back again for her 3rd book, Jane Congdon gives us a witty account of a strange compulsion to hike the Appalachian Trail. Her transformation from rookie to seasoned hiker occurs over 1,195 miles of mountain trails and promises adventures along the way.” —Sharon Babineau, author of The Girl Who Gave Her Wish Away

…An Appalachian Trail adventure you won’t soon forget!