Sticks and Stones

Diane “Sticks” Harsha

How does a middle-aged wife, mother, and FBI agent pursue her dream of hiking 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine?

Sticks Harsha balances her trekking ambitions against the responsibilities of daily life by hiking the Appalachian Trail in sections, one piece at a time.

Across a thirteen-year odyssey, Sticks discovers the best of America: the stunning beauty and diversity of nature, the quaintness of small towns, the quirkiness of fellow hikers, and, above all, the generosity of strangers.

She also discovers the disorientation of extreme thirst, the unpredictability of feral animals, and the dangers of life-threatening winds across knife-edge precipices in the isolated, mountainous wilds.

Follow this brilliantly written saga of one woman’s quest to hold onto her dream even as her body ages and her spirit tires, making her question whether she will ever finish her journey.

And whether she will truly make it back home.

Press & Praise

Gerald D. Swick, author of the West Virginia Histories series

In 2005, Diane Harsha strapped on a pack and took her first steps on the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia. She completed her 2,200-mile odyssey atop Mount Katahdin, Maine, thirteen years later. With humor and unvarnished honesty, she tells us how she carried out her quest, section by section, to hike the AT while also fulfilling her roles as wife, mother, and FBI agent—proving we don't have to put off our dreams until we 'have the time' to pursue them. Sometimes solo and sometimes accompanied by Smokin' Goat, Kim Commando, She Who Falls A Lot, or other strong, colorful women, 'Sticks' (as she became known) encounters bears, rattlesnakes, unfriendly Bubbas, storms, and other dangers that threaten to derail her plans. But always, the beauty of the AT that she writes of so reverently calls on her to strap on her pack and tackle the next challenge. Whether you have also answered the call of the wild or prefer to live it vicariously, you'll find much to laugh about and love in this delightful coming-of-middle-age memoir.

Lesley Wischmann, author of Frontier Diplomats and This Far-off Wild Land

Few of us have the imagination, fortitude, courage, or pluck to tackle a 2,200-mile hike. But the intrepid Diane 'Sticks' Harsha is not most of us. For thirteen years, she entwined her life with the Appalachian Trail. Now, she offers an enthralling memoir that transports us across dramatically beautiful landscapes, through ever-changing weather, and into triumph and despair, enlivened by memorable characters and quirky landing zones. As she crawls through sleet across New Hampshire's White Mountains, your skin will sting and your knees ache. While she jokes about 'nature...rolling in the aisles at (her) antics,' we just marvel at her grit. A truly gifted writer with a talent for evocative phrasing, Sticks reminds us what being alive is truly all about. We may not share her admirable perseverance, but we can all revel in Sticks' captivating story.

George Spain, author of Lost Cove and Sundancing with Crazy Horse

For 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, over mountains and into valleys, through forests and fields, we walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail with Diane 'Sticks' Harsha. She takes us with her on this finely written memoir, and the details put you right there with her throughout this amazing journey. We see, hear, and feel the rain, snow, hail, heat, bear, deer, snakes, and danger, and then suddenly, we are given glimpses into the soul of a hiker: 'In reality, these miles would reduce me to a ragged winter bone from which all the marrow had been sucked until even the hungriest dog would disdain it.' That's good writing! Go buy this book, then go home, sit down, and enjoy the hike with Sticks.

Sticks (as she became known on the Trail) was not born into a family of adventurers or a community of outdoor enthusiasts. She discovered a love for hiking in the post-9/11 years, when she sought a sense of balance and serenity away from the demands of her career.

From 2005 to 2017, Sticks lived her life with one foot on the Appalachian Trail and one foot off, her heart always in two places but her mind at peace. Now retired from the FBI, Sticks lives in Franklin, Tennessee, where she dreams of future trails.

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