Southbounders movie review

Author: [ trailpeak ]   Contact Author: trailpeakFri Nov 17 20:46:53 UTC 2006

Have you ever done a solo epic journey, have you ever wanted to?

Many people hike the West Coast Trail in Canada, the Nootka (a bit further north), the east Coast Trail, and shhh, several other lesser known epics that are hidden on Trailpeak (hint: search for hikes with a time to complete over two days).

We all have friends who have done incredible things. Some of mine have cycled across Canada, others South America. My longest solo is a cycle across the California and Arizona deserts, where I learned that deserts are not flat. How about solo paddling across Canada as our editor Joe O'Blenis has done?

But why do they do it? Is the saying "all that wander are not lost" true, or is it a nice cover? The movie explores this.

Southbounders is a feature length film chronicling the journey of several long distance hikers, each hiking for their own reason. What a wonderful format, it's not a documentary yet you get a great sampling of the Appalachian trail which starts in Georgia, and, ends on Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Well, that is if you are a Northbounder. But our characters are a bit different. They are Southbounders.

We follow the three Southbounders in the movie.

As writes ... "Olivia (Amy Cale Peterson) decides to "thru-hike" the legendary Appalachian Trail, a continuous footpath running along the Appalachian Mountain chain over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia. The journey will take months to complete, and Olivia is ill-prepared for the rigorous journey. An outsider to the unique world of the AT thru-hiker, Olivia is quickly befriended by hikers Rollin (Scott Speiser) and Slackpack (Christopher McCutchen). As the three hikers journey South from Maine, Olivia is drawn to the charismatic but private Rollin, and is forced to question her motives for hiking the trail."

For anyone who has read Bill Bryson's very entertaining book "A Walk in the Woods", you will know that at the end of each day, the campsites on the Appalachian trail fill with other hapless wanderers. Evening time is relax time, and for sharing stories of the journey.

It is with this setting that our three hikers go on to forge friendships and even more. Yes, in this movie there is a love interest between the protagonist, Olivia, a 19 year old solo hiker in a quest to sort out her feelings about family obligation and college life, and Rollin.

She meets a commitment leery wanderer named Rollin. Olivia is at first behind Rollin by about a day, knowing him only by his "register" logs. And what is a register, well, it's the public journal that each hiker leaves notes in at the end of the day -- at the shelters. Every person on the Appalachian trail gets a trail name, as if to further extract the person from civilization.

If you've ever quested for something, been in a relationship (or tried to) with someone who seems to be an endless wanderer ... and you love hiking, this movie is for you. No we won't spoil it for you.

The producer himself hiked the Appalachian trail, and the footage is the real thing. What's so interesting about the film is that it's created and acted by first rate film school graduates and new Broadway actors (now living in LA or New York) so the acting is good. The producer, a graduate of Northwestern University, has done a great job both with the characters, and the setting. You can settle down for the evening with this film and just enjoy without getting any mud on your boots at all.

Kurt Turchan

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