Dr. Susan Bratton’s book, The Spirit of the Appalachian Trail: Community, Environment, and Belief on a Long-Distance Hiking Path (University of Tennessee Press, 2012) recently was recognized as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 by Choice, an academic periodical of the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association. Only about ten percent of reviewed publications are selected for recognition.
The book relates Bratton’s experiences hiking the 2,180-mile-long trail, but primarily presents the results of her systematic study of the spiritual, religious or quasi-religious experiences hikers often claim to undergo while on the trail. Over 200 hikers participated in the study.
“Some hikers have very intense religious experiences on the Trail,” Bratton says. “About a third of the hikers reported experiencing God in nature, or the trail as a spiritual environment. “
Bratton is a professor of environmental science at Baylor University. She holds PhD degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas and Cornell University, a master of arts from Fuller Seminary, and graduate certification in environmental ethics from the University of Georgia.