On June 22, Celia Ryker of Bridgewater Corners will release “Walking Home: Trail Stories,” a memoir of thru-hiking Vermont’s Long Trail at age 60.
“Walking Home” is “a fascinating narrative,” said Jennifer Belton, former White House Library director. The memoir weaves stories of Ryker’s childhood and lost family members alongside luscious descriptions of the Long Trail’s woodland path, wildlife, and Green Mountains. It is an honest account of the author’s arduous journey accomplishing a long-distance hike with health challenges.
Ryker was diagnosed with a brain stem virus and has residual balance issues from that and from head injuries she sustained as a child. Her right leg had also sustained multiple fractures over the years as a farmer and horse trainer, but she was inspired to long-distance hike after reading the stories of other hikers with agility issues. When she turned 60, she knew it was time to act.
“I thought I was writing an instructive booklet for the first-time geriatric distance hiker, but the book put on its own boots and took me on a different path,” said Ryker. “I would like the reader to put down my book and go out and buy new dresses, walking shoes, paint brushes, or tennis rackets. Whatever it is that they have been thinking about doing and haven’t found the time, or think they can’t do because of other constraints,” she says.
Ryker’s first career was training horses, teaching and campaigning students on southeast Michigan’s local hunter jumper circuit. After 30 years she went back to school for gardening and landscape design. “Walking Home” is her first book. Ryker and her husband Don migrate between Vermont and Michigan with their border collie, Flurry.