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Earl Shaffer's Writing

During his groundbreaking first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 1948, Earl Shaffer documented his adventures in vivid detail. Along with his photographs, Earl's trail diary was used to confirm that he was the first-ever person to complete the more than 2,000-mile long trail in one continuous journey. Filled with stories of interactions with locals and other hikers, stories of adventure, poetry, and peaceful reflections on the stillness he found in nature, this compilation was later published as his best-known book, called Walking with Spring. Renowned as a seminal work of writing in Appalachian Trail hiking lore, Walking with Spring is available for purchase through the Appalachian Trail Museum here.

Walking With Spring

Written soon after the first of his three thru-hikes and including photographs from 1948, Walking With Spring chronicles Shaffer's adventures along a path that at the time was showing the neglect of the war years and has since been rerouted significantly to its permanent location.  His simply stated story has served as an inspiration for more that 9,000 men and women who have since followed in his footsteps... and many thousands more who have tried.

Learn more and order here!

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A Grip on the Mane of Life

This long-awaited book is now available and can be ordered online from the Appalachian Trail Museum. Dave Donaldson began work on the book during Earl's last years before his passing in 2002, and eventually joined forces with Appalachian Trail activist Maurice Forrester to bring it to completion. The book was published by the Appalachian Trail Museum in 2014.

Dave was Earl's hiking companion at the end of his 1998 50th anniversary thru-hike of the AT, and was authorized by Earl to write his biography. Countless hours of tape recordings of Earl telling his story were combined with extensive research and interviews with people who knew Earl throughout his life. This book reveals many insights about Earl and how he lived his life before and after his landmark 1948 first successful thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.


CLICK HERE for how to purchase Earl's biography

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Before I Walked With Spring: The Doughboy Odyssey and Other Poems of World War II

This book, written by Earl during World War II but not published until 2008, serves as a prequel to Earl's famous bestselling book, Walking With Spring. Before I Walked With Spring uses humor and verse to describe in detail the wartime experiences in the U.S. Army that helped propel Earl to later become the first Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. The main text of the book is Earl's epic poem "The Doughboy Odyssey," which traces Earl's wide-ranging wartime travels, first training stateside as a Signal Corpsman, then serving in the Pacific theater for most of the war.     

For more information or to order, click here!

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Ode to the Appalachian Trail

While on his final thru-hike of the A.T. in 1998, Earl kept a journal which he wrote in the form of an ode, an ancient form of poetry which Earl loved. The Earl Shaffer Foundation has published this journal in a special softcover Limited Edition which is now available for purchase. The book is beautifully illustrated with color photos of Earl and the Appalachian Trail contributed by friends of Earl Shaffer.


We welcome your support of the Earl Shaffer Foundation. Profits from all sales currently go towards bringing into publication many more of Earl's works which remain yet unpublished.


HOW TO ORDER Ode to the Appalachian Trail

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Calling Me Back to the Hills

In 1948, young WWII veteran Earl Shaffer did what many people said couldn't be done: He trekked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in one continuous journey ... walking into the history books as the Trail's first thru-hiker. In 1998, on the 50th anniversary of that hike, 79-year-old Earl did it again. In this beautifully-presented book, Earl recalls his 1998 anniversary trip and pays homage to the Appalachian Trail through his prose and poetry, enhanced by dozens of Bart Smith's stunning photographs.


Join Earl and Bart on their amazing journeys along the Appalachian Trail. Some of the text for this book is derived from the original Ode To The Appalachian Trail written by Earl in 1998 describing the events of his anniversary hike, and includes original and unpublished poetry written by Earl over a period of years. The photographs, with the exception of those in the Introduction and a few others taken by friends and Earl in 1948, are the work of Bart Smith, himself a long-distance hiker and professional photographer from Tacoma, Washington, whom Earl met on the Trail in 1998. 128 pages, Hardcover.

To order, please click here!

Not Too Distant Trails

In celebration of Earl's 100th birthday, November 8, 2018, the Foundation is proud to announce the publication of a new book of Earl's heartfelt poetry about hiking on the Appalachian Trail. In this new book, the sixth containing Earl's works, the reader can witness the passion that Earl felt for the Trail and know the sense of adventure he felt as he experienced the wonders of the natural world along the Trail.

Illustrated with over 80 full-color photographs taken by Earl and others in the Appalachian Trail community, the book features more than 90 poems, songs and meditations written by Earl describing his experiences in the outdoors.

Anyone who loves hiking and the Appalachian Trail will find delight and inspiration in this new book.

CLICK HERE to order from Amazon

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South of the Sunset: More Poems of World War II including "Voyage to Anguar"

During his years as a Signal Corps specialist, Earl Shaffer poetically recorded the somber (and sometimes amusing) people and events in the Pacific Theater of World War II, a region he affectionately labeled "South of the Sunset." In his poetry, he leads the reader from island to island, culture to culture, and on the "Voyage to Anguar," which was part of the Philippine Liberation. South of the Sunset is a sequel to Earl's first book of World War II poetry, Before I Walked With Spring, which documented in ballad form his entire Army service in "The Doughboy Odyssey."

After his return from the war years, Earl decided to keep his promise to Walter Winemiller (his boyhood friend who had been killed at Iwo Jima) and attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Mountains. That journey was well-chronicled in his best-selling book, Walking With Spring. Now with the publication of South of the Sunset, more is revealed about Earl's hidden years of service in the South Pacific.

To order, click here!

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Walking With Spring (Original Edition)

This is THE original edition of "Walking With Spring", self-published by Earl in 1981. Earl had 300 copies printed in loose-leaf pages and then he bound by hand about 120 copies which he distributed himself to friends and acquaintances. This offering uses the remaining unbound pages of the original print run, later professionally bound to duplicate Earl's original manual binding using green library tape and personally autographed by Earl on the cover. A true collector's item, but quantities are limited. 

Purchase of an original edition of Walking With Spring includes a free copy of one of Earl's music CDs.

To order, click here!

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