The Appalachian Trail—a hiking trail in the eastern United States—is for many an icon of the American wilderness experience. It is an unruly landscape, one which is yearly being re-made, re-marked, and “reclaimed” to wilderness. Within its corridor of trees, the Appalachian Trail hides decaying farms bought by forced purchase, ghosts of old cemeteries, and many different paths through the trees. There is a palpable sense of possibility, of constant change, and of what could have been. In this article, drawing on recent research in cultural geography which emphasizes the unsettled and unsettling nature of landscape, I will introduce the potential for new, digital literary-spatial forms made on the Appalachian Trail to write and to enact this unruly landscape.
David McLaughlin is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of East Anglia. His research takes a non-representational approach to writing and reading as practices which co-produce space, identity, and community. He has a PhD in Geography from the University of Cambridge, where he studied readers’ mobile and creative engagement with Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.