Halfway to the Sky Fact Checks

July 24, 2009 at 11:01 am 8 comments

As I read Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s Halfway to the Sky, a book about a 12 year old girl’s section hike on the Appalachian Trail, I kept my eyes open for inaccuracies, particularly when the girl reaches parts of the trail I was familiar with. For the most part I was thwarted. For example, when I got to the May 1st chapter, I read this line when the characters arrive at Pine Swamp Shelter which is under the jurisdiction of my beloved Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.

Vivi said, “Any bunks left for us?”

Wait a second, there are no bunks at Pine Swamp Shelter! I thought I had busted the author! Then I read on.

The one I later learned was named Jake said, respectfully, “No bunks, ma’am, there’s just a floor in this shelter.”

But I did find one tiny mistake later in that chapter. The author refers to a Pearisburg, West Virginia. According to Google Maps, there is no such place. I believe the author meant the quaint town that rests below the beautiful Angel’s Rest view– Pearisburg, Virginia.

Pearisburg Fail
WRONG! Pearisburg is in Virginia

In the author’s defense, it is pretty close to the West Virginia border. And I can forgive that mistake– especially since one of my favorite, but often ignored, mountains made it into the book – Sinking Creek Mountain! The author was dead-on about a characteristic of the ridgeline:

“Sinking Creek Mountain is part of the Eastern Continental Divide,” I told her.

Yup, it sure is:
Sinking Creek Mountain - Eastern Continental Divide
RIGHT! Sinking Creek Mountain is part of the Continental Divide

And it is a beautiful mountain at that. I’m thrilled it was included in the story. : )

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Sinking Creek Mountain.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Clint  |  July 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    “Near West Virginia” doesn’t mean “in West Virginia”, so it’s neither wrong nor a mistake. In fact, I know more about where Pearisberg is from thier “mistake” than I would have known before, which is simply “somewhere in Virginia, not necessarily near WV”.

    • 2. Clint  |  July 24, 2009 at 1:57 pm

      (BTW, above comment referred to your caption on the Google Maps saying google was wrong when they were not — they say Pearisburg, VA! — and not regarding the author who says Pearisburg is in WV.)

  • 3. tgaw  |  July 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Oh okay– I’ll start addressing your Christmas cards to Alexandria, DC instead of Alexandria, VA. That’ll tell the post man that you live closer to DC rather than “somewhere in Virginia”

    • 4. Clint  |  July 24, 2009 at 1:44 pm

      I think you need to look up the definition of “near”.

      Unfortunately, postage requires exact precision, not just approximate precision.

      But “near DC” does indeed describe our location MUCH more precisely than simply “Virginia”. If you had no idea what our address was, it would be far more likely to find us via “near DC” than “Virginia”, as there is less space “near” DC than there is in all of Virginia. Accuracy vs precision.

      • 5. tgaw  |  July 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm

        I thought that’s what you might be doing. The WRONG was referring to the book saying two characters lived in “Pearisburg, West Virginia”.

        I was using Google Maps as evidence. Although they have led me astray in the past, in this particular case, I found Google Maps to be accurate.

  • 6. Clint  |  July 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    ^ I was just coming back here to say I figured that out, haha. I saw the image on flickr first, so I went straight to the caption, and thought you were calling Google wrong for saying it was near WV! Glad we got to the bottom of this, haha.

    • 7. Clint  |  July 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

      I’ll try to be more thorough next time. Sorry about that.

  • 8. geekhiker  |  July 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    *shrug* I blame the editor. 🙂


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