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Jeffrey "LONER" Gray

AT Class of 2012

   Only vaguely aware long distance hiking trails crisscrossed the country, a chance meeting led to Jeff's discovery of the Appalachian Trail. Who could have ever guessed that during his journey, “Loner” would be bitten by a dog (and a lobster), happen upon a plane crash, chat with a wanted fugitive, come face-to-face with a black bear, see a ghost, be in a car accident, run completely out of money (twice), spend the night under a jail, lose 80 pounds, and find the girl of his dreams? And all to have the time of his life, feel the kindness of others and ultimately learn, he’s not a loner after all.

   Documenting, for friends and family, his trip on YouTube, thousands more also followed along, vicariously. This story captures the excitement, fun, sadness and danger of a thru-hike with many added details, photos, funny characters and dozens of incidents never before revealed.

   More than just a memoir, Hiker Tips will inspire future hikers to begin their own ultralight backpacking adventure! (Loner’s total pack weight was only 13 pounds.) Also, Fun Facts will help readers gain rare insight into a subculture with its own ethics, trail names, history, hostel system, language and folklore.  

Read 400 reviews on Amazon!

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful account of someone who hiked the AT
By EGZ on October 31, 2021
Very nice account of an AT hike, he wrote about all of it, the good and the bad. It was a good story.

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative
By Gladys Wintill on September 29, 2021
Having read many hiking books this book had a hold on me, lots of information about the trail and towns as well as history. I almost choked laughing about the hitchhiking car crash.I was rooting for this guy all the way! Great read

5.0 out of 5 stars Appalachian trail
By Bob Plummer 
on March 20, 2022
I loved the book and it just made me want even more to hike the trail someday. This summer I am going to visit the trail and hike at least a short distance. This book has helped and renewed my interest in it. Thank you.

5.0 out of 5 stars Not Yet Ready for the AT
By David G. on December 28, 2019
At 76, I'm just getting started into hiking, camping, etc. Completed 9 days of Outward Bound School in Big Bend, TX. 50 years ago, I did parts of the AT, and canoeing on Delaware, while working at YMCA Camp in Poconos. Books like these bring back great memories, but help to formulate future challenges for me.

5.0 out of 5 stars An honest account of his hike
By Laura B Wade
on May 17, 2019
The honesty and modesty of his hike was so informative in a way that I was really interested in what he was going to experience next.  I've read lots of books on the AT. This by far as been the best one. Best of luck and love to you Loner

5.0 out of 5 stars Read it! It's Time Well Spent.
By D. Molnar on September 21, 2018
I followed Loner on YouTube during his 2012 AT thru-hike and greatly enjoyed both his personality and the videos. I was equally pleased with his book. It is well written and a joy to read. As Loner promised, it is full of great stories, hiker tips and entertaining information about the AT. There are many books about hiking the AT but what made this book special was all of the obstacles that Loner overcame as he headed north. To name just a few, they included excessive body weight, a lack of money, and his ultralight gear setup that occasionally left him unprepared. Despite these obstacles he kept a great attitude and a clear desire to enjoy his journey. He clearly did enjoy it and so did I.

5.0 out of 5 stars Painted Blazes brings something new to the AT book world
By Michael Machette on September 7, 2018
Just finished Loners book and it was great. I have read a dozen books on hiking the AT and this is one of the best. The book goes into a number of directions I have not seen before. I watched the You Tube series a second time as I read the book and it was really nice to get the full experience. This one is worth the time and was a great pleasure to read.

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Adventure with Loner
By Christine R. Boule on September 3, 2017
I'm pretty sure I have read every book ever printed on hiking the Appalachian

trail. This one stands out as "one of the best"...and I am in the process now of watching the youtube videos you made and I am enjoying them immensly. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking right along with you. You did great job with your videos, and your book!! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful adventure.

5.0 out of 5 stars It’s been really fun following Loner and I recommend you check...
By Steveon on July 3, 2018
I read Painted Blazes by “Loner” Jeff Gray last month and watched all of his 2012 Appalachian Trail thru hike videos on YouTube. He is one of the first to video blog and post while hiking. He’s now hiking the Vermont Long Trail and just posted some of his videos covering that adventure. It’s been really fun following Loner and I recommend you check out his videos. If you like the videos you’ll love his book! Full of history about the trail and just and over all fun adventure to read.

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
By Amazon Customer on September 1, 2017
I've read more than 30 AT hiking narratives in the last 10 years and this is one of the very best. I wish the pictures were of better quality but what pictures Loner decided to put in the book were so relevant. I've always wondered what the Huts in the Whites looked like and now I know. I admired his sense of adventure in that even though he was seriously low on money, he plowed on fearlessly. Thanks for writing the book Jeff. Now go hike the PCT and get your weight down again. Then write another book. Oh and thanks for doing the hike smart so that I didn't have to groan about another dumb and unprepared hiker.

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account of hiking the A.T.
By Garry57 on August 25, 2017
Just finished "Painted Blazes" and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I followed "Loners" YouTube series and I was glad to see the book become available. It is certainly one of the best and most unique accounts of hiking the A.T. that I have read. I would highly recommend this book. Thanks Jeffrey

5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book
By Reed Moore on August 25, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. Loner's account of his through hike made me want to put on my backpack and hit the trail!

5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book.
By nathan1974v Aug 24, 2017
It has interesting content, good stories about hiking the AT, it's easy to read, has lots of local historical facts about places on the trail. Plus, the author is a very likable guy, someone who would be cool to hike with, you can tell that from his youtube videos. I've read a LOT of hiking books and journals and I'd rate this one right up there up with my favorites.

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
By Wayne E. Weatherwax on August 24, 2017
Enjoyed it

5.0 out of 5 stars Such an excellent book.

By acerdancingpeacock Aug 16, 2017
What a great book to dive into Appalachian Trail such detail of his wonderful journey of the Appalachian Trail highly recommend this book to anybody interested in hiking or just curious about the Appalachian Trail.

5.0 of 5 stars Great read! Get this book!
By Mazz on August 7, 2017
Painted Blazes is a well written and entertaining book! Loner's description of his experiences along this hike makes you feel like you were there along with him. I can't put it down!

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
By Wise Fool on August 7, 2017

A must read for anyone considering hiking the AT. Loner's account is like a frontier log cabin--rough hewn and honest. It is refreshing to read about how the AT really is--with all of its challenges and serendipitous adventures. Well Done!

5.0 out of 5 stars Much More than just Another Book about Hiking the AT
By Chad W Wesselman on August 6, 2017

There are many books about hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT). I have read about a dozen of them. What sets Painted Blazes apart is the depth and breadth of knowledge Loner gives the reader. At the core Painted Blazes is a story of one man's long walk up the backbone of the eastern United States. You get the running commentary you expect from a trail journal. Discussion of the miles hiked, interactions with other hikers, town stops and interesting events along the way. But Painted Blazes goes deeper than that. Loner gives suggestions of which campsites or hostels to consider when planning your own hike depending on price, amenities and location. Hiker Tips are included throughout the book to help anyone venturing into the woods. The appendices in Painted Blazes are also a good resource. They show the would be thru hiker the minimal items needed for the AT. Also included is a large glossary of hiker terms.

The depth of Painted Blazes continues by including local history, both on and off the trail. Loner does a fantastic job of giving the reader some local flavor. He includes what hikers in the past experienced while on trail but also what events occurred that shaped the towns along the way. This makes Painted Blazes much more than a trail journal. Loner's inclusion of the cast of characters he encountered while hiking the trail adds various story lines to the book (Appendix E contains hiker updates). Outside the book he answers questions from aspiring hikers and leaves supportive comments on YouTube videos of hikers on the trail. This is why I consider Loner the AT's patron saint of encouragement. I think you will agree when you read the book. Be sure to watch his YouTube videos filmed as he was hiking the AT as a nice companion to the book.

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read!!
By Remo on August 6, 2017

Jeffrey's laid back attitude and down to earth style sets the tone for this enjoyable book about his A.T. adventure!

5.0 out of 5 stars Painted Blazes - A Must Read!
By Amazon Customer on August 2, 2017
Such a great read! As someone who followed Loner's AT journey on his YouTube channel, I was anxious to read the book and get all the details of his trip. This book is full of helpful tips for those planning to hike the AT - tips I don't imagine you would find anywhere else. I appreciate that the tips are honest and do not sugar coat details about stops along the trail, even those that are somewhat negative. There are companion stories and fun facts to go with almost every stop on the trail. Some serious, some funny, but all enjoyed. I really appreciated the pop culture descriptions used to talk about people that Loner met along his way. These made it easy for me to relate to and I could almost picture everyone in my mind. I have never hiked the AT, but reading Loner's trials and tribulations made me think about it! I put myself in his shoes and wondered if I would be as successful as he was and what I would do in his particular situations. I really admire Loner's planning, initiative, and perseverance through his journey and am glad that he chose to share his story with all of us.

5.0 out of 5 stars Painted Blazes = or > A Walk in the Woods
By Amazon Customer on August 1, 2017
This is a good book for new hikers as well as, seasoned ones. There are details about the trail that really are not anywhere else. Loner give "tips" that are informative and funny. I would place it in the top 10 of Appalachian Trail books. It holds its own up against Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods". If you are looking to get a feel of what a "thru hike" is like then "Painted Blazes" is the book you want to read. Watch "Loner" on youtube to make the complete experience. Thanks for sharing. Ken "the Bearded GND Hog" (formerly "hikehunter") Reaves

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars
By Kerry Young on July 28, 2017
One of the best book about a thru hiker hiking the AT in 2012. Great read !  Kerry Young

5.0 out of 5 stars I am so glad he wrote a book
By Amazon Customer on July 26, 2017

I followed loner on his thru Hike on youtube and I am so glad he wrote a book! It's an amazing book for those interested in the trail and for those who have never heard of the trail. A great read and a must have book.

5.0 out of 5 stars Not the average trail journal!
By Yoda on July 25, 2017

Another thru hike journal...I woke up...I ate oatmeal...I walked I ate lunch I met zippy from bama bla bla bla NOT!!! Thank you Loner for putting some more meat on the bone with all the local history and background. Sorry about your mom.

5 out of 5 stars Not your average trail book!
By CDG on July 25, 2017

Loner offers great insight into trail life. Different from other trail books as he gives detailed accounts of town life along the trail. Particularly helpful for those planning thru or section AT hikes.

5.0 out of 5 stars Honest account of long distance hiking!
By Amazon Customer on July 24, 2017
What a great honest account of long distance hiking. If possible read before you watch his videos, I didn't. Makes you realize that anyone can do this with the right attitude.

5.0 out of 5 stars Lot's of added tips and local history added in- love the history
By Kevin S on July 22, 2017
Loving this book and Loner's lost video series on YouTube. If you followed Jeff's thru hike back in 2012 or since then you will recognize his style in this read. Lot's of added tips and local history added in- love the history.

5.0 out of 5 stars Trail magic for the eyes...
By Sam I AM on July 21, 2017

Loner won us over on YouTube, now he tops it off with an awesome book. The AT book mould has been broken.  This book is a great read for day, section, thru-preppers and seasoned sole-burners. It should be in the hands of anyone who loves the AT.

5.0 out of 5 stars Warts and all AT Hiking Narrative: Thumbs Up!
By Edward Carmien on July 19, 2017

I know it marks me as slow and behind the times, but Loner's video blog of hiking the Appalachian Trail was the first such video series I watched, and while I've viewed several by this point, his is still the best. And that's with amateur production values and other rough edges. Part of the charm.

Painted Blazes retains that rough hewn charm. I give this five stars despite distracting (and easy to fix) textual errors, as they remind one of the home-made nature of the narrative. This is an AT hike story presented as itself, without any distortions added to make the tale more palatable or familiar to a reader. This just is how it was. The only convenience for us readers is the nature of the journey itself gives it a beginning, a long middle, and an ending that comes too soon; one almost wishes the story continued.... There are more polished AT narratives out there, and they too have their charms. What you'll take from this one is a raw sense of the sustained effort it takes to hike the AT. I've hiked enough of it to assure readers this is the real deal, warts and all. Loner shares the struggle, reveals great ultralight hiking tips, and provides his view of the AT in all its glory. His hike influences how I hike today!

5.0 out of 5 stars Loner is great at finding the good in folks' quirks.
By lisa kopel on July 18, 2017
The quirky characters Loner meets along his epic hike makes this book stand out from other hiking tomes. Loner is great at finding the good in folks' quirks (including his own). A hiking novice, I also enjoyed the tips scattered throughout the book. Also entertaining are the pictures and fun facts. But it is Loner's dogged determination to complete his goal, despite a myriad of issues, that really makes this book shine. Nicely done!

5.0 out of 5 stars Just finished this book and absolutely loved it! I couldn't put it down.
By Harvey Brooks on July 13, 2017

Just finished this book and absolutely loved it! I couldn't put it down for long. Jeff goes into detail about his journey on the AT that took place in 2012. He also has a series of videos on Youtube that chronicle his hike as well. The videos are amazing and helped create my fascination with the AT! This is a must read of the highs and lows of months on the trail!

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
By Amazon Customer on July 11, 2017

Great read!!! I can not put it down. It is very well written. I suggest that you watch his YouTube videos loner 2012 AT. It is the best book about thru hiking the AT.

5.0 out of 5 stars A humble hikers journey to complete the adventure of a lifetime
By jbs1031 on July 9, 2017

If you are a trail veteran or just curious about the AT, this book should be in your collection. The complement to his 2012 YouTube series, Painted Blazes shows the highs and lows of Loner's amazing journey. While quite the page turner, this book is also filled with a ton of useful information, hiker tips and tricks. It's obvious Loner put a ton of work into this. So if you, like me, followed Loner's journey and want to thank him for his groundbreaking video series, buy this book-you won't regret it.

5.0 out of 5 stars

By Amazon Customer on July 4, 2017

This book needs to find a place on the shelf of anyone who is dreaming of, planning or even completed a thru or section hike of the Appalachian Trail. My wife and I followed Loner's hike on YouTube and found it to be deeply honest, inspiring and entertaining. His book reveals the same humble yet insightful style of his videos but now combines them with hard learned hints and well researched history that will inform every hiker. Loner's unique quirky style make this book easily readable, entertaining and different than the other books we have read of this genre. His statement that the hardest part of his thru hike was "the suffering of others" reveals a great deal about the quality and heart of the author. While saturated with insights it is also loaded with nuts and bolts information that we have immediately included in our preparation for starting the trail in '18.

5.0 out of 5 stars

By jlvickerysr on June 30, 2017

I am reading this excellent book in synch with a third viewing of Loner's Youtube series about his 2012 AT hike. His Youtube series was the beginning of my fascination with the AT and is still the best video journal of the trail that I have seen to date, among hundreds that I have viewed in the last five year. His narratives at the end of each video provide a unique insight to the experiences of the journey by someone who does not fit any of the stereotypical notions about AT through hikers.

5.0 out of 5 stars

By Hiker Mom on June 15, 2017
I have been interested in the Appalachian trail for years and have ready many books on the subject. I think this is one of the best on the subject. It gives a look into trail life and some very interesting facts on the trail. The best part is the author is a great guy. My husband and daughter watched his thru hike video's on YouTube in 2012. These video's were one on the reasons my husband and daughter (13 years old at the time) hiked the A.T. in 2013. Jeff was a great supporter of that hike and of many other thru hikers since his hike in 2012. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Appalachian trail.

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    Jeffrey “Loner” Gray, although born in Lowell, Massachusetts, has made South Carolina his home for many years. Working as a flea market nomad most of his adult life has afforded him time to pursue other interests: Racing cars, kayaking, studying Native American artifacts, and producing hundreds of YouTube videos about diverse subjects.  Hiking the Appalachian Trail has been his biggest accomplishment and Painted Blazes, about his trail experiences, is his first book. After his mother passed away, he is continuing her independent publishing house, Shadow Archer Press, and hopes her name will live on by publishing books from a variety of authors.

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