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|She Walks These Hills:
he Walks These Hills is the story of mountain journeys, both literal and figurative. Charlotte Pentland's passion is the first Appalachian journey: that of the mountains themselves. Through a vein of the mineral serpentine that runs from the hills of Georgia up to Nova Scotia, she hopes to trace the mountains' kinship back across the ocean following the serpentine chain to its beginning, in the mountains of western Scotland. Scholarly research in a good place to hide from an unpleasant reality: that Charlotte's father is the escaped convict, even now wandering in the Appalachians.
Historian Jeremy Cobb is backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, attempting to retrace the tragic journey of Katie Wyler, who was kidnapped by the Shawnee in 1779, and who escaped, making her way home through hundreds of miles of wilderness. Jeremy has no trail experience, but he is determined to complete his scholarly quest or die trying. He doesn't know that the spirit of Katie Wyler is still seen wandering the hills, trying to get home. Mountain wise woman Nora Bonesteel sees her every autumn "when the air is crisp, and the light is slanted, and the birds are still."
Sheriff Spencer Arrowood feels sorry for Harm, imprisoned for life for killing a hated local bureaucrat. There is even some doubt about Harm's guilt. Besides, the elderly convict has Korsakoff's syndrome, a side effect of chronic alcoholism that robs its sufferers of their recent memories. To Harm, it is always 1967. As the psychiatrist tells a deputy: "You may get this fellow out of the hills, but you'll never get him out of the past. He's got nowhere to go." Harm doesn't even remember the crime. He doesn't know he's an escaped convict. For Martha Ayers, who wants the job of deputy, catching Harm Sorley would be the best way to prove her fitness for the position.
Harm, an Appalachian Don Quixote on the edge of reality, meets both Jeremy and the still-wandering Katie Wyler on his journey back to a home that isn't there any more. He is the "last moonshiner," holding the dream of an unspoiled wilderness in the fragile web of his delusions. When he goes, it will be lost forever.
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