NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Emilio

Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) is a successful author who after living in England for many years, comes back to live in New Hampshire, with his loving wife, Catherine (Emma Thompson). After a TV interview, Bill goes with Catherine to a funeral. After talking to the widow and offering their condolences, Bill wants to leave, but Catherine tells him to go and talk with the others that are there.

When they get home, Bill tells Catherine that he is going for a walk. On his walk, he comes across a sign that says "The Appalachian Trail." Later that night, Bill does some research on the trail, concluding that it is a 2000+ mile trek from Georgia to Maine. When he tells Catherine about it, she voices her displeasure with the idea. But, she eventually relents when she tells Bill that she will let him go on the hike if he can find someone to go with him.

After calling everyone he knows, he almost gives up since everyone that he called declines. Suddenly, he gets a call from his long-lost friend, Stephen (Nick Nolte) who offers to go with him on the hike. When Bill tells Catherine, she gets upset because she has heard stories about Stephen's philandering ways. Bill tells her that she agreed to let him go if he found someone, which he has. So she lets him go.

Bill and his son go to an outdoor shop to buy supplies for the trip. The salesperson (Nick Offerman) entices Bill with some camping equipment, including an overpriced backpack and a tent.

Bill and Catherine go to the airport to meet Stephen. Stephen, overweight and clearly out-of-shape, stumbles off the airplane. When he sees Bill, they hug, and he also hugs Catherine.

That night, Stephen tells Bill's family stories about Bill with other women in his past. Bill, who was out of the room, comes in and is surprised that Stephen told them about that. Catherine asks Bill why he kept those stories a secret, to which he says that he forgot about it. Catherine tells Stephen that she wants to hear more of these stories.

The next day, the two men head off to the start point of the trail. The first morning is clearly the most difficult. Bill starts off at a nice pace, but Stephen is very slow, so Bill has to adjust his pace. Other hikers pass them, including a boy scout group.

They stop to get something to eat, which is when they are approached by Mary Ellen (Kristen Schaal), a loud, arrogant, know-it-all hiker who doesn't hike with others because she points out their techniques as being wrong and assumes that she is the only one who hikes "the correct way".

She tags along with Bill and Stephen, constantly talking about them and even telling Bill that he got ripped off at the outdoor shop and that the salesperson must have seen him coming.

That night, Bill goes over to Stephen's tent with a plan to ditch Mary Ellen. They agree to get up early and head out before she wakes up. In the morning, as they prepare to leave, Mary Ellen wakes up. She asks them if they are leaving, and they say they are. Bill asks if she wants them to wait for her. She says that she will catch up. When she goes back into her tent, Bill and Stephen take off down the trail. She begins to catch up to them, so they hide until she passes by, and then they continue.

They come across another hiker heading in the opposite direction. He tells them that a storm is coming and that they should prepare for it. Stephen looks up at the clouds and doesn't see any sign of an approaching storm.

All of a sudden, they are hit by a snowstorm. They eventually make camp and are able to ride out the storm. They come to a motel with some cabins. When they ask for a cabin, the front desk attendant tells them that all that is left is a couple of bunks in the main room.

They go and settle in their bunks. Stephen takes the top bunk while Bill takes the bottom. Bill lays down in his bunk and looks up and notices the boards cracking from Stephen's weight. Suddenly, Stephen crashes through and falls onto Bill.

They continue on and eventually come to another town. They head to the local motel, where the proprietor, Jeannie (Mary Steenburgen) begins to develop feelings for Bill after they have a conversation. Bill decides not to do anything with Jeannie, due to him being married.

The next morning, Bill and Stephen go to the local laundromat to do some laundry. Bill decides to go to K-Mart to get some supplies before they head out, but ends up falling into a mud pit after taking a shortcut to avoid crossing a busy highway to get to the store.

Stephen develops an attraction to a woman who comes into the laundromat. They decide to meet at a fire station later that day. Bill comes back with his clothes all muddy and Stephen tells him the story of the woman at the laundromat.

Stephen goes to meet the woman while Bill goes to have lunch at a restaurant. As he's having lunch, Stephen comes in and tells Bill that the woman is married and that her husband is looking for him (Stephen). So, they go back to the motel and prepare to get ready to get back on the trail. All of a sudden, they hear screeching tires. It is the woman's husband. He is knocking on all of the doors in the motel, trying to find Stephen. They are able to avoid the man by escaping out the window in the bathroom.

They get back on the trail. On the path, they are chatting when they find themselves at the edge of a cliff, overlooking a beautiful landscape view. They choose to stop and end up having an enlightening conversation about Stephen's past as an alcoholic and his being sober for years. He shows Bill a bottle of bourbon that he has in his bag. He tells Bill that the bottle is a reminder that he can drink, but that he chooses not to. He has Bill open the bottle, which he does. Bill hands the bottle back to Stephen. Stephen smells the bourbon inside the bottle and then pours it out.

Later that night, Bill hears some noises in the woods. He wakes Stephen up and asks him if he hears it. Stephen passes it off as being nothing. Bill shines a flashlight into the bushes and two grizzly bears come out and start smelling around. Stephen gets frightened, but Bill suggests that they have to stand up to the bears and then they will go away. With their tents, they are able to appear larger, make noises, and successfully frighten the two bears away.

The next day, they continue on and pass a sign that says that this particular area is only for experienced hikers. They press on and end up accidentally falling down a part of a ravine onto a small section of a platform that overlooks the river below. They are trapped because they cannot climb back up the mountain and cannot climb down because of the river below. So after trying to make a makeshift rope with their clothes, they concede for the night.

The next morning, they are noticed by two hikers that they encountered earlier in the trip, who rescue them. As they press on, they notice a map that highlights where they are in the trail. The map shows that they have only hiked about a third of the entire length of the trail, and they have already been hiking for months (they started in April, and it was already after June). It is not too long afterward that Bill asks Stephen if he wants to go home. Stephen says that he does.

Bill accompanies Stephen to the bus station where they say their goodbyes. Bill heads home and hugs a grateful Catherine. Bill goes over to his study where Catherine has put all of his mail, including some postcards. The postcards are from Stephen, who wrote them on his bus trip home. The postcards comment on different key things during the trip, including the grizzly bear incident. On the final postcard, Stephen writes, "Hey Bill. What's next?"

Bill opens up his laptop and begins writing his new book, entitled "A Walk In The Woods".


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Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) attempts to hike the Appalachian Trail with his friend, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte). They have all sorts of misadventures and run-ins with others on the trail. They eventually give up after finding out that completing the trail, at their pace, would take a year or more. During the trip, the two men reconnect after many years and become best friends again.

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