I’m a sucker for a good memoir and Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, does not disappoint. Strayed recollects her own tale of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (the PCT) from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon. In total, she walks eleven hundred miles, changing her life with each step. Part survival story, part bad girl gone good, Wild conjures a hybrid of A Walk In The Woods and Riding in Cars With Boys.
At twenty-two, Strayed loses her mother to cancer. Her family and her life fall apart as she tries to come to terms with her mother’s death. After the breakdown of her marriage, she turns, lost and afraid, to the Trail. There is an absorbing narrative in her pre-hike life alone; adding the trials and lessons learned on the PCT, make for a gripping book.
On a whim, Strayed decides to embark on her momentous journey. It becomes apparent early on that she is more than a little unprepared for the undertaking. From the ridiculous size of her pack to her ill-fitting hiking boots, she overcomes one hurdle after another. Bears, snakes, hunger and hitchhiking all figure prominently into her tale. Always hauling a good book with her, I was reminded of my own brief hiking experience on a small section of the Appalachian Trail. Convinced that the added weight of the wine bottle in my pack was not contributing to the unbearable blisters on my feet, I had to constantly remind myself that it would all be worth it in the end.
Eleven hundred miles on the Trail and the saga was never slow or tedious. I’m still a little mystified at the author’s ability to pull this off. The compelling story is trumped only by her spirit and determination. I found myself frequently asking if I could handle such a journey. Thanks to Cheryl Strayed, I could mull this over while reading about the real thing.