In Wild, Cheryl Strayed recounts her solo 1995 1,100 mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert in California to the Washington border. The story is made more entertaining by the fact that before this trip Strayed had never backpacked before. Anyone who has ever camped, or taken on a physical challenge that is beyond their capabilities is going to be amused and inspired by this story. Wild calls to the human, traveler, and adventurer in all of us.
Bereft since the death of her mother Strayed hits the trail at 27, out of shape, and an emotional mess. She’s dropped out of school, recently divorced her husband, been dabbling with heroin, and seems lost. She sees a guidebook on the Pacific Crest Trail and is taken by the idea that though she has never heard of the trail it may save her. She begins working extra shifts to save money for the trip (her gear shopping and “preparation” stories are hilarious) and within a year she is ready to hit the trail.
Day 1 comes and Cheryl discovers that her backpack is so heavy that the only way she can pick it up is to crawl on the floor put her arms through the straps, fall forward to her knees, and then struggle to stand. Strayed is nothing if not determined and this is the first of many signs that adversity won’t stand in her way. Time after time she rises from an emotional or physical crisis by noticing the beauty around her. She communes with her past, her mom, family, ex-husband, and with who she is now and who she was before her mother’s death. It’s an incredibly painful process and Strayed’s resilience and humor is the stuff of legends. You’ll find it impossible not to cheer her on and moan with each new obstacle.