Wednesday, October 24, 2012

wild From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail

 wild by Cheryl Strayed has been a wildly popular book (pun intended) that I have been waiting all year (or so it seems) to come out in paperback.  It hasn't yet, but I just could no longer wait, so I bought the hardcover copy last Friday.  I began reading it Saturday night in bed and finished it yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.  With tears in my eyes.  For quite awhile.  Apparently, I ended up feeling like I knew Cheryl well!  It's a beautiful and very powerful story that I just could not put down.

The book is a memoir of Ms. Strayed's three month journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  Alone.  Never having hiked or backpacked before.  I can't even imagine the courage summoned up for even considering such a trip, let alone actually doing it.  But it seemed, that at that time in her life, Ms. Strayed really didn't feel like she had anything to lose.  And was hoping that she might find purpose or meaning to her life.

Ms. Strayed's mother died of lung cancer when Ms. Strayed was twenty-two.  She was the oldest of her mother's children and was the one there to care for her mother through her illness.  How does a twenty-two year old female get through her mother's death?  It raised all kinds of thoughts and feelings for me, after just losing my mom a few months ago, also from lung cancer...but I had an extra forty years to know my mom before she died.  Clearly, a twenty-two year old would be so lost...

Anyway, shortly after her mother's death, her siblings went their own ways and Ms. Strayed married.  Four years later, her marriage was unraveling and so was she.  She began living a life that she soon realized she didn't want.  And one day, she came upon a guide book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and something in her grabbed at the idea...the idea of doing it by herself and picking up the pieces of her life along the trail.

Ms. Strayed began the eleven hundred mile hike in the summer of 1995.  She began with hiking boots that very soon proved to be too small and a backpack that she was unable to lift off the ground because it was so heavy.  The backpack took on the name of "Monster".  She was fearful of running into bears and rattlesnakes, and had to face those fears.  She could only hike seven to nine miles a day when she first started.  (I say "only", because she ended up being able to hike right along with the best of them..."only" is a relative term...I could have maybe hiked one mile each day with her conditions!)

Over the months, Ms. Strayed came across other hikers and they would share whatever they could with each other.  One helped her sort out what she was caring in "Monster" and lightened her load considerably.  She suffered all kinds of hardships as you can imagine, from hunger and lack of clean clothes, showers, etc. to physical injuries to terrible weather conditions.  And then at some point, she realized that she could do it.  And she did. And that changed everything for her.  She learned that she was a survivor and that she could take care of herself.

wild is a beautiful book.

1 comment:

Jennifer Hartling said...

I thought this was a beautiful read as well. Wasn't she brave?? Oh my word, I don't think I'd even attempt something like that.