A Wild Journey

wildWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Strayed) – I give this book five stars, not because I agree with all the decisions that the author made, but because she wrote with a lot of raw, honest feeling, from a place of deep pain, and she surmounted her pain and forged a way for herself, showing tremendous strength and bravery.  There is much to be admired, so I won’t delve into any tangential criticisms.

Strayed’s account of life on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)—a continuous trail stretching from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon and Washington—out in the wilderness with so many dangers and so little protection, was riveting.  Her journey was long and tumultuous, in both the physical and emotional sense.  Her hiking boots were too small, her load too heavy for her, and there were a host of other physical hurdles for Strayed to surmount.  It was also emotional as she had a lot of family baggage to overcome and personal redemption to fight for.

You would think, after a while, with so many miles to cover, her journey would become too repetitive or too lengthy to read with interest.  But that was not the case.  Each segment of Strayed’s trek on the PCT was highly interesting to me.

I enjoyed Strayed’s writing about the things that mattered and the pain and the struggles.  I appreciated her honesty.  Her writing is very vivid and true.  Some parts of this book made me sad and angry and some parts made me laugh and feel triumphant.  When she fantasized about a cold, crisp Snapple Lemonade, I wanted one too. When she described the nights in her tent, alone except for the wild animal noises, I shivered just a little.  When she hiked for days with only two cents in her pocket, and wondering if she had enough water to make it, I worried for her and rooted for her.  When she wrote about her mom dying, I felt like I was a silent observer, in the moment with her.  When she wrote about feeling vulnerable on the trail, as a woman, I felt scared for her and a little vulnerable too.

I highly recommend this book.  I can’t wait to see the movie soon, although when a book is really good I worry that the movie will disappoint.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail has never strongly appealed to me, but after reading about the PCT, maybe especially because I’m a native Californian and understand it’s rugged beauty, I would love the chance to hike the PCT someday.  But definitely not alone!  And definitely with more pocket change to buy those coveted Snapple Lemonades!

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2 thoughts on “A Wild Journey

  1. One of the hesitations I have about this book is the one you have noted about certain (highly avoidable) mistakes. I have friends who have taken the 6 months to hike the PCT, and, while it is possible to survive it the way the author did, you can get yourself hurt or dead really fast. I would hope that those contemplating it take the lesson that one shouldn’t just attempt this cold, and without getting proper advice, fitting, and so on.

    I’m not sure I will ever have the time to do the whole thing, but I am hoping to stay in shape enough to do the John Muir Trail (Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney – 240ish miles) some day.

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