A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State--and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise." But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
Showing 1-4 of the 4 most recent reviews
1 . Rattlesnakes
Posted July 08, 2013 by Amelia , Los AngelesRattlesnakes and black bears with feet like hamburger meat in boots too tight. Not that she could have run with a pack that weighed as much as herself. The stuff in her pack made me laugh. This was an amusing read.
2 . Wild
Posted July 07, 2013 by Josh , BrisbaneI love books like this where someone else does all the incredibly stupid stuff and tells us about it honestly. It makes me feel like that is one less stupid thing I need to do.
3 . I spent money on this book?
Posted January 28, 2013 by DD Jones , RaleighThe book was more a long rant about the life of a young woman who had loose morals and enjoyed heroin and opiates. The book flips to different time periods and is difficult to follow. In general what hurt was knowing my money spent on this book could be used on drugs. The book glamorizes drugs and one night stands and should not be in the hands of an impressionable person. The title leads one to believe they will understand backpacking, it does not. I wish I had not spent the money.
4 . couldn't put it down
Posted May 02, 2012 by Mike Salmon , LortonI loved the book, the sheer adventure of striking out in the wild with nothing but survival gear on your back. Cheryl Strayed was brave enough to want to do it, so she left all behind for the unknown. The struggles, the friendships, and the desire for adventure - born out of Steinbeck's The Travels with Charlie. Makes me want to go rent a camper and take a week or two to see what's out there.
March 19, 2012
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Excerpt from Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The trees were tall, but I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California. Moments before, I'd removed my hiking boots and the left one had fallen into those trees, first cata- pulting into the air when my enormous backpack toppled onto it, then skittering across the gravelly trail and flying over the edge. It bounced off of a rocky outcropping several feet beneath me before disappearing into the forest canopy below, impossible to retrieve. I let out a stunned gasp, though I'd been in the wilderness thirty-eight days and by then I'd come to know that anything could happen and that everything would. But that doesn't mean I wasn't shocked when it did.
My boot was gone. Actually gone.
I clutched its mate to my chest like a baby, though of course it was futile. What is one boot without the other boot? It is nothing. It is use- less, an orphan forevermore, and I could take no mercy on it. It was a big lug of a thing, of genuine heft, a brown leather Raichle boot with a red lace and silver metal fasts. I lifted it high and threw it with all my might and watched it fall into the lush trees and out of my life.
I was alone. I was barefoot. I was twenty-six years old and an orphan too. An actual stray, a stranger had observed a couple of weeks before, when I'd told him my name and explained how very loose I was in the world. My father left my life when I was six. My mother died when I was twenty-two. In the wake of her death, my stepfather morphed from the person I considered my dad into a man I only occasionally recognized. My two siblings scattered in their grief, in spite of my efforts to hold us together, until I gave up and scattered as well.
In the years before I pitched my boot over the edge of that moun- tain, I'd been pitching myself over the edge too. I'd ranged and roamed and railed--from Minnesota to New York to Oregon and all across the West--until at last I found myself, bootless, in the summer of 1995, not so much loose in the world as bound to it.
It was a world I'd never been to and yet had known was there all along, one I'd staggered to in sorrow and confusion and fear and hope. A world I thought would both make me into the woman I knew I could become and turn me back into the girl I'd once been. A world that mea- sured two feet wide and 2,663 miles long.
A world called the Pacific Crest Trail.
I'd first heard of it only seven months before, when I was living in Minneapolis, sad and desperate and on the brink of divorcing a man I still loved. I'd been standing in line at an outdoor store waiting to purchase a foldable shovel when I picked up a book called The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume 1: California from a nearby shelf and read the back cover. The PCT, it said, was a continuous wilderness trail that went from the Mexican border in California to just beyond the Canadian border along the crest of nine mountain ranges--the Laguna, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Liebre, Tehachapi, Sierra Nevada, Klamath, and Cascades. That distance was a thousand miles as the crow flies, but the trail was more than double that. Traversing the entire length of the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, the PCT passes through national parks and wilderness areas as well as federal, tribal, and privately held lands; through deserts and mountains and rain forests; across rivers and highways. I turned the book over and gazed at its front cover-- a boulder-strewn lake surrounded by rocky crags against a blue sky-- then placed it back on the shelf, paid for my shovel, and left.
But later I returned and bought the book. The Pacific Crest Trail wasn't a world to me then. It was an idea, vague and outlandish, full of promise and mystery. Something bloomed inside me as I traced its jag- ged line with my finger on a map.
I would walk that line, I decided--or at least as much of it as I could in about a hundred days. I was living alone in a studio apartment in
Minneapolis, separated from my husband, and working as a waitress, as low and mixed-up as I'd ever been in my life. Each day I felt as if I were looking up from the bottom of a deep well. But from that well, I set about becoming a solo wilderness trekker. And why not? I'd been so many things already. A loving wife and an adulteress. A beloved daughter who now spent holidays alone. An ambitious overachiever and aspir- ing writer who hopped from one meaningless job to the next while dabbling dangerously with drugs and sleeping with too many men. I was the granddaughter of a Pennsylvania coal miner, the daughter of a steelworker turned salesman. After my parents split up, I lived with my mother, brother, and sister in apartment complexes populated by single mothers and their kids. As a teen, I lived back-to-the-land style in the Minnesota northwoods in a house that didn't have an indoor toilet, electricity, or running water. In spite of this, I'd become a high school cheerleader and homecoming queen, and then I went off to college and became a left-wing feminist campus radical.