Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail


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. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wildpowerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


Wild. It finally came in at the library so I read it this past week on vacation. I've been getting more and more people asking me what my thoughts were on this book since they have either read it or watched the movie recently. My husband and I thru hiked the PCT in 2008 so my friends wanted to know since we had experienced some of what Cheryl did what my thoughts were. I have to say I loved it and hated it at times. At times it was annoying to me, I would lean over and make a comment to my husband about what was happening, and at times I was just like yes! I remember that! I felt that same way too! Overall it just made me wish I was out hiking the trail again this year. I think that might be partly why I haven't read any books from others who have hiked the PCT.  It makes me miss it too much. It was the most amazing experience of my life and if I could I would repeat it every year. Well maybe I would hike the CDT and AT first, but definitely the PCT again and again.

So maybe I will start with the things I disliked? Well for one Cheryl seemed like someone I would really not get along with pre-hike. The whole back story, her before the hike stuff, there was too much of it for me. It did get to be a bit tedious to read again and again and again how her mother died 4 years ago and was never coming back. I get that it was a huge, massive, terrible event in her life. With that one thing she pretty much lost her family, and I got that. But the repetitive going on and on about it, how she has not dealt with it and has been self destructing, knowing she is doing this herself, yet somehow seeming to want others to feel for her, I just got tired of it after a while. She says it herself best:

"I had been an arrogant asshole and, in the midst of that, my mother died."

Yes, that is kind of how I saw her, and there was a bit too much of the backstory for me. Not someone I would want to be friends with based on what she has written about herself. And when it would start to go back into her backstory I found myself wishing she would just get back to telling me about her hike. That is really what I cared about as her pre-hike self seemed like she needed help, but wouldn't get it (or didn't think it would actually help).

There was also how she didn't really know what she was doing, didn't know simple wilderness skills, didn't think to look at weather conditions and such, just didn't seem to think a lot about a lot of things before starting the trail. When I would read something that is not good, something I really feel you shouldn't do when taking on a wilderness situation, I would get annoyed and tell my husband all about it. To me the book seemed to make it seem like it wasn't as big a deal as I feel it should be. It made me think that other people could think well Cheryl did this and nothing bad happened to her so I don't have to worry about that either. Not good. Like not knowing how to use a compass. At all. Not knowing how to find your place on a map. Not being able to locate where you are. That is basic stuff you should know before heading out into the wilderness. Maps are useless if you cannot use them. We carried a GPS, but I also know how to triangulate my position so we would know where we were if we somehow got lost, the GPS stopped working, and we needed to get back on track. She says throughout the book how at various times she was a big fat idiot and I agreed every time. But it was said in a lighthearted way and most of the time I just thought man, you are incredibly lucky you did not get seriously injured or kill yourself out there. It is not always that easy to find civilization along the trail. In the high Sierras some of those places are really remote. Like 19 miles hike out to get to a parking lot kind of remote. If it would have been a normal snow year and she would have been able to go through there this might be a very different book. Admittedly I think that is the most physically demanding section, and also the most remote. Even after being on the trail a while, being broken in, it was still so physically exhausting. She was really lucky in a lot of ways and in a lot of situations. I just hope people who read this story take from it to not do what she did and be a big fat idiot again and again. Learn from her mistakes and don't put your life in danger unnecessarily. You might not have the same positive results. That is not to say you need a lot of experience,just use your head and gain some knowledge. Neither my husband nor I had ever been backpacking before our hike, but we tried to make sure we had everything we needed and were knowledgeable enough to be safe. Sure sometimes things happen that are out of your control, but to not be prepared, to not know how to find where you are especially in the desert...that can get you killed. I just kept saying well at least she carried a lot of water with her. She wasn't an idiot about that when she started out thank goodness.

Now what did I enjoy? Everything else. When she wasn't making stupid mistakes I really enjoyed her story of her hike. As I said above I didn't care for the before hike stuff, but her story of her trip on the PCT? It was great. There were so many moments where I was just like oh I remember that! I remember thinking about all the amazing, super cold places I could go, all the cold things, just thinking about ice, while hiking in the desert heat. I remember Hat Creek Rim and how terribly hot it was and having to carry so much water once again. I remember the generosity of people we met along the trail. How people would pay for our meals, or cook us food, or give us rides, or let us stay with them, or anything that was just amazingly generous of them. The guys she hiked with said that they didn't get any of that, but in 2008 we had such an amazing adventure. We had such generosity from strangers it was unbelievable. When she was hungry at the beginning in the camp by Kennedy Meadows and Ed made her food without even asking I was just like yep, that is how it is on the trail. All the little things just made me wish I were out there again. How you get songs stuck in your head and then you can't get them out. How you think of all the things you will eat or drink once you get to town.  Just all the little things made me smile and remember my own hike.

It was also interesting to read Cheryl's thoughts on her hike. I would say she is very different from me and my hiking ways which I enjoyed. She brought deodorant along with her to start, something I didn't even consider. She seemed to like clean clothes and showers and such while I was find staying dirty and not caring. I wore the same shirt and pants for over 5 months while she had new shirts in some of her supply boxes. She is just very different from me in a lot of ways so it was interesting to read her story. She never really seemed to love hiking all day every day like I did. Even once she got used to it she said she would be enjoying it, but then every day there would come a point where she no longer loved it. She said at one point how she got bored of the trail and walking by the end of the day. It was interesting to read since that is so different from my thoughts and feelings while hiking this. Yes, there were bad days, days where I hated it and just wanted it to be over, but mostly I loved every minute of it. Yes I was exhausted and drained by the end of the day, especially in the beginning, but that is what was awesome about it. I loved being able to wake up every day and the only thing I have to do is walk. So I enjoyed getting her perspective in everything since it was so different from mine. It was fun comparing what her hike and mine were like over a decade apart. It ended and I just had to pull out my photos and reminisce a bit about my own hike. So there were parts I loved and parts I hated, but overall an alright book.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

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