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

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, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


I found this to be a remarkable narrative. I had never heard of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and I am not an outdoorsy girl. I enjoy nature and the occasional hike or bike ride, but I am not the type of girl who likes camping outside with no access to a shower and indoor plumbing. I much prefer "glamping," or glamorous or luxurious camping. Picture something along the lines of a giant RV with an indoor shower, satellite TV, running water, refrigerator, stove, fireplace (optional), and fold-out Queen sized air mattress and you have a inkling into what I define as my version of "camping."

The idea that anyone, let alone a female on her own, would set out into the wilderness carrying all their supplies on their back and walk for miles and miles across unforgiving terrain and be at the mercy of the elements just seems insane to me. No thanks! But I can see why it was appealing to Cheryl at a time when her whole life seemed to be unraveling around her. I admire her courage in undertaking such an endeavor. I felt sympathy for her plight - losing her mother, estrangement from her stepfather and siblings, her divorce. I didn't necessarily agree with how she went about dealing (or not dealing) with her grief. I think in many ways, she was the cause of her own suffering. Nevertheless, I can see how undertaking a solo journey in the wilderness could help one find their way back to themselves. A journey such as the one Cheryl takes strips you of all pretenses. There is nothing and no one to hide behind or distract you from yourself. You have no choice but to face yourself head-on as you push yourself to your limits.

The narrative was humorous and exciting, and I enjoyed hearing about all the people Cheryl met along the way. Cheryl is not a perfect person, as none of us are, and there were certainly decisions she made that I would not make. However, I found myself forgiving her for her folly and recognizing the humanity in her story. Which of us is perfect? Which of us doesn't make mistakes? Who among us is brave enough to face our demons, our imperfections, head on? Who among us hasn't lost their way? Which of us hasn't made excuses for our actions?

I don't know if I can say I felt inspired by Cheryl's story. I will probably never feel an urge to backpack by myself through the wilderness, but I did enjoy her story, one human being to another. 

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