Monday, April 1, 2013

BOOK: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, 316 pages

review copy from Random House of Canada

Cheryl Strayed wrote this memoir of her time hiking the Pacific Crest Tail in the 1990s. She decided to walk the 1000 mile trail after her mother had died (quickly) of cancer when Cheryl was just twenty-one. In the few years after the death, her marriage broke up, and her step-father and siblings grew apart; the trail was a chance to rely on herself, and come to terms with her behaviour and grief.

She kind of planned for the hike, but not in a way that was terribly useful. Her family had been outdoorsy, but nothing that approached her adventure. The community that she ran into on the trail was nearly all friendly and congenial and her biggest fears were the wildlife. A trip today without a cell phone is almost unimaginable.

The book reads very easily, and could almost cause a reader to think a hike would be a fun idea. Almost, except for her feet which were raw and blistered the whole trip, the weight of carrying a pack, and dealing with unplanned detours. Strayed connects her past life and mistakes with how she came to terms with her present life, and is pretty upfront about herself and her decisions. It would be a great read for someone who liked adventures, self-growth, and seeing how far a person can push themselves when under duress. She was an person heading on a downward spiral, so there is sex and drug talk, but I enjoyed getting to know her.

Next to try: Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods which chronicles the east coast version of walking the Appalachian trail.