SPOILER ALERT!

All done!

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

Well, I finished this up last night. I have to say it was very good. Strayed has a fantastic writing style (so thinks I) and does a wonderful job of taking the reader with her on this pilgrimage. 

 

I use the word pilgrimage deliberately here, rather than journey, adventure, or even quest. This memoir reads like a pilgrimage to reclaim something of her self, to release something of her self (the her selfs, also deliberate) and to crossover into new being.  

 

Now, writing that? I nearly made myself hurl. I'm mean how indulgent, how eyerolly, but there's something almost painfully sincere about Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Strayed does a wonderful "warts and all" job of telling her story and even when you get those few moments, that to me felt a little...I can't think of the word, maybe indulgent? Narcissistic? I, at least, was willing to accept as a fundamentally human trait. I'm not explaining this well. Let's try this, there's a moment near the end of the book where she's speaking with the Young Bucks and they tell her they've figured out her "trail name." [A trail name is the name you're given by other hikers along the trail, more common on the AT, but also carries over to the PCT. So, for example, the Young Bucks is the trail name--it is odd to have one name for several people--for 3 young guys hiking the PCT from Mexico through to Canada.] They tell her that her trail name is

 

Queen of the PCT because as she has hiked all the way up people just go out of their way to help her and give her things and that never happens to them.

(show spoiler)

 

Normally, that right there would cause me to sprain my eyes from rolling them so hard, particularly since throughout the book we've been privy to how little she actually prepared, how little she knows about long distance hiking, how frequently she seems to ignore her common sense and end up in avoidable situations. It could come across as yet another pretty, blonde girl just floating through and trading on her looks rather than her ability. In fact, Strayed even mentions that while in high school she deliberately hid how smart she was because she knew she'd have a better go if thought dumb, pretty and popular. That would usually cause me to throw the book across the room, BUT in this case there is such a sincerity and such a humanness about Strayed here that I understood. 

 

That said, there are moments, whoooo boy, there are moments when I just wanted to shake the girl she was and say "get it together, kid!" I mean, seriously, 

you're by yourself in the literal middle of nowhere and 2 men, hunters, show up with weapons galore and no water. They instantly put you on edge, but you go ahead and let them use (and break) your only water filter, you GIVE them your scarce iodine pills and then, THEN, when you realize you need to get them away you tell them you're hiking on...and then you DON'T?!?! You proceed to CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES and STAY WHERE YOU ARE even though everything about them was threatening, pinged every warning bell in your body!?!?!? And you're surprised when the creepier of the two shows up again??? I'm sorry, but that???ARRRGHHGHHH!! Have SOME sense of self preservation, for GODSAKE!  It's a shame that one of those books she read on the trail wasn't The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence 

(show spoiler)

 

All in all, this was a great memoir and I'd definitely recommend it.