wild cheryl strayed book review

Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

By Heather

From my office, I can see the San Gabriel mountains. They feel like old friends. I want to visit them again. I miss being in there, covered by trees, hiding from the world.

It’s going to be a while before I can go back.

I’m in bed right now, recuperating from surgery. It will be a month before I can really exercise again. Next week, I’ll be able to do some light exercising – walking, elliptical sans arms, cycling.

No hiking. *sob*

I miss my mountain friends. I miss those early-morning hikes, the solitude, the element of danger, the being in the moment that comes easily when hiking. Life and its pressures melt away and on the trail, everything is distilled down to what you need, to the very essentials. Everything about what you thought you could do is blown to pieces. You’d be surprised at what you can do.

I can’t get lost in thought. I need to watch my steps. I need to look around and appreciate the beauty. I need to be alert and present in case of dangerous wildlife. There’s not much room for thoughts that take you elsewhere, away from these mountains.

Wild is the story of a woman who hiked about 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail after her mom died and her marriage fell apart.

From the start, her journey is distilled into two simple objectives: To survive and to heal her shattered heart. She hikes through desert climates, high Sierra snow packs, takes a few detours to avoid the snow, meets mostly kind strangers, some unsettling ones, and a few jerks.

She comes to places expecting water where there is none. At one point, one of the packages she sent for herself at a stopping point was missing the $20 she thought she had put in there. Cheryl needed the money, too – she had 60 cents to her name by that point.

When you’re forced to be resourceful, to find ways to survive and get by, how can you simultaneously be lost in thought about the past and your future? There’s something so primal about that, getting in touch with the instinct to survive. Worldly problems don’t matter or exist. There is nothing else on the trail but to enjoy the beauty and survive the journey. Walking meditation.

By her own admission, Cheryl makes a lot of mistakes leading up to and during the hike. She didn’t watch the weight of her backpack. By the time she attempted to put it on, its 70 lbs wouldn’t even budge. She didn’t know how to use a compass when she started the hike, but learned along the way. She bought brand-new hiking boots and didn’t break them in.

But despite the pain her mistakes cause her, she never gives up. She wants to sometimes, but doesn’t, no matter how bleak it seems. She gets resourceful.

If you’re new to hiking, I really highly recommend Wild because it’s a great example of what not to do. Experienced long-distance hikers should enjoy this book, especially if they’re considering making this trek themselves. Apparently, you’re in for a lot should you attempt it.

The movie is getting great reviews, too, so I plan to check that out ASAP!