Cheryl Strayed’s (Torch, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar) memoir Wild recalls a three month adventure she tackled seventeen years ago on the Pacific Coast Trail hiking from the Mohave Desert through California, Oregon to Washington. While Strayed encounters challenges, mishaps and disconcerting moments on the trail the real adventure is found in her emotional revelations along the way and the slow discovery of her previously lost self.
Strayed became inspired to take the journey after reading the back cover of a book while waiting in line at an outdoors store. The author takes-on the trip as a personal pilgrimage and as a far-reaching goal when she is at a desperately low point in her life. Grieving the death of her mother, having split from her husband and using recreational drugs, she plans to hike her way through her confusion. However, her homework of the rigors of the PCT is poor and she is as physically unprepared for the hike as she is emotionally bewildered.
Not long into the trek she learns the highs and lows of serious hiking and is witness the frailties and strengths of her own body. Strayed walks with persistent hunger, bloody feet, an aching back (from too heavy a backpack) and fits of extreme loneliness. But slowly her blurred existence starts coming into focus as she begins appreciating the beauty of the trail and the pieces of her shattered life.
This is a sometimes dark, and often raw memoir that is uplifting in a soul-searching (and not saccharine) sort of way. It’s a rewarding read for any lost adventurer who wants to find their way home again. This is a memoir about the inner and outer challenges of life’s journey – and it makes for a gripping adventure.