Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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

Cheryl Strayed's life was turned upside down with the death of her mother at a young age.  Her mother was the glue that held her family together and without her, Cheryl's family fell apart and scattered.  Cheryl was 22 and devastated.  Cheryl eventually destroyed her marriage by being reckless and conflicting hurt because she was hurting.  Four years after her mother's death she was alone, dejected, reckless and searching for a way to repair her broken life.

One day at an REI store in Minneapolis, Cheryl saw a book titled The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume 1: California.  On impulse she bought the book and made the life changing decision to backpack and hike the Pacific Crest Trail from California through Oregon.  This was a brave decision considering she had never backpacked a long distance before and she planned to do it alone.  She needed to change herself at the deepest level of her core and Cheryl knew this experience would help her piece her life back together.

Wild is a memoir that spoke to me on a deep level.  As a backpacker and hiker myself I related to the trials and tribulations of the trail.  Sore and blistered feet, a pack to heavy to carry, full of the things you think you will need.  Dry packaged food and the search for the water, the fear of bears, silence and wondering if your following the right trail.  The beauty of the wilderness, the extreme temperatures, reading in your tent and the satisfaction of conquering the trail against the physical odds.  Strayed captures it all in the pages of Wild.

Strayed takes readers on a tour of her life as she bares her soul.  Wild brought me to tears twice and had me laughing out loud.  Cheryl is a brave woman as she conquers the little traveled Pacific Crest Trail and the mountains and valleys of her life.  The trail is a metaphor for life and I think that is why I love backpacking so much and Strayed's book, Wild.  Everything you do, you need to take it one step at a time.

I was able to meet Cheryl Strayed yesterday at the Twin Cities Book Festival.  We talked about the challenges of backpacking and hiking at an older age.  Thanks goodness we can travel through the experience of reading books.

Travel with Cheryl on the trail and experience adventure, joy, laughter, fear, sadness, peace and life on the Wild side.