Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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I loved this book. I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to know more after it ended. I wanted to know where she went next, how she transitioned back into real life in Portland and what lasting impact it had on her. (I know there are lots of interviews she has done since she completed the trail, and I have yet to see the movie starring Reese Witherspoon because I wanted to wait until I was finished with the book.) But those were my initial thoughts after I finished reading it.

As a woman one of my main concerns would be safety on the trail especially being by herself. So I was really interested to see how she dealt with that and how she told herself she wasn’t scared.

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I really enjoyed hearing about the camaraderie she felt among the fellow hikers she met on the trail. She said they motivated her and lifted her spirits when she was feeling down or exhausted. It also must have felt nice to commiserate about the trials and tribulations of the hike.  For a while she was the only woman on the trail but later met other women. I felt a real sense of women empowerment and thinking how strong and courageous she and the other women were hiking this trail and taking on such a huge undertaking.

It made me really happy to see the kindness of strangers while she was on and off the trail. People gave her rides when she hitchhiked, offer to feed her and let her shower at their houses, and a free place to stay behind stores. It made me believe in the goodness of people. I, myself, would be quite nervous to trust people but it’s nice to see there were still good people while she was out there. (She hiked the trail in 1994 at the age of 26.) But there is one incident she talks about in the book that would have made me really nervous.
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Being on the trail she was able to work through issues that she had been carrying around with her for years. Before she started the trail she had lost her mother to cancer at 45 years old, her family fell apart in the wake of her mother’s death, and her marriage ended. In the long hours and days she traversed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) she had a lot of time to think about all those lingering issues and learned to make peace with them.

It shows real dedication and character that she hiked the 1,100 plus miles in the summer, mostly alone, when the easy thing to do would have been to quit and go back to her old life.  

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One of my favorite things about her journey was that she was not an expert hiker to begin with. She had only done short hikes before. Not that this is something I would want to do, but it at least gives me and other hikers hope that they could do it. They just have to have to will power and desire to do it. I’m also super impressed that she and other hikers took on the PCT 20 years ago when hiking wasn’t yet that popular. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about reading it.

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5 thoughts on “Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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