Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
Published by Atlantic Books
1st January 2015
At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise - a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet...
Having previously read, and enjoyed Torch by Cheryl Strayed, I instantly set about getting my hands on her other two books, Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things. If you don't already know, Wild has just been released as a film staring Reece Witherspoon and everyone who is in the know says you must read the book first. Not a dilemma for me as by the time I get to see it (and I do want to watch it), it will be out on dvd or on the tv and no longer in the cinema!
Four years on from the death of her mother (which Torch touches upon), Cheryl's life turns upside down. Her stepfather finds a new love, her brother and sister take different paths with their own lives, and her marriage to Paul begins to break down, with Cheryl having numerous affairs. She needs to find her way in life but she has no idea how to do it.
A chance finding of a map about the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) ignites a tiny flame inside Cheryl that seems reluctant to be put out. The idea grows until suddenly it is a fully envisaged plan - she will walk the PCT on her own, from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. Having never walked before this is a humungous task and not one to be undertaken lightly. What on earth do you need to be out in the wilderness for months at a time, and most importantly, can she even achieve it?
With a route mapped out, and boxes waiting for her at various stages along the way, Cheryl and her backpack Monster begin the journey. Within hours she has blisters and feels she cannot go any further - but this is only day one. There are over 1000 miles left to conquer.
I was thoroughly rooting for Cheryl all the way through Wild. Its a brutally honest book and some parts of it made me wince inside. As she steps out into the wilderness, we too hear the silence of being the only person around, the rattle of the snakes warning us that they are in our way, and the sound of running water when our only supply has dried up. This is also a book about camaraderie with the fellow walkers that Cheryl meets on the trail time and time again. Of counting the dimes and cents for food and Snapple lemonade when you know that what is in your pocket is all you have until your next parcel collection, and of reading and burning pages of books along the way until you finally reach your final destination.
I'm an indoorsy person but reading Wild made me want to go outside and live a little more. I don't have the strength to do what she did, but boy I admire her so much for doing it.