Wild is adventurous and extreme and strong

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Okay, what would you do if you were hiking alone for 1,100 miles through 3 states and your boot flies off the side of the mountain – one half of your only set of hiking boots?  The first thing that comes to my mind is scream or cry, not what Cheryl Strayed did:  chuck the other one over the edge as well.

This is how the autobiographical adventure book called Wild begins and, with it, the reader gets a sense of who this person is:  Brave, impulsive, driven, damaged.

She begins this walk to basically get her act together due to the death of her mother and her recent lifestyle choices.  The idea to walk the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) begins as a whim while leafing through a book about the trail while waiting on line in a store.  The fact that she has chosen to seriously entertain the thought of a solo hike through California, Oregon and to Washington state stuns me.

When I recently took a hike at Bear Mountain (which was not even climbing up the mountain), I wanted to turn back several times.  I was scared that we weren’t going to find our way out before nightfall.  I started thinking that since dusk was setting in, animals may be tracking us and my imagination was starting to get out of control.  To do even a one-night hike with a partner would scare the shit out of me.  How did Cheryl Strayed do it alone for 3 months?

Granted, she was not totally alone the entire time – she did cross paths with fellow hikers.  However, the onus of the trip was on her.  I can’t help but think:  Did the physical pain of the hike help get rid of her mental anguish and grief?  Does physical exercise help the brain resolve problems?  What spurs people on to do great things, to accomplish physical feats that others can’t?  I’m not talking about Olympian or pro athletes, but those among us without serious training like Cheryl.  How do you get past the pain and fear to find the strength to persevere?

Wild by Cheryl Strayed is entertaining, informative, raw.  You should read it.

February 19, 2013

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