Wild tells the story of a lone woman’s trek along the Pacficic Crest Trail, commonly referred to as the PCT. This is a hiking trail that goes from Mexico to Canada along a range of mountains and deserts and forests. A world that measured two feet wide and 2,663 miles long, as Cheryl Strayed so eloquently puts it.
I’m not a hiker, but I have enjoyed the books about the PCT that have found their way into my hands. Wild is more than a book about hiking, it’s also about Cheryl’s life, the death of her mother, and the hazards of not wearing the correct shoes for a thousand mile stroll. It’s funny, sad, and thought provoking. The writing was very good and I was surprised by the occasional odd word, such as antediluvian, a word that leaps from the page amid Cheryl’s usually very plain and straightforward text.
The bulk of the story takes place as she hikes the PCT and remembers bits and pieces of her past and gazes longingly toward her future. She spends a lot of time alone and the handful of people she meets on the trail take on great importance for their rarity. She notices all kinds of things that she might not have seen before. She sleeps in a tent, eats dried foods, and has occasional trips to the real world, where she longs for Snapples Lemonade.
Although I’ve never been hiking, I do spend a lot of time traveling, so I can relate to Cheryl’s feeling of being out of the world. I like the idea of the PCT as Cheryl tells it. Days without seeing another person, hours spend with a simple goal of reaching a certain spot in a certain amount of time. Of course, the idea of dying of thirst in the desert is a bit less appealing. And she does have a lot of problems with her boots. Then there is her one constant companion, her oversized and overloaded backpack. In the beginning she can barely walk with the massive load on her back. Add to all this the fact that she didn’t train or properly prepare for the hike and you have the makings of an interesting trip.
I enjoyed Wild. Like The Cactus Eaters, another PCT book I read not too long ago, she spent a good deal more time talking about the start of her trek and just kind of skimmed over the last few weeks. The story of her life and her hike was brilliant.