Are you ready for another book suggestion? My friend Barb gave me this book for my birthday (there's no better gift than a good book, is there? unless of course it's a book accompanied by chocolate... wink) Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed was an amazing read.... It is the story of the author's actual trek of over a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. What was most incredible was that she made this decision on impulse - with no training or hiking experience at all, following her mother's death, the breakdown of her family and marriage, and some dabbling in serious drugs, she just decided to do the trail. Alone!
This international bestselling book is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, an Oprah's Book Club 2.0 pick, a Heather's Pick at Chapters, and called the "Best Book of the Year" by NPR, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly and Vogue. If that's not enough for you, I heartily recommend it too! There is much praise from various publications on the first pages of the book. Here are several quotes:
" 'Brave' seems like the right word to sum up this woman and her book. ...Strayed's journey is exceptional." ~ San Francisco Chronicle
"Vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling and of the journey that put it back together." ~ The Wall Street Journal
"Strayed's journey was at least as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace and found extraordinary companionship." ~ The Christian Science Monitor
Strayed's account of her 1100+ mile trek is brutally honest and gritty. In her mid-20's, she is attempting to leave behind a string of personal disasters, tragedies and poor life decisions for a "life adventure" of personal confrontation to "find herself". What she lacks in common sense and preparedness, she makes up for in courage and determination. She makes many mistakes - not to mention NO training, no hiking experience, and no "back country" experience, her two biggest mistakes are wearing hiking boots of the wrong size and carrying a very overweight pack. Her body pays the price. "Blisters" is putting it mildly... From scorching desert temperatures to the snow of the High Sierra's, from hunger, thirst and exhaustion to bears and rattlesnakes, you will have a hard time tearing yourself away from Cheryl's raw honesty in the telling of her story... "Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened and ultimately healed her." - from the book jacket.
At times I wished I could grab her and shake her and scream "WHAT were you thinking?" (No doubt she thought that many times herself...) The day after I graduated from University, I took off for 3 months of backpacking around Europe. I too was inexperienced with backpacking and hiking, but I at least had boots that fit and I had broken them in, somewhat... and the weight of our packs was as low as we could possibly get it. We traveled with absolutely the barest of essentials and very few clothes. I can still remember my older brother teasing me that I'd never survive without my hair dryer and makeup. (I proved him wrong.) So although we were not hiking alone through wilderness, I could identify somewhat with Cheryl's journey. It's a page turner. She "had me" at the first paragraph of the Prologue when a "mishap" on the trail, thirty eight days in, threatens to end her journey and perhaps even her survival... Read it, you won't be sorry. You don't have to be a hiker or even an outdoor enthusiast to enjoy this book. 5 out of 5 stars from this reader.
"Never, never, never give up." ~ Winston Churchill