Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This is not another Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson’s funny memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Wild is a raw, moving, and uplifting journey of discovery on the very challenging Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl, 26, newly divorced and still grieving her mother’s death a few years earlier, decides to find herself by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. Cheryl saves up her tips from waitressing, stuffs everything she might need into a backpack nicknamed “The Monster”, laces up her boots, and sets out to hike 1100 miles in 100 days, from the Mojave Desert to the Columbia River Gorge. Cheryl has issues: her love life, divorce from a man she still loves, drugs, grief, and a lack of family ties, but she has plenty of guts and willpower. Cheryl has canoed and camped, but never actually backpacked. Every 100 miles or so, she looks forward to a box of supplies and a little money a friend is mailing to her. Along the way she faces lots of challenges, including bears, rattlesnakes, weather extremes, and detours that require hitchhiking. I had to put this book down for a couple of days and skimmed ahead another time because I was worried about Cheryl. She’s bruised and losing toenails, hitchhiking can be scary, water isn’t always available, money is tight, and Cheryl’s behavior is unpredictable. But she’s also good company, as are the many kind and encouraging folks she meets along the way. Visit Cheryl’s website and watch a video trailer about her journey.