Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild is a fantastically written and moving memoir by Cheryl Strayed who shares her experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT stretches from Mexico to Canada on the United States’ West Coast. After losing her mother to cancer, Cheryl’s life fell apart over the next four years; she divorced, lost jobs, got involved with heroin, etc. Knowing her mother would be unhappy with who she had become, Cheryl decided to make a drastic life change and mapped out a plan to spend the next three months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, picking up at the Mojave Desert and ending at the Bridge of the Gods in Portland, Oregon. With no experience and no training, Cheryl strapped on her huge pack (lovingly nicknamed “Monster”) and hiked alone battling both the physical elements and her emotions.

The terrain was more than a challenge; the weather went from oppressive heat to snow drifts. Whether climbing mountainous trails or sandy paths, Cheryl always searched for the PCT signs to keep on track. When I visited Portland in 2017 I found a PCT sign at Mt. Hood and felt a kinship with Cheryl, knowing that maybe this same sign helped her know she was still moving in the right direction.

Cheryl meets a few other hikers along the way, learning about the kindness of strangers and how PCT hikers created a “family” among themselves. By the time Cheryl reaches the end of her journey her outlook has renewed and for the first time in years she feels strong, strong enough to battle whatever lies ahead.

This book stayed with me long after I finished as one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. It was if Cheryl’s struggles were my own and as she gained strength I did too. I strongly suggest this book for a book club, beach book or anytime you are in the mood for a great read. It’s in my Top 5 of all time.

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