Reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed was certainly an experience. I do not know why I picked up this book…there really was not a specific reason, to be frank. It is an interesting story to be sure, and seems to be continuing my recent trend of reading non-fiction and memoirs.
I think the story itself is quite interesting. I highly doubt I would ever try hiking a trail as long as this one, but reading about the experience certainly is nice. I do not mind camping and such, though the pain from heavy packs would definitely get to me. It has actually, but perhaps mailing boxes ahead of time would make things easier?
Overall, I think it is an accurate account of what this kind of camping and hiking is like. I recognized the use of the water purifier and the tablets from my own travels, as well as some of the food related things. Thus, while I cannot give evidence regarding the toll this amount of hiking would take, I would not be surprised if it were quite accurate, especially considering it is a memoir.
I do think the writing itself is reasonably well-done as well, though I wish the ending was not as rushed as I found it. Strayed could have tied it up better, I think. The only other issue I had with the book is I really did not like how Cheryl acted. I am hesitant here as I know she is a real person, and clearly things would need to be condensed or altered in some fashion for the book (thus leaving out some emotion and whatnot), but I found many of her actions to be quite extreme or annoying. Why give up her entire life, for example, and why abandon her husband? I assume there is more information we do not get, but the book leaves something to be desired on that front. I think including more would have increased my sympathy for her, and lessen my annoyance.
In addition, I feel as if some of the choices she made on the trail were…questionable, though overall I think she did okay. I do wonder though, about the purity, if this is the right word, of her travels on the trail. There are times when she is off the trail for longer than I would think is necessary. One would think if you wanted the purest experience possible, the absolute only times you would walk off is to pick up a package and then walk right back to the trail. I would wonder about purchasing food at certain point—I would think about just packing everything and having resupplies of freeze-dried food in packages along the way, rather than stopping at cafés and things.
Overall, I think if you enjoy the sort of journey to find yourself sort of novels, fiction or otherwise, this one would be a good fit for you. Sure, it is not perfect, but what book is? I did enjoy it as a whole, and feel no reservations in recommending it to you. If you do read it, I would love to know what you think! Do you agree with the points I have made, or do you feel something else? Are you interested in this sort of hiking or camping, even if it is on a smaller scale? Let me know!
Title: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf