wildWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
2012 / 336 pages
read by Bernadette Dunne/13h 6m
rating – 7.5

I doubt I would ever have read this if it hadn’t been chosen as a reading group selection.   I found it to be an adequately well written memoir of a 1885 her trip on the Pacific Crest Trail was an interesting trip.   The author’s personal life story was too boring for words and was not redeemed by the mediocre narrative.  When she tried to wax lyrical about her surroundings it ended up a wee bit forced and purple.

Let me say here that Dunne’s reading was superb.  There are photos at Strayed’s website:

Basically,  mom dies and  young woman goes nuts with men and drugs and then divorces dear hubby.  On a whim, back in 1995,  this Minnesota girl decides to hike a huge chunk of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).   She starts out in the Mojave Desert of California planning to end up in  Bridge of the Gods in Washington state.


I was not pre-disposed to believe this tale but I’ve hunted around online and seen no criticism about this aspect.  So I took it as a normal memoir – she’s not revealing everything,  exaggerating other things and overall the story is basically as true as you’re likely to get from a memoir these days.

Imo,  Cheryl Strayed was an incredibly stupid and probably emotionally disturbed young woman. There are more problems than just “getting over mom and hubby.”   She’s way too promiscuous for my tastes and she’s still looking for Daddy as well as Mommy.  I think she must have had a death Unknownwish to do what she did.  There was no real preparation for a SOLO (!) 2,000 mile mountain hike – she bought her equipment and supplies over a period of time and put it together the night before her start.  Way too heavy for her but … No gun along.  Right.  Someone needs to tell her that this is not going to be a walk in Itasca State Park.

So naturally she has plenty of mishaps – she gets lost,  hurts her feet and other body parts terribly,  makes friends with unlikelies,  runs out of money and water and gets into other very dangerous situations including wild animals and men.   As she herself has to say,  she was very lucky.

Of course she goes through all the emotional turmoil predicted.   So what …  the book is about … (ta-da, ta-da) … “healing,  forgiveness of self and others,” etc.

She walks along,  singing sometimes, getting mail, money and food supplies along the way.

I have a feeling that like Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert the ultimate addiction is “man-love”  and that after she does this she will find true love – or a new enthusiasm – whatever.  She’ll not have changed a bit – not really.  She might learn to accept herself as the flawed human she is – have to see.


All that said,  I kept reading and rather enjoyed Cheryl and her trip, thanks in large part to Dunne’s reading,  although I couldn’t keep myself from my little “judgements.”

NY Times review:

Interview with Pacific Crest Trail group:

The Pacific Crest Trail goes rather near to where I live.  My sister hiked from San Bernardino to Mount St. Helens (almost) in 2001 (I think).

To the left is hiking into the mountains,  below is Crater Lake near Bridge of the Gods.

Overall,  I’m glad I read it – only because I’ve always been interested in the PCT,  curious,  wanting to hike a little part of it anyway.  Maybe this summer?


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