Cheryl Strayed's memoir about her dramatic trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Wild, has been out for awhile now, but it's seeing a resurgence in readers with the release of the new film starring Reese Witherspoon as the inexperienced young hiker. The book was wildly popular upon release and was the first pick for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Longitude's book club has joined the crowd of armchair travelers following Strayed's trek up the West Coast and will be discussing the book and the film at our next meeting.
Reese Witherspoon as Strayed
Disillusioned with her mother's death and the dissolution of her marriage, the intrepid Strayed set off to hike more than a thousand miles from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to the border of Washington state on the Pacific Crest Trail. The journey, which Strayed undertook alone in her twenties with little training but a lot of will, would challenge and frustrate but ultimately strengthen and heal her on her quest for self-reinvention.
The book moves smoothly between Strayed's experiences on the trail--detailing encounters with wildlife and fellow hikers as well as the trials of the grueling hike--and the past she is simultaneously fleeing and exploring. The film is full of powerful flashbacks to Strayed's former life: her mother's painful death, her father's abuse and the many affairs that led to her divorce. But both the book and the film are at their best when a simple triumph on the trail allows Strayed to overcome a past failure to discover self acceptance as she learns “how wild it was, to let it be.” Thinking of following in Strayed's footsteps and hiking the PCT? There's plenty more to read after you finish Wild! Click here for books on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.