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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific…

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club… (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Cheryl Strayed

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2,4451962,522 (3.96)191
Title:Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)
Authors:Cheryl Strayed
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Book Club, Second Read, 2014, 2012, Memoir

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (2012)

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  1. 80
    A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (ominogue)
  2. 00
    Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis (booklove2)
    booklove2: A very memorable account of a young woman hiking the Appalachian Trail by herself! Inspiring!
  3. 00
    The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind-and Almost Found Myself-on the Pacific Crest Trail (P.S.) by Dan White (clif_hiker)
  4. 17
    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Darcie2013)
    Darcie2013: Like Eat, Pray, Love, Wild is about a woman who has gone through life-changing events and has realized she no longer knows who she is. In both books, the author decides that through travel she may find herself.

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Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
I enjoyed it for the first half, but then felt like it continued on and on with more of the same, and not much resolution. I find that I am more interested in what happened after the hike, than what lead her to it. ( )
  birdforbeans | Jul 2, 2014 |
This book made me long to put on my hiking boots and spend some time in the wild, though perhaps not for three months, nor travelling on my own on a little frequented trail carrying a backpack half my weight, as Cheryl Strayed did. After going through a difficult time when her mother, whom she was very close to was diagnosed with cancer and died very shortly after (strayed was 22, her mother, only 45), Strayed found herself sinking ever lower. First breaking up her marriage, although she loved her husband, then falling into a heroin habit and quickly going nowhere. Raised in a house with no electricity or running water as a youth, she decided roughing it in the wilds would be the best way for her to find herself again, and so with very little information save for one guide book about the PCT (this was in 1996, before the internet became anything like the resource it is today), she took off on this journey with no previous experience, a backpack which was so heavy she couldn't lift it off the ground, and boots which turned out to be too small so that each day her feet were massacred in the process. I found the first part, where she talks about her mother's illness and the dreadful weeks spent at the hospital, with her condition worsening faster than anyone had predicted to be difficult going, But as soon as she started to narrate her PCT adventure, she made me feel as though I was right alongside her sharing the thrills of the outdoors. Strayed always wanted to be a writer and she seems like a natural storyteller. She relates her experience from extensive notes and a journal she kept on her journey and narrates the tale as she progresses on the trail and mostly stumbled and bumbled about, but also had nice encounters and experiences. Definitely recommended. ( )
  Smiler69 | Jul 1, 2014 |
It’s 1995 and Cheryl Strayed’s life could not be more desperate and out of control. The death of her mother a few years before has left her reeling, consumed by grief and making one bad decision after another. Strung out on heroin, cheating on her husband with just about anyone who came along, and bouncing around from Minnesota to Oregon to New York to California, never staying long in one place, she finally makes the decision that something must change. She starts by divorcing her husband. Although she loves him mightily, she realizes that she must let him go if she is ever to get her life back on track. As soon as the divorce is final, she decides that she will hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a wilderness trail that starts in southern California and ends at the Canadian border. She has little or no hiking experience having, on a whim, picked up a book that explained what the PCT was, and she is going it alone so immediately it becomes obvious that she is a person of unbelievable faith in her own abilities or she’s unbelievably out of her mind. She made many mistakes that could have ended in catastrophe. She had an incredible amount of luck.

Strayed is determination personified, to say the least. How she coped with the loneliness, extreme heat, bitter cold, deteriorating footwear, wild animals, record setting snow pack, and brain freezing boredom is beyond me. But cope she did.

”The thing about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, the thing that was so profound to me that summer---and yet also, like most things, so very simple---was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do. How there was no escape or denial. No numbing it down with a martini or covering it up with a roll in the hay. As I clung to the chaparral that day, attempting to patch up my bleeding finger, terrified by every sound that the bull was coming back, I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go. The bull, I acknowledged grimly, could be in either direction, since I hadn’t seen where he’d run once I closed my eyes. I could only choose between the bull that would take me back and the bull that would take me forward. And so I walked on.” (Page 76)

Written with passion and never maudlin, this is one memoir I can heartily recommend. As she ticks off the miles and gets ready for the final push to the Oregon/Washington border, I found myself cheering her determination, her gritty performance and her possibilities for a wonderful life. ( )
7 vote brenzi | Jun 16, 2014 |
WILD is the story of the author's hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, but it's also the story of how she came to be there: her mother's death from cancer at 45, her siblings and stepfather scattering, her marriage collapsing, and a brief time using heroin. Strayed latches on to the idea of hiking the PCT as the thing that will get her back on the right path, and at 26, she sets out on her own. She prepared well enough in some ways (leaving boxes with a friend to send to her at various stops along her route) and less well in other ways (no physical training ahead of time, too much weight in her pack, wrong size boots, not quite enough money). What she finds, though, is that the people she meets on the trail are mostly kind. This is both memoir and outdoorsy adventure story, written with clarity in an accessible style.


But this time she just gazed and me and said, "Honey," the same as she always had when she'd seen me suffer because I wanted something to be different than it was and she was trying to convince me with that single word that I must accept things as they were. (25)

Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren't a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. (119)

I could always take another step. It was only when I rounded a bend and glimpsed the white peaks ahead that I doubted my abilities, only when I thought how far I had yet to go that I lost faith that I would get there. (120)

It had only to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. (207)

The universe, I'd learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back. (209)

Grief doesn't have a face. (212)

Going down, I realized, was like taking hold of the loose strand of yarn on a sweater you'd just spend hours knitting and pulling it until the entire sweater unraveled into a pile of string. Hiking the PCT was the maddening effort of knitting that sweater and unraveling it over and over again. As if everything gained was inevitably lost. (222)

What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I'd done something I shouldn't have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I'd done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? ...What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn't have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was? (258)

Bagby Hot Springs (297) ( )
  JennyArch | Jun 13, 2014 |
When Cheryl Strayed was 26, her beloved mother died of a particularly swift and brutal form of cancer. The loss devastated her, so much so that three years later her grief still felt raw, her life was spinning out of control, and her marriage was dissolving for no very good reason. At this point, she made an impulsive and frankly pretty crazy decision: in an attempt to get her head together, she would spend three months hiking over a thousand miles through the wilderness on the Pacific Crest Trail. This, despite the fact that she had no backpacking experience whatsoever.

In this memoir, she talks about her mother's life and death, her own complex, difficult, and often self-destructive emotions, her experiences along the trail, what she expected her journey to do for her, and what it actually did. It's all very well-written. Her difficulties and emotions are conveyed with a remarkable and often rather painful honesty, and her descriptions of her days on the trail ring very true. I've never done anything remotely like her wilderness odyssey, but in the places where her experiences overlap a bit with my own much more limited ones -- particularly hiking through the desert while tired and dehydrated -- I found myself thinking, "Yes, she's captured it. That is exactly what it's like."

I must confess that Cheryl herself -- her personality and her choices -- resonated much less well with me than her perceptions of life on the trail. At many points, I found it difficult not to feel judgmental towards her for behaviors and attitudes that seemed to me flighty, irresponsible, or self-absorbed. Although, in fairness, her narrative voice as she recounts all this decades later does give the impression of having gained some thoughtful maturity. And, given that, the openness with which she is willing to reveal her flawed younger self to readers, with neither whitewashing nor excuses, is admirable and appreciated. ( )
1 vote bragan | Jun 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
It’s not very manly, the topic of weeping while reading. Yet for a book critic tears are an occupational hazard. Luckily, perhaps, books don’t make me cry very often — I’m a thrice-a-year man, at best. Turning pages, I’m practically Steve McQueen.

Cheryl Strayed’s new memoir, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” however, pretty much obliterated me. I was reduced, during her book’s final third, to puddle-eyed cretinism. I like to read in coffee shops, and I began to receive concerned glances from matronly women, the kind of looks that said, “Oh, honey.” It was a humiliation.

To mention all this does Ms. Strayed a bit of a disservice, because there’s nothing cloying about “Wild.” It’s uplifting, but not in the way of many memoirs, where the uplift makes you feel that you’re committing mental suicide. This book is as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound.
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(Prologue) The trees were tall, but I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California.
My solo three-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail had many beginnings.
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A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.

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