Cheryl Strayed was 22-years-old when her mother died at the age of 45. Strayed fell into a downward spiral that led to a divorce and a casual relationship with heroin. During that time she got the crazy idea to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (1,100 miles) alone. She is wildly unprepared for the journey: she has no prior backpacking experience and, despite endless research, she skips things like going on a dry run with her pack.
“I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it.”
Cheryl is a bit of a whiner; she uses the death of her mother to justify a lot of bad behavior and her journey on the PCT as a baptism that will cleanse those sins away. If you ignore all the parts that aren’t about her trek it’s a pretty enjoyable read (skip that chapter that begins with her talking about her mother’s horse, Lady). Strayed gets a lot of special treatment during her journey, she’s the only solo woman hiking the trail, but she does acknowledge it and its not her fault people wanted to help her out along the way.
I could never do what Cheryl did. I’ve camped before, but it was under duress and I complained constantly. I’m allergic to everything and the thought of not showering for weeks on end makes me gag. What Strayed accomplished is pretty spectacular and it’s a much better “white woman goes on a spiritual journey” read than Eat, Pray, Love.
14 of the 48 book I’ve read this year have been adapted into movies. That’s not counting ones that are rumored to be in various states of cinematic production…I say that because, prior to hearing about Reese Witherspoon’s starring turn in the movie coming out later this year, I hadn’t heard of Cheryl Strayed but now it seems her story is everywhere. Seriously, right after finishing this I read Stephanie Beatriz’s Uproxx20 where she answers “what book are you most likely to give as a gift” with Cheryl Strayed’s memoir.
I’m definitely interested in seeing what Hollywood does with this, if only because the scenery shots are probably going to be breathtaking. However, I’m concerned at how they’ll handle all the inner monologuing that Cheryl does while she hikes alone.