I am an avid reader – mostly fiction, but not exclusively. When I started this blog, I decided to add some hiking books to my mix. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is the first hiking book I have read. Wow! This book was written with brutal honesty and gripping story telling.
The one thing that really struck me was how profoundly unprepared for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail Cheryl was when she embarked on her journey, despite having planned the trip for over a year. I am a natural planner, so it was foreign to me to not be bothered by this.
Cheryl’s trail experiences are relayed with humor, compassion, and no-holds-bar raw emotions. Reeling from her mother’s early death due to cancer, her divorce, and the unraveling of her family, Cheryl takes to the PCT – unexperienced, naive, and fairly miserable much of the time.
Despite her multitude of setbacks, she still has a drive that is admirable and sometimes on the verge of manic – she keeps pressing on. Her description of her tortured feet made mine ache just thinking about it. I was in shock that she could keep going! I don’t think I could have done that.
As the hiking got easier and she opened herself up to her fellow PCT hikers, she was able to come to terms with all the trials and her bad choices from her past. She experienced many fortunate “trail magic” moments along the trail. I felt that her mom was truly looking out for her and keeping her safe on the trail and what could have been some seriously dangerous situations.
I was moved by her honest portrayal of a lost soul that still managed to find herself, despite her past choices. This book proved that you are not a victim of your past, if you put forth the effort to change. And if that does not ring true, you can always hike a very long distance – like maybe thousands – to help clear your mind, and break away the cobwebs that every day life can sometimes allow to settle in.
When I walk, whether it’s hiking, or just walking, one of the things I’ve always loved and eventually came to rely on, is how my mind would work out problems, and chip away to get to the root of the issues that just obsessing about something could not. The physical activity of putting one foot in front of the other does more that just propel you forward. It centers your mind, gives you a fresh perspective, helps you peel away the layers and get to the root of what is important. That has always been my trail magic.
Would I take a solo, long hike after reading this book? It really does pump you up and make you feel invincible! But, while reading this book, I took a night walk in my neighborhood. The resulting paranoia and quickened pulse that occurred after just 1 1/2 miles of my 2 1/2 mile walk through my neighborhood, makes me believe that a solo journey is not in my future. But, I am not ruling it out completely! Remember though, whether you hike solo or in a group, Hiking is Fun – Adventure Awaits.
What about you? Have you ever hiked solo? If so, what were your experiences? Would you do it again?