The Pacific Crest Trail in Cheryl Strayed’s Wild

Jefferson Park, Oregon from the north ridge of the Pacific Crest Trail. PHOTO CREDIT: EncMstr. This photo is licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“It was a world I’d never been to and yet had known was there all along, one I’d stagger to in sorrow and confusion and fear and hope. A world I thought would make me into the woman I knew I could become and turn me back into the girl I’d once been. A world that measured two feet wide and 2,663 miles long.”1

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild documents what few people ever imagine to do and even fewer actually set out to do. Her memoir chronicles her three-month solo journey along a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Grieving the loss of her mother and her failed marriage, Strayed decides to completely leave her past behind on a whim after picking up a book about the PCT at an outdoor store. Without any training or experience, she survives the next hundred days on her own while facing extreme weather conditions, dehydration, and losing her only pair of hiking boots over a mountain cliff. After hiking over one thousand miles of the trail, she can finally accept her mother’s death and begin her life anew.

Map Note: Cheryl Strayed began her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mojave Desert in California.

The PCT was officially designated in 1968, although the trail wasn’t actually completed until 1993, just two years before Strayed’s journey. The trail spans from Mexico to Canada, passing through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, among several others. There are a number of places along the PCT in which hikers can restock their supplies by mailing themselves packages with food. In the last four decades, almost three thousand people have completed the trail in its entirety, 57 of whom have done it more than once.

See the trailer for the major motion picture Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, in theaters December 5th

Read more about the Pacific Crest Trail on the Pacific Crest Trail Association website and on Wikipedia. Read more about Cheryl Strayed on her website. Find Cheryl Strayed’s Wild at a local library, an independent bookstore, or on Amazon.

1 Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. New York: Vintage Books, 2013. 4. Print.

Krista recently graduated with her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Saint Mary’s College of California. She is also a contributing editor for a Bay Area-based literary journal, The East Bay Review (www.theeastbayreview.com).

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