Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

When we lived in the Mojave Desert (1982 - 2000) we occasionally ventured into the Sierra, usually on a weekend in Spring or Fall, when then weather was as temperate as it ever got.  We would walk along one of the trails for an hour or so, feeling adventurous and brave, and then climb back in the truck to return to town.  Sometimes when our family or friends visited, we would have the opportunity to introduce them to the mountains as well. But we never tested ourselves against the wilderness even close to the experiences Cheryl Strayed describes in Wild.
She was a novice hiker and trail walker, who started near Walker Pass (close to where we lived). She tells all of the details of managing a journey of many weeks and hundreds of miles, learning as she goes how her equipment works, that her boots are too small, that most people she meets are friendly and helpful, that there are some really life-threatening situations (e.g., ice on the trail).
Like all good memoirs, this is honest and frank,  funny and sad. She keeps such a close eye on the minute details of her hike that the reader feels the sweat, exhaustion, thirst, exhilaration that she feels.
I had put off reading Wild, because I thought it was being over-hyped and over-praised.  Yet once I sat down with it, I was its captive till the very end.


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