Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed
I chose this book to bring with me on my Scotland adventure this week. There was something about reading a woman's travel adventure while I had my own adventure that was comforting and exciting. My adventure involved hot baths and a good nights sleep and thankfully, no rattlesnakes.
I first read Strayed in her essay about grief that got published in an anthology of the best non-fiction. Her essay was a memoir of her grieving over her mother's death by shooting up heroin and sleeping with as many men as she could. Both activities led to her divorce from a man she loved very much. In the essay, she alludes
to deciding to hike the Pacific Coast Trail as an antidote to her grief. She saves money, plans, buys equipment, and heads out for a 100 day journey through California and Oregon--through the high sierras-- where she quickly learns that though she planned and packed she probably should have trained as well.
Strayed voice is honest and humbled. She goes from novice to seasoned hiker. She grieves, she parties, she experiences solitude and companionship on the trail, kindnesses, and the aforementioned rattlesnakes. Never in my wildest dreams, even when I was young and fit, could I have ever dreamed of this sort of solo adventure. I probably enjoyed it so much knowing that she did something that I could never hope to do.
I loved this book and read it quickly on the plane and within 4 days of starting the trip. I found Strayed's voice to be truly compelling. I cared about her and wanted to see her complete her magnificent journey.
As a side note, I took this in e-book format and felt sort of guilty and slovenly. I would love to hand it to a fellow traveler to read or at least leave it in a B & B. But alas cannot. Also, I discovered halfway through the trip that a fellow traveler is reading the exact same book. I never would have known had she not mentioned it. I guess I am realizing that books are a shared experience for me, and that e-readers, don't allow for the sharing of story or the discovering of other people's story journeys.
But you should discover this journey and an important new voice in literature.