I just wanted to explain that my personal experience with trekking through the Sierra Nevada mountain range was one of the primary reasons I was drawn to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Though, my 200 mile trip doesn't even hold a candle to Strayed's 1,100 mile journey. Aside from my trip being a fraction of the size of Strayed's, I had good company, experienced backpackers with me every step of the way, modern equipment, and was able to disperse the weight of my group's camping gear into the packs of two other people.
At one point in the book, Strayed is sitting alone in a motel room in Mojave, California, the morning her journey on the trail begins. She has not yet tried on her pack, and has no idea how much it is going weigh. Once she has mentally prepared herself for the journey and packed up her equipment, she approaches her pack to swing it up onto her shoulder. No dice.
About this very scenario, Strayed writes:
"I squatted and grasped its frame more robustly and tried to lift it again. Again it did not move. Not even an inch. I tried to lift it with both hands, my legs braced beneath me, while attempting to wrap it in a bear hug, with all of my breath and my might and my will, with everything in me. And still it did not come. It was exactly like trying to lift a Volkswagen Beetle. It looked so cute, so ready to be lifted--and yet it was impossible to do."
See, if I had encountered a similar situation on my first day of backpacking, I think I would have been down for the count. I watched an interview between Strayed and Oprah, and Oprah said the same thing! She said she would have taken not being able to lift the pack as a sign that she was making a mistake. Strayed swiftly responded to Oprah's remark with support, saying, "Well, that's what Wild is about. It's about how we bear what we cannot bear."
So, in retrospect, anyone can read and relate to this book, whether you have ever stepped foot into the wilderness or not. We've all met challenges and overcome obstacles in our lives, and probably always will! To be able to read about a woman who had the courage to not only face, but share her trials with the world is very inspirational and moving.
Above, a 27 year old Strayed is pictured at Crater Lake in Oregon, post sixth toenail loss. Still looks pretty happy, though!
After reading Wild I became seriously infected with the travel bug. I miss the mountains.
Mount Whitney this summer, anyone?