Tuesday, September 10, 2013



My sister recommended that I read the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Here is a brief synopsis of the book:

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

I read the book. To be honest, I didn't LOVE it, but I liked it. The book is well written, and pretty entertaining, but much of it felt repetitive to me. I guess much of life is repetitive, so I shouldn't knock the author for reflecting that. I could not relate to her character AT ALL -- I have never been married/divorced, I am lucky enough to still have my parents, I have never tried heroin, and I have ZERO interest in camping or in "roughing it".  But I admired her courage and will power, and the strength she had to face her demons and conquer them. 

I have to give the author credit for giving me one big belly laugh.  I re-read one particular section repeatedly, and loved it so much that I am posting it here for you to enjoy (or skip the next few paragraphs if you think you might want to read the book someday).  You don't really need much of a set-up, except to know that at this point in the story the author is exhausted after hiking in extreme heat, and she has fallen asleep one evening out on the trail outside of her tent....

By the time I was sated, it was dark and the full moon was rising.  I couldn't muster the energy to set up my tent--a task that required little more than two minutes' effort, which now seemed Herculean to me.  I didn't need a tent.  It hadn't rained since my first couple of days on the trail.  I put my clothes back on and spread out my sleeping bag on the tarp, but it was too hot still to do anything but lie on top of it.  I was too tired to read.  Even gazing at the moon felt like a mild effort.  I'd consumed 128 ounces of questionable reservoir water since I'd arrived a couple of hours before and I still didn't have to pee.  I had done a stupendously dumb thing by setting out across Hat Creek Rim with so little water.  I'll never be so careless again, I promised the moon before falling asleep.

I woke two hours later with the vaguely pleasant sensation that tiny cool hands were gently patting me.  They were on my bare legs and arms and face and in my hair, on my feet and throat and hands.  I could feel their cool weight through my T-shirt on my chest and belly.  "Hmmm," I moaned, turning slightly before I opened my eyes and a series of facts came to me in slow motion.

There was the fact of the moon and the fact that I was sleeping out in the open on my tarp. 

There was the fact that I had woken because it seemed like small cool hands were gently patting me and the fact that the small cool hands were gently patting me.

And then there was the final fact of all, which was a fact more monumental than even the moon: the fact that those small cool hands were not hands, but hundreds of small cool black frogs.

Small cool slimy black frogs jumping all over me.

Each one was the approximate size of a potato chip.  They were an amphibious army, a damp smooth-skinned militia, a great web-footed migration, and I was in their path as they hopped, scrambled, leapt, and hurled their tiny, pudgy, bent-legged bodies from the reservoir and onto the scrim of dirt that they no doubt considered their private beach. 

Within an instant, I was among them, hopping, scrambling, leaping, and hurling myself, my pack, my tarp, and everything that sat on it into the rush beyond the beach, swatting frogs from my hair and the folds of my T-shirt as I went.  I couldn't help but squash a few beneath my bare feet.  Finally safe, I stood watching them from the frog-free perimeter, the frantic motion of their little dark bodies apparent in the blazing moonlight.  I checked my shorts pockets for errant frogs.  I gathered my things into a little clear patch that seemed flat enough for my tent and pulled it from my pack.  I didn't need to see what I was doing.  My tent was up with the flick of my wrist.

BAH!!!!  All I could think after reading this was BETTER HER THAN ME!  :)

black frogs


Caroline said...

I liked the book too...and I admire her courage to hike and camp alone like that. Nope...not into camping these days. But "Glamping...that I can do!"

Meghan said...

I really liked this book. I thought the part in the beginning when she's in the hotel room before she starts the trail and she's packing her bag full of all that stuff was hilarious.
I do love camping, but this was pretty extreme and impressive.
When we were in Portland last month, we drove over the bridge of the gods, and I liked thinking about her sitting on that bench with her ice cream.

RAINETTE (l'énigmatique) said...

these 2 frogs are beautiful....

You know that rainette is a kind of frog dont' you ?

I'm a frogggggg !

Krista Gassib said...

I too enjoyed this read although the life lessons got a bit redundant after a while. That frog part still gives me the creeps, can you imagine stepping on them....ew! I live in Portland and I'm surrounded by all this beauty yet I hardly ever explore it, I need to work on that.

Cheryl Ann said...

ewwwww....!! not so much them hopping on her, as her STEPPING ON THEM WITH BARE FEET. barf. i enjoy camping (for like, 2 nights, at most), but damn girl - hiking the Pacific Coast? nope.

Jen Vallette said...

I'm totally getting - I LOVE reading adventure shit like this. I've read and re-read all of John Kraukauer's books and actually subscribe to Outdoor magazine for there amazing coverage of things like this. Thanks!!

nicole said...

i loved that book. as a kid i spent lots of time on trails, camping with nothing more than a pack of essentials. (the pack was usually bigger than i was) anyway, there is something valuable in confronting nature to ultimately confront yourself. i felt like i grew the most as a young person on those trips. i'm envious of her bravery.

Mandy_Fish said...

I loved that book and that scene was hilarious!!!

Kristine said...

I enjoyed the book although I had expected to love it. I always dream of being an outdoorsy person but then I remember that I love ice cubes in my drinks and worry about creatures that can eat me.