Many of you will have heard about the recently released film Wild. The one with Reese Witherspoon. The one where “she’s doing that thing you’re doing”…

So it wasn’t actually Reese Witherspoon that hiked the PCT – before the film, Wild was a book (still is) by Cheryl Strayed. Published in 2012 I came across it when I was initially researching my trip. Neither the book or the film inspired my trip – but it may inspire yours.

There are a lot of opinionated people out there, none more so than those who have an opinion on Wild (whether they have read it or not) and the general consensus was: don’t read it. I had made my mind up, I didn’t want to read a book that was set on the PCT but wasn’t about hiking the PCT. I didn’t want to read about a heroin addict who slept with loads of men, who wondered into the wild woefully unprepared and made reckless decisions such as throwing her boots off a cliff. I didn’t want to read about someone who ‘only’ walked 1100 miles.

Then the film came out and it wasn’t only the long distance hiking community that was talking about Wild, it was everyone.

So I decided I should read the book and see the film and have my own opinion.

The book: Well firstly I have to eat my words and say that I’m glad I read the book, it’s well written, very emotive and I really enjoyed it!

This book is primarily about the life of Cheryl Strayed and (as a bonus) some of it is set on the PCT. Things were going well for Cheryl, until at aged 20 her mother was diagnosed with cancer and she died only a month later at aged 46. Over the next 5 years Cheryl’s family fell apart, her marriage broke down, she made some bad decisions, like taking heroin, which lead to more bad decisions, like sleeping with lots of different men. She saw a book about the PCT in a shop and the idea simmered away until she decided she needed to sort her life out and that walking would help her do that. She researched the trail (which was far harder 20 years ago that it is today!), decided on a section and far from being underprepared, she was over prepared to her detriment – she carried a folding saw, binoculars and enough water to last about 2 weeks! But she adapted, learnt and listened to advice as she went along.

“I didn’t know where I was going until I got there”

If you are expecting to read about the PCT then yes you will be disappointed, but if you are interested in reading about one persons experience of life then you should give it a go.

The film: The film was good, but my main hang up was Reese. While her performance is good, I couldn’t get past the fact she is a 38 year old woman playing the role of a 25 year old, and she was waaaay too clean! It was quite dark in places which reflects the book well and there are some light-hearted comedic moments too to help break up the darkness.

My main worry was that the film would make the PCT seem ‘easy’ and that people would be encouraged on to the trail without sufficient preparation – it won’t! The trail is portrayed as tough, dirty, mentally challenging and physically draining – which it will be!

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt with. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding”

Read the book…

See the film…

Go on an adventure!

(9 weeks to go. Whaaaat?)

 

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