Date Completed: 6/4/2015
This is an alright read. As such, I’ve included one spoiler, but the main point is the journey, so if you want to read it you can.
Cheryl Strayed, the author, is 26 and newly divorced. It’s 1993 and her mother died 4 years ago at the ripe young age of 45. Her stepfather and her siblings have drifted apart over the last four years, and with the end of her marriage, she needs a new adventure to rediscover herself (typical white girl thing). She decides to quit her job, sell most of her belongings, and spend the summer hiking the PCT.
On the trail, she quickly develops blisters and callouses, unable to take the first few weeks faster than 10 miles a day, on a good day. After the first few weeks she meets a pair of hikers, called the Boy Scouts and Albert discerns the good from the bad in her pack, getting rid of almost ½ the weight. She soon builds endurance and is able to hike 20+ miles a day.
The point of the story is her letting go of her mother and becoming grounded in the present. She eventually decides to live in Portland as a writer and waitress.
The turning point of the book is when she decides to get new boots, but the boots are not sent in a timely manner. In order to have enough food, she has to walk 150 miles to the next post office and have her boots sent there. About 40 miles or so into her last leg to the new boots, one of the boots sails off the side of the mountain, gone forever. “I gasped in surprise and lurched for my other boot, clutching it to my chest, waiting for the moment to reverse itself, or someone to come laughing from the woods, shaking his head and saying it had all been a joke. But no one laughed. No one would. The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back. I really did have only one boot. So I stood up and tossed the other one over the edge too.”
Her character development is all right, I suppose. She learns to let things go and not worry about the future too much, and she learns how to be alone. She’s really the only character that has development. I’m not exactly like her because I have both my parents, I will have a college degree, and I know a little bit more about backpacking. I would like to hike the PCT and the AT, as well as hikes around the world.
The PCT was actually created the same year as the AT in 1968. The proposal was put forth in 1926. The year she hiked in 1993 was a record snowpack year, and she skipped a lot of the Sierra Nevada as did many other hikers. The trail is 2,650 miles long. Oregon comprises 498 of those miles.