As adventurers, many of us at AdventureWomen have been drawn to the stories penned by author Cheryl Strayed. Her books Wild, Torch, Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough are full of inspirational vignettes and lessons drawn from her own life story and experiences.
In Wild, Cheryl unveils her personal journey hiking the Pacific Coast Trail in 1995 when she was 26 and grief stricken after her mother’s death and her own divorce. Her first-person account of hiking more than 1,000 miles alone from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon and on to Washington State is a tale of fear and courage, vulnerability and strength, determination and resilience.
For the first 8 days of her hike, Cheryl didn’t see another human being. Her description of what it was like relying entirely on herself with no preparation for what she encountered on a daily basis is a lesson for all of us in the power of will and self-reliance. She recounts the fact that every day, she realized she only had a few choices and inevitably, she was forced to make the one choice she least wanted to make. But this constant uphill battle gave her courage, confidence, insights about herself and it forever changed her.
The most powerful part of Cheryl’s journey and story is how this experience ultimately healed her after her personal setbacks. As the wilderness became her home and being alone her norm, her perspective changed. “The world became at once smaller and much larger” she says.
She believes all of us have similar stories of “bearing the unbearable” and that is what resonates with all of us when we follow her story in Wild.
Listen to Oprah’s conversation with Cheryl about how “solo” can be a “soul-connecting” experience:
“Big-hearted, keen-eyed, lyrical, precise…Cheryl Strayed reminds us in every line that if defeat and despair are part of human experience, so are kindness, patience, and transcendence.” – George Saunders