In case you have been away from media in the past year or so, Cheryl Strayed wrote a book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The short version is that she goes out unprepared, with no previous experience, in part to detox from a heroin habit and in part to get over a breakup and find herself. She eventually triumphs, after facing cold weather, blisters, and the consequences of her lack of preparation. And there's a lot of men, nice guys that repack her pack for her, pass along tips and gear, and generally make things go more smoothly for her. And love interests. They're making it into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon.
Wild is a great story about personal transformation. It's well written and compelling. But it's a terrible example for anyone considering taking on a thru hike. It makes the PCT seem pretty scary and inaccessible. It also makes it seem like maybe men are better suited to such thing or that maybe women can't do it without the help of men. But there are plenty of hiking memoirs and guides that are good examples while still being compelling stories. And some of them are written by women. The one I am reading these days is “The Appalachian Trail Girl’s Guide: Part Memoir, Part Manifesto”.
What's great about the Girl's Guide is that she keeps it real and practical. You get an easy read with some great stories from her more than six month long hike of the Appalachian trail but you also get a ton of great advice from what kind of tent to use to how (and when) to swap out your winter clothes. And if you are thinking of taking on the AT, she lists some of the prettiest places and best section hikes of the trail to get you started. Books like these are great escapes and good fuel for our creative wanderlust. Check it out.
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