Monday, December 8, 2014

Part Eight of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Four, If You Don't Hate Her After This, I Don't Even.

A review of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Part Eight: Chapter Four, If You Don't Hate Her After This, I Don't Even.


Chapter Four opens with Cheryl admitting that she had done a lot of dumb things in her life-- NO KIDDING, I NEVER WOULD HAVE EVEN GUESSED-- but that hitchhiking was not yet one of those things.  She decides, however, that there's just no possible way she could actually walk twelve whole miles to get to the trail and that the only feasible way to get there was to hitchhike. 

"Plus, hitchhiking was simply what PCT hikers did on occasion.  And I was a PCT hiker, right?  Right?"
Wrong.
She calls upon The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume I: California-- one of the FIVE BOOKS she's carrying in her pack-- to justify her almost instant proclivity to hitchhiking, explaining:
"On some occasions the PCT would cross a road and miles down that road would be the post office where one would have mailed the box of food and supplies needed on the next section of the trail.  Hitchhiking was the only practical solution when it came to fetching those boxes and returning to the trail."

Yes, Cheryl, that is when hitchhiking is okay, not the way you're going to do it, which is to hitchhike at every possible moment when something gets too hard.  You're off to a great start.

Cheryl loiters at the gas station in Mojave, looking for people who didn't look like "murderers or rapists" to give her a ride, because if there's one thing Cheryl is good at, it's judging peop-- oh right, nothing.

"Finally, I had to make a move.  It was nearly eleven, pitching steadily into the heat of a June day in the desert."
Murderers and rapists be damned, it's hot outside.
Maybe if she had bothered to prepare for this trek in any fucking way, she could have been ready to go at 5am like a normal person and walked the twelve miles before sunup.  Nope, she needs a ride.
She finally finds two non-rapist/murderer-looking men and pretty much just annoys them into giving her a ride.  We should assume that these two men are white because she does not describe them in any sort of meaningful way (Cheryl always goes out of her way to point out the races of the non-white people she encounters because that's what racists do).  She figures out how to get her gigantic backpack off without snapping her spine in half and gets into their van (completely pointless PSA for women who have even half a brain: WOMEN, NEVER, EVER GET INTO A STRANGE MAN'S VAN, unless you're Cheryl Strayed, and then, by all means, do it).  It's cool, though, because they're white.
They finally reach a point close enough to the trail for the men to feel okay about kicking her out of the van, and we come to the first of many instances when we are reminded of just how heavy Cheryl's backpack weighs and how big strong men are super impressed with her.
"'Are you sure you can lift that?' he asked. ''Cause I barely can.'"
You're so amazing.
She waits until the men leave to struggle back into her pack and start walking, and she finally finds a fence post with a sign that says "PACIFIC CREST TRAIL."

"It occurred to me that now would be the perfect time to take a photograph, but to unpack the camera would entail such a series of gear and bungee cord removals that I didn't even want to attempt it."
Glad you paid almost a thousand dollars for that camera you're not using.  I smell bullshit.
She stumbles upon a trail register, high-fives herself for being the only female solo-hiker on the books and exclaims,
"I'm hiking!"
Gah.
She then tries to compare... I don't even know what. 
"I walked all the time.  I walked for hours on end as a waitress."
= expert backpacker.
Turns out that being a waitress and hiking the PCT are two entirely different things and Cheryl is immediately panting and sweating like someone who has never hiked before, go figure. 
She's once again "hunching in a remotely upright position" because of course she is, and then she dives into some asinine drivel about how being afraid was an unacceptable option.
"Fear begets fear.  Power begets power.  I willed myself to beget power."
"Great advice, I'll tell my nieces to 'will away' date rapists." --Jaime 

She starts walking and because walking is boring as fuck, Cheryl is forced into one of her clumsy flashbacks about shit we shouldn't care about, except this time we should because what she has to say is so profoundly unbelievable that I feel we need to explore it.

Flashback to six months prior when Cheryl is eating chips and salsa and drinking margaritas at a Mexican restaurant when she got "a funny feeling" in her gut.

"'It's like I swallowed the chips whole,' I told Aimee, 'like the edges are still intact and jabbing me inside.'  I felt full and tingly down low, like I'd never felt before.  'Maybe I'm pregnant,' I joked, and then the moment I said it, I realized I wasn't joking."

Holy shit, she's pregnant.  Great, like the world needs her contribution to the gene pool.  And who's the lucky guy?  Some heroin addict named Joe.  And what does Cheryl supposedly do?  She becomes a heroin addict.  Except, bullshit.

UUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH, SO MANY QUOTES TO CHOOSE FROM.

"So I didn't just say yes to heroin.  I pulled it in with both hands."
Sure you did.
"In the beginning, it was a few times a week, then it was every couple of days, then it was every day.  First we smoked it, then we snorted it.  But we would never shoot it! we said.  Absolutely not.
"Then we shot it."
No, you didn't.
"Like I'd found an actual planet that I didn't know had been there all along.  Planet Heroin."
"Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!" --Jaime
Cheryl then tries to convince us that she was all hard-core addicted to heroin, stating, "...in the afternoons I'd return with a wad of cash to buy another bit of heroin..."  Crap.  Just crap.  I'm no heroin expert, but I've watched enough "Intervention" to know that you don't buy heroin by the "bit."  I also know that you can't shoot heroin for several months and then be all "DO-DO-DOOO, IMMA GO FOR A 1000-MILE WALK NOW!" and somehow bypass all of the horribly debilitating heroin withdrawal.

We're then forced into several pages about how all of her friends and her ex-husband just drop everything to try to help her and Christ, I can't even.  She takes a pregnancy test, it comes back positive and then she-- I'm sorry.  I don't even know how to word this, so I'll let Cheryl do the talking.  I am not making this up-- this is exactly what she has to say about how she dealt with her pregnancy:

"I got an abortion and learned how to make dehydrated tuna flakes and turkey jerky and took a refresher course on basic first aid and practiced using my water purifier in my kitchen sink."

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN.  I am fiercely pro-choice, but if I were ever to become pregnant, I would STRUGGLE with this decision, and I know in my heart that in the end, I would still carry this child to term and likely give it up for adoption because I don't think I'd have it in me to have an abortion-- AND THAT IS MY CHOICE.  Many of my friends who have had abortions struggled not only with making the choice to do so, but also suffered from depression and feelings of guilt for years after having made this difficult decision.  Abortion is not an easy thing. This asshole, though... I cannot even begin to understand her flippant way of stating that she got an abortion in THE SAME GODDAMN SENTENCE with learning how to make dehydrated tuna flakes.  This woman is an awful, awful person and this sentence from her book completely justifies the fact that I am calling this blog, "I Hate Cheryl Strayed."

The rest of the chapter isn't worth much of anything, and honestly, I'm so disgusted right now that I can't spend one more minute of my day talking about her piece of shit book.  If I find anything worth mentioning, I'll discuss it in Part Nine.  For now, I'm through.

20 comments:

  1. Hang on, so, in the space of six months I'm supposed to believe that she tried heroin for the first time, became addicted to it, kicked that addiction, and decided to hiking now she was feeling better?

    NO.

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  2. Replies
    1. Yes, that's what you're supposed to believe. Seems probably, right? QUICK, LET'S GET IT ON OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB LIST AND MAKE A MOVIE OUT OF IT, SHE'S SUCH AN INSPIRATION.

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  3. I've never been pregnant, but I've spoken with and read books by plenty of people who have, and not one ever described it as feeling like being jabbed in the gut by tortilla chips. I suppose it could feel that way if you got to the point that the baby was actually kicking, but I don't think even Cheryl is dumb enough to miss five periods and start showing and still have it come as a shock that she might be pregnant.

    "I felt full and tingly down low, like I'd never felt before." Really, Cheryl? I thought "full and tingly down low" was your motto or something.

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  4. She mentions that large camera, and apparently she continues to carry it throughout her full "hike" as I seem to recall her mentioning it fleetingly a couple of times further in the book. But where are the pictures of her with her giant pack, her fellow hikers, the amazing vistas?

    If you search for such images online you only get the same 2-3 basic photos of her from that time (which incidentally also belie her claims of divine beauty). Shouldn't there be more "evidence" of her journey available from the numerous pictures she must have taken while hiking along? She's made a lot of money from the book and now the movie. You'd think she'd want to flesh out the record with some pictures that help tell the tale.

    Unless, of course, those pictures don't exist because they were never taken.

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    1. YES. EXACTLY. I found the same handful of pictures and came to an identical conclusion.

      I love you for saying those pictures "belie her claims of divine beauty." Cheers, friend! Welcome!

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  5. And, thus we arrive at the point of the book I fucking knew Cheryl was a liar. For, you see, an actual hiker of the PCT could point out the many, many problems with this part of her story.

    1. Cheryl wants you to believe that these knights in a van were completely agast at her wanting to hit the trail "on the side of a freeway". She spends a great deal of time suggesting that the men had to "search" for a place to drop her off. Let's get real. HWY 58 is a six lane, east-west highway between Mojave and Bakersfield. It is one of only FIVE highways that bisect the coast from the deserts of California. This has ALWAYS been a well traveled route. From Mojave to the trailhead, there were exactly three places to turn off 58 between Tehachapi and Mojave. The first would've been the cut off to 14/395 which parallels the eastern edge of the Sierras from the Antelope Valley to north Reno, NV and beyond. THe next turn off/pull off would've been the weigh station as you start the climb to Tehachapi. The third turn off? Oh well....look at that, it's an off-ramp that dumps you ON THE FUCKING TRAIL as it crosses 58 from the South (at the trail angel water site/Willow Springs Road crossing) to the trail log box about 20 yards from the place where Cheryl was dropped off. Far from being a dangerous, roadside drop off, it's a fairly large space designed as a gathering point for hikers.
    2. She bitches and moans about those first few steps with Monster on her back. That horrible, downhill 25 yards from the van to the trail log...lol.
    3. I don't think it's an accident that, by starting here, she fucking 86ed, arguably, the hardest part of the PCT. Go ahead, those that are unfamiliar, google the distance between the terminus of the PCT on the Mexican Border to Tehachapi. See all that desert and all the crests of the Angeles National Forrest? See Mt. Baden Powell and all of those tricky peaks that should separate the weak from the strong. Yeah. Strayed skipped it.
    4. Perhaps even sadder, and possibly with a purpose, Strayed avoided the part of the trail where the trail mentality and community shows itself at it's finest. She missed the Hiker Haven at Agua Dulce (practically a right of passage). She missed the Anzo Borrego, the Cleaveland National Forest, the San Jacintos, and Mt. Baden Powell. All of these places are fucking sacred for the PCT hiker. It's akin to going to Florida and not seeing everything between the keys and Orlando. But, further, it's like jumping into a high school midway through sophmore year.

    One of the ironies is that she claims to be an orphan with no one to really know her, but goes out of her way to avoid developing relationships on the trail. Hike your own hike! I get it. Whatever. But, I can't buy that anyone hiking for the first time would willingly skip out on the wisdom and advice you get from being part of the community. It's quite telling that no one really remembers Cheryl on the trail. And, fuck her for stating there were no other girls on the register. She was hitting the trail 1/3 of the way through, while most of the thru hikers were still picking their way north out of the Antelope Valley. You can't call "first" when you fucking skip ahead of the line. And, why the hell would you want to?

    Also, telling, that she inaccurately describes the terrain and the environments between this trail log and Highway 178 (Walker Pass). In fact, did she even mention Walker Pass? I found it telling, too, that the only pictures she published were within a mile of places where the trail intersects roads.

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  6. Wait, so she saved up the £3000 mentioned in the previous post from her waitressing paycheck WHILE FEEDING A HEROIN ADDICTION?

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    1. Oh, DOES THAT SEEM UNLIKELY? Think she might be full of shit?

      Welcome!

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    2. It just struck me that my response could have been interpreted in the most unpleasant manner-- I genuinely wanted to welcome you; I was not making fun.

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    3. Should could have easily got the money for all the hiking gear from selling a car, taking a loan, divorce settlement or maybe she had a bit of inheritance money (apparently her mother had died). There's lots of real world ways average people can suddenly raise a bit of cash when they need it. Heroin addicts are especially good at it, because they want to buy heroin, and not much else.

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    4. Should could have easily got the money for all the hiking gear from selling a car, taking a loan, divorce settlement or maybe she had a bit of inheritance money (apparently her mother had died). There's lots of real world ways average people can suddenly raise a bit of cash when they need it. Heroin addicts are especially good at it, because they want to buy heroin, and not much else.

      Delete
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  9. dude this is so funny i love this

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  10. My first clue about her BS was the money aspect I've never been hiking and don't know a thing about the PCT or California or mountains OR deserts. But I do visit sporting goods stores, am aware of the price tags on some of these items, and was a waitress. She not only bought all these supplies using her tips, which she states plainly in the book without reference to an inheritance, she also purchased a top of the line camera plus a plane ticket. Pretty good for a heroin user/waitress who is an "orphan" and estranged from her family who might have been a potential source of funds. This is a pricey adventure for folks who wait tables for a living while doing heavy drugs. She may or may not be a genuine hiker - I wouldn't know from experience. But she definitely did not finance this on her borderline income and her documented inability to save a nickel during her travels. Personally, I'd be hard pressed to pay for the abortion.

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  11. My first clue about her BS was the money aspect I've never been hiking and don't know a thing about the PCT or California or mountains OR deserts. But I do visit sporting goods stores, am aware of the price tags on some of these items, and was a waitress. She not only bought all these supplies using her tips, which she states plainly in the book without reference to an inheritance, she also purchased a top of the line camera plus a plane ticket. Pretty good for a heroin user/waitress who is an "orphan" and estranged from her family who might have been a potential source of funds. This is a pricey adventure for folks who wait tables for a living while doing heavy drugs. She may or may not be a genuine hiker - I wouldn't know from experience. But she definitely did not finance this on her borderline income and her documented inability to save a nickel during her travels. Personally, I'd be hard pressed to pay for the abortion.

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  12. I feel so sad that every piece of text on here is so mean and dehumanizing. I hope you all find your happiness somewhere

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  13. I just found your blog. I read WILD a few years ago and found it incredibly ridiculous and unbelievable. I've hiked sections of the PCT with a friend who is doing the whole thing in sections. While we do 14-20+ in a day, I only need a decent daypack but even I felt more experienced than her. There was nothing on TV except the movie "WILD" so wth? I put it on and started googling and found your blog. I'm laughing so hard. You put into words everything I thought when I read the book and now, saw part of the movie. All that being said, you will now be my coffee/breakfast reading till I work through all the blog posts on the chapters of the book and laugh and go "oh heck ya, even I know better than that!" I'm just a lowly dayhiker and even I know better. Don't even get me started on how many times she talks about her mom's death - as if she's the only one in the world who experienced that. Ugh. An immature adult-child for sure.

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