Monday, January 26, 2015

Part Thirty-Six of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Seventeen, Part Two: Cheryl is Everyone's Hero (excluding the guy at the cafe)

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

Part Thirty-Six, Chapter Seventeen, Part Two: Cheryl is Everyone's Hero (excluding the guy at the café)


Cheryl hikes into the Three Sisters Wilderness and of course she has to share all sorts of information she copied right out of her guidebook or off of Wikipedia or wherever.  Yet again, I refuse to dignify this nonsense.

Cheryl "I-Have-Six-Dollars-And-Twelve-Cents-To-My-Name" Strayed decides to take an unplanned detour to the Elk Lake Resort, a place mentioned in her guidebook, because her "endless hunger won out" and holy shit, the resort "had a café that served burgers."  Really?  That was in the guidebook?  Did they post the whole menu or something?

She arrives just before eleven in the morning and is the only customer in the place.  She says,

"I scanned the menu, did the math, and ordered a cheeseburger and fries and a small Coke,"

and we already know that Cheryl sucks at math so I wonder how this is going to turn out except oh wait, no, I don't.  She "sat eating them in a rapture" because of course she did.  Uh-oh!  Time to pay the bill!

"My bill was six dollars and ten cents."
Nice math skills, dumbass.  In America, there's this thing called "tipping."
 
 
Cheryl says that for the first time in her life, she couldn't leave a tip.  Given that she has, without exception, immediately blown nearly every fucking cent she's ever received within minutes of laying her grubby little hands on some money, I doubt this claim.  She doesn't feel right about leaving her last two pennies as a tip, so instead of leaving an actual tip, she leaves stamps.  STAMPS.  Postage stamps.  Are you fucking kidding me.  Cheryl, who supposedly used to work as a waitress, leaves STAMPS as a tip.  Bull.  Fucking.  Shit.  As she's leaving, she tells the man who served her that she couldn't give a tip, but says that she left him "something else," and,
 
"The man only shook his head and murmured something I couldn't make out."
I bet the words "fucking" and "asshole" were involved, and I also I don't believe that you "couldn't make that out."
 
 
She leaves in what I imagine was a hurry, heads down to the beach along Elk Lake and contemplates tossing the two pennies she has left into the lake to "make a wish" and I once again want to throttle her.
 
"I decided against it and put them in my shorts pocket, just in case I needed two cents between now and the Olallie Lake ranger station, which was still a sobering hundred miles away."

What the fuck are you going to do with two pennies in the middle of the wilderness.  What would you do with two pennies in civilization, for that matter?  I mean, thanks for not polluting the lake, but still.  Also, throwing money into water does not make wishes come true, you stupid asshole.  What the fuck is wrong with you.  Oh, wait, I forgot that you're an idiot.  My bad.

She then spends an entire paragraph talking about how her parents were poor and tries to compare herself to them and fuck you, Cheryl.  I'm positive that your mom and your step-father (and eventually your step-mother) did their absolute best to use every last penny they had to take care of you and your siblings instead of blowing everything on whatever shiny shit caught their attention like you do.  You're such an asshole.  I don't feel sorry for you.  Knowing that you got a $400,000 advance on the first fifty pages of this book also makes me not feel sorry for you, you fucking awful writer/asshole.  FUCK YOU.

She says that since she was "officially among the Three Sisters," she didn't have the trail to herself anymore and "passed day hikers and short-term backpackers"-- and also, oh, fuck me right in the face-- she encounters "a Boy Scout troop out for an overnight."  She then claims that the Boy Scout troop all apparently gathered 'round to listen to her bullshit because apparently there's a Heroin-Addict-Whore badge I'm unaware of.

"Do you have a gun?  Are you afraid? they asked in an echo of what I'd been hearing all summer."

[Goddamnit, Robin Desser.  That's not how dialogue works.  I'm so tired of this.  Cheryl clearly doesn't understand punctuation and apparently you don't, either.  Cheryl has an excuse because she's an idiot, but you are supposed to be a professional editor, so what the fuck.  Italicizing something does not equal dialogue, nor does it equal a book title, and that's been driving me up a wall for 17 chapters now.  You both suck at everything.  Also, while I'm at it, Cheryl and Robin clearly have differing opinions than I on the ongoing debate about the Oxford comma and, as it's a heated debate, I feel very passionately about the fact that they are wrong.]

So, yeah, Cheryl apparently gives an informative lecture to a whole goddamned Boy Scout troop about hiking in the wilderness and let's hope she told them how many condoms they need to pack and also how honey+sand= super good sex.  Always be prepared, kids!

Just when you think her ego can't get any bigger, BLAM, you're wrong.  She supposedly encounters a pair of men "who'd served in Iraq during Desert Storm and were still in the army," and pardon me all over the place for saying that she should have capitalized "army."  It isn't necessarily mandatory, but show some respect, you stupid asshole.  Try not capitalizing "Marines" and see how many minutes it takes before someone shows up at your house and shoots you in the head (Army people are not quite so crazy, but don't fuck with Marines... you better capitalize that shit).  Anyway, these two Army gentlemen ("both of them captains"), who were "clean-cut, strapping, and handsome," apparently just gush over how amazing she is--

"They insisted on lifting my pack and were stupefied to find that it was heavier than either of theirs."

Goddamnit.  You know what?  First, this is all bullshit that never happened, so I really shouldn't be getting as angry as I'm getting.  Let's pretend, though, just for giggles, that she did actually encounter two Army gentlemen.  Let's also pretend that they "insisted" on lifting her pack, which they didn't.  I'm an Army veteran and if I stumbled upon you in the wilderness, my immediate reaction would not be, "OMG, LEMME SEE HOW MUCH YOUR PACK WEIGHS, CAN I PICK IT UP?"  That's just stupid.  Then again, this is Special Snowflake Cheryl, so of course we're supposed to believe this bullshit because in Cheryl's mind, encountering her in the wilderness is pretty much the same as finding Jesus in your lint filter, or Muhammad in your dishwasher, or Xenu in your glove compartment and you should immediately fall to your knees and start worshiping because of course you fucking should.  Second, since we're pretending that this all happened because hey, why not, everyone else believes this shit and maybe the Kool-Aid is delicious, let's go ahead and suspend reality for a moment to indulge in Cheryl's fantasies except let's not.  The fact that they were "stupefied to find that it was heavier than either of theirs" in reality-speak translates into, "They thought I was a fucking idiot carrying far too much useless crap."  THAT'S WHY THEY WERE STUPEFIED, CHERYL, NOT BECAUSE YOU'RE SO AMAZING.

A friend of mine told me once that she had a secret fantasy about being out in a club or at a wedding or basically just in some public place where music was being played and the fantasy went something like this: she would start dancing and her dance moves would be so incredible that everyone else would stop dancing and form the inevitable Circle of Admirers that you see in the movies, watch in amazement as she danced and then applaud insanely upon the end of her routine.  This friend, while I love her so much, can't really dance and when she attempts to do so, there's a lot of stumbling and running into walls and falling down.  Anyway, it was a secret fantasy that I'm pretty sure she was embarrassed to admit.  With all that said, Cheryl doesn't seem to understand that her secret fantasies should stay secret and that she should be embarrassed about them instead of trying to make them into a reality.  Everyone gathered around her outside the store in Ashland to marvel over her awesomeness.  Some random Swiss lady insisted on massaging her feet.  Everyone is super impressed with her.  The Boy Scout troop apparently sat in a circle to learn from her.  Firefighters couldn't even believe she was doing what she was doing.  Two Army gentlemen were astounded with her... it goes on and on and on and all she's doing is writing out all of her fantasies as if they actually happened AND PEOPLE ARE BELIEVING THIS SHIT.

Oh, anyway.

The two Army gentlemen, who had "hauled" two cans of beer for five whole days to drink in celebration of hiking five whole days, leave a gift for Cheryl.

"'Hey, Cheryl,' one of them turned to holler once he was almost out of sight on the trail. 'We left one of our beers for you in the creek.  We did it this way so you can't say no.  We want you to have it 'cause you're tougher than us.'"

No, wrong.  No soldiers would ever say this unless they either 1) were just trying to encourage a random dumbass or 2) were the make-believe soldiers in Cheryl's fucked up mind.  Unfuckingbelievable.

She goes down to the creek to drink the one beer and I'm sure she gets totally wasted of off it.

She keeps hiking the next day--

"I walked over McKenzie Pass into the Mount Washington Wilderness, and the trail became rockier still as I crossed the basalt flows of Belknap Crater and Little Belknap." 

--and she makes a big deal out of describing the rocks because she wants all of this to sound legitimate.  I could Google the shit out of the PCT and probably come up with more believable lies than Cheryl.

Blah, blah, blah, she hikes some more, describes the weather and I don't care at this point.  She finally finds a place to camp for the night and,

"In the time it took to pitch my tent and filter a bottle of water with my insufferably slow water purifier, the wind started up again in great violent gasps, whipping the branches of the trees overhead."

Oh, for Christ's sake, she says that she's "never been in a mountain storm," reminds herself to not be afraid and I can't even anymore.

Nothing happens because Cheryl has never been in a mountain storm in her fantasy world and therefore doesn't know how to describe one.  Because of this, the storm just disappears.  She hears "coyotes yipping in the distance, as if they were celebrating the fact that the coast was clear," and I didn't realize that you were the Coyote Whisperer, just shut the fuck up.

She goes outside to pee and "two bright pairs of eyes gazed back" at her and whatever, sure, I bet it was Bigfoot.

"I never found out whose they were.  An instant later they were gone."

So am I.

38 comments:

  1. YASSSSI was so excited to see the next installment! My favorite line from this chapter:
    "and also, oh, fuck me right in the face"
    and really, teaching Boy Scouts about hiking?? This woman is disgusting.

    This really reminds me of Eat Pray Love which I couldn't even get through the first chapter. Another story about a self absorbed whore who ruins her marriage and runs away from life. I nominate that book next for you to review. ;)





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    1. Erin - I had the same reaction! I had sort of a visceral aversion to the whole premise of Wild based on my brief encounter with Eat Pray Love. When did self absorption and running away from problems become a "thing?"
      I am enjoying this laugh out loud snark of a blog / review, though. Far more enjoyable than reading that tripe.
      Well done, Califohioan!

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    2. I didn't read EPL but I saw part of the movie on a long flight & I hated it.

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  2. Cheryl got a beer because the Barefoot Sisters got a beer in their book and no way was super-shady-n'-self-centered-Cheryl NOT going to have someone give her a beer too. Only her beer came from two super-awesome military guys and not a couple of geeky professors, so her beer was way better.

    The constant references to people being amazed and awed by her pack is a deliberate rip-off of how everyone reacted to the Barefoot Sisters on their hike of the AT. Of course the sisters' story is actually non-fiction and there are numerous photos of them on the trail as well as documentation on the forums as to their progress when they were doing it.

    Their book is a great read after the mindless clap-trap of Wild. You can tell how she deliberately lifted bits and pieces from Southbound and Bryson's Walk in the Woods.

    F you Cheryl. cow cow cow

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    1. I'm so tired (=demolished, shattered, gutted...) that all I can do is laugh hysterically about how you ended that with, "cow cow cow."

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  3. You know, when you lay out all those instances of people fawning over Cheryl, it really just makes the book sound like a fan-fiction of her own life. Every preteen girl has done that. "Ermagerd, like, I'll write myself into my favorite story and I'll fall in love with my favorite character and they'll think I'm so awesome because I'll have all these super powers and be beautiful and have this dark past that makes everyone feel so bad for me and everyone will want to be me. I'm such a genius!" Cheryl is her own Mary Sue.

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    1. Great point Alyssa. I think a lot of this came out of her time writing anonymously as "Sugar" and presented herself as an authority on every type of angsty or painful situation. Then she was free to make up any sort of backstory for herself and no one could refute any of it. By the time she started writing the book I think she was in the full throes of a narcissistic personality disorder.

      It was amusing to see how many times she had to answer questions about whether or not she made up the questions she was answering as Sugar.

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    2. *and* she's her own boy, lest we forget...

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    3. Does this mean that she smears honey and sand on her dildo/vibrator? I don't understand how any of this works.

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    4. "Let's have a seaside honey fantasia" has now become codeword between the husband and I for Doin' It.

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    5. My friend's husband has taken to rhyming things with "pudenda" during their bedroom talk.

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    6. I think you've hit the nail on the head, Mercer. I had never heard of her until this stupid book, so last week I looked up a Sugar article. She is her own biggest fan and does believe she is the center of everyone's existence.

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  4. .....like finding Jesus in your lint filter..... LOLOLOLOLOL !!!!

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    1. A friend of mine called me profound, and I wanted to bitch slap him.

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  5. I remember my response when reading that line about the military guys telling her that she was tougher than them. I thought "No... just no." Nobody could read this book and believe for a second that two active-duty Army officers who had served in a war zone could encounter this dim bulb and make such a statement.

    I could buy that they might offer up words of encouragement, much like one might encourage a child with empty words of praise, but they aren't going to lie right to her face like that. They certainly aren't going to elevate her above their own level of hard-earned competence. Of course, since we all know this encounter never really happened it is a moot point. But she could at least attempt to make her made-up story believable.

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    1. Same here. If any "military" guys actually said that to her, I'm willing to bet that they were trying to get lucky.
      I mean, think about it- even in 1996, there were women in the military and a requisite activity for all military personnel is t o carry a large pack. We're supposed to believe that, after watching women in th e military carry rucksacks, fellow soldiers, and really heavy weapons into warplanes (Operation Desert Storm, even).... Cheryl is their mother fucking idol? Bull.

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  6. love it and you are right her mother could work for food for her horses but to poor to by cool aid but her step dad worked his ass off to give them a life and lettermen jackets and cars and ins and prom dresses and any thing they wanted I hate how she just leaves her older sister out of all memory and how great she is was and always will be thank you for seeing her bull shit at its face value I have read every thing she writes and it is all the same ME ME ME

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  7. I have a feeling her older sister is the normal one in the family.

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  8. http://www.missourireview.com/archives/bbarticle/munro-country/

    So according to Cheryl, Nobel laureate Alice Munro once encouraged Cheryl in her writing. Does anyone else find this hard to believe? Pretty bold thing to lie about, but then again it's Cheryl.

    Notice that the article is OF COURSE almost entirely about Cheryl. As if Munro existed and wrote stories just for how they would affect HER. Ugh.

    Cheryl ruins everything.

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    1. What Nobel Laureate DOESN'T encourage people in their beloved craft? I mean, seriously, do you think Shakespeare or Hemingway or even J.K. Rowling would approach anyone and say, "you know, writing as an art is totally over rated and I think we have enough writers to get by on. So, you should probably stop writing."?

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    2. If I were a Nobel Laureate, I would say something like that, but only to Cheryl.

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    3. Alice didn't approach Cheryl, it was the other way around. Cheryl wrote to her and Alice wrote back. Lots of writers ignore such letters so I guess we are meant to believe that Alice Munro was so impressed with Cheryl's early work that she *had* to write back to encourage her.

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  9. Perfect sum up comment, to all of this: "Cheryl ruins everything." The one good thing that happened is that we have this blog and we have all met each other. Thanks to Erin!

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  10. Loving your reviews. I look forward to them!

    The thing that gives this away as a piece of fiction to me is that Cheryl made the same mistake that all new authors make. Her main character is a Mary-Sue. This happens when the author is in love with their main character and wants everyone else to be too. So, instead of making them a real person with flaws and 3 dimensions, they TELL the reader how to feel by making every other character love their Mary-Sue.

    So, every other woman character is a bitch that secretly wants to BE Mary-Sue, and every man wants to have sex with Mary-Sue. And EVERY charcter tells Mary-Sue how awesome/amazing/pretty/smart/funny, etc. she is.

    Nothing bad ever happens to a Mary-Sue. Ever. And Mary-Sue's rarely have a real character arc.

    So, while I don't doubt the truth of Cheryl's struggle or pain over her mother's death, EVERY OTHER ASPECT of this story rings blatantly FALSE to me because she wrote herself as Mary-sue.

    Laughing at this definition from Wiki - In fan fiction, a Mary Sue or, in case of a male character, Gary Stu is an idealized character, often but not necessarily an author insert and/or wish-fullfillment.

    Cheryl is her own biggest fan and this story is clearly and author insert AND wish fulfillment!

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    1. Yup. In my Goodreads review of Wild (from 2012! And I still hate this book!) I referred to it as Mary Sue Goes on a Nature Walk. It is the most egregious example of Mary-Sueism I've ever seen in all of writing, and that includes fanfiction. The fact that this is allegedly memoir and not fiction only makes its Sueism all the more staggering.

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  11. Here's another instance about how weird and crazy people have gotten about "wild". I mentioned earlier that I had commented on another blog written by a guy calling himself "pmags" or Paul Mags. On his blog, I am GranolaGirl. He disagrees with and insults nearly everyone who doesn't agree with him on his thread & deleted one of my comments (a response to Roger). Yesterday, I saw that someone else commented, agreeing with me (Willmo). Pmags got his panties in a bunch & responded to Willmo.
    Willmo on January 27, 2015 at 1:58 pm said:
    I’ve gotta go with granolagirl, Paul. The story’s shot through with fiction that just doesn’t ring true. If someone shoots heroin for a few months then they’ve got a monkey on their back; they don’t just stop. If someone straps half-again their body weight onto their back then they won’t hump themselves into shape, they’ll get injured (if they stick to the trail). And the list goes on. It’s “A Million Little Pieces” all over again. Sometimes you’ve got to call a spade a spade, and when you market fiction as non-fiction then it’s fibbing. I’m surprised that she hasn’t been outed, like Frey.

    Paul Magson January 27, 2015 said:
    GG was making accusations against Roger and not Cheryl. GG’s remarks were caustic, slanderous, belligerent, rude and not called for.
    If GG expressed her opinions in your polite manner, they’d still be there.
    Personally, I don’t care if Cheryl is lying or not. I have too much of a life of my own to really care. What I do care about is polite discourse when someone is a guest in my house. Esp so when the attacks are against a person who reads and posts on my website

    I commented last night to Pmags saying I had not called Roger a liar, I was simply responding to his question about comparing our hikes & that by his own admission, he didn't hike with Cheryl and his spending time with her proved nothing. I told Pmags that he was actually slandering me! Today, I checked to see if he posted my comment & found that he had hacked my computer to redirect to a 10 hour Youtube video when I try to go to his site (I believe it is Pmags.com). Pretty crazy!

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    1. Report the hack to WordPress. His blog is powered through WP and their Terms of Service prohibit redirection or hacking. I'm not quite sure he could use their platform to redirect you specifically...but, if he has a web master, I guess it might be possible. Try logging out or using a different device/computer. If it's only YOUR logged in account that is redirected, WP will sanction him. They take that shit seriously ever sincesome high profile bloggers redirected dissenting opinions to porn or virus sites last year. Also, remember that the people who are more adamantly defending Cheryl are people who are directing their readers to buy the book as a click thru to Amazon. They're making money.

      Pmags was a respected blogger for thru hikers, at one point. He still has good advice. But, when he monetized his site and got sponsors, he started getting an inflated ego. Pmags is so hypocrite for accusing commenters of spending time outing Cheryl because HE has outed a few people in the past and he spends hours producing self-serving blog and magazine posts.

      Roger is actually a victim in this circumstance. He is the one person who Cheryl can point to as "proof" and she's making sure he's being rewarded for backing her up. I'm sure they genuinely like each other and he has hung out with her at Hollywood events. I actually think it's particularly important that her only witnessed never hiked with her.... he rode on a bus and camped with her. Smart people can read between the lines.

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    2. Thanks for the information & advice, Tori!. I will contact WordPress. I still receive emails from his site when new comments are added and I am able to read those comments on email. I saw your very well-stated and wise comments to Pmags, this morning. Thank you...you are really amazing!

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    3. My post on his site was removed, by him, I suspect.

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  12. The amount of time and anger you have to dedicate towards this is funny.

    Lady wrote a book, lots of people enjoyed it.

    Calm down.

    Bring out the pitchforks ladiessssss, grab your torches, and file those nails good and sharp. Heaven forbid someone made a profit from elaborating a story (gasp) that's never been done before!

    Your writing is as obnoxious as Sarah Silvermans comedy ( I'm sure you will take that as a compliment)

    You are a powerless troll just like the other hundreds of thousands griping about other pointless trash.

    Your life as a human seems more pointless than a honey and sand encrusted dildo.

    Namaste

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    1. I like how you ended all that fuckery with "namaste."

      I wish I had more time to discuss your very important opinion, but I'm busy *hiking across America right now*, which I'm sure seems really pointless to someone as amazing as you.

      Keep leaving comments on super old blog posts. You're crushing it.

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    2. And yet again, someone stops by to tell you how childish your comments are by posting sentences like "your life as a human seems more pointless than a honey and sand encrusted dildo." Sweetie, your "moral highground" is about 250 feet below sea-level.

      BTW, you might want to work on your comedy. Honey? What does that add? Sand encrusted? That would make it chaffing, not pointless. You should have said "...more pointless than a jell-o dildo." In the future, run your insults by me first for some editing.

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    3. The thing I am noticing about these new posts besides the spurious moralizing is how none of them ever address a specific point made in the blog. This all seems somewhat suspiciously synchronized.

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    4. Yeah--I hope you guys keep crushing Cheryl---I've pasted m own comment on yours Mercer as well as a previous one here in an earlier excerpt. Unfortunately Cheryl made a lot of money as a stolen valor candidate for the thru hiker. I hiked in 2012 end to end and made it. It was my second attempt as after 2007 miles in 2010 I went off trail due to injury and ran out of time to clear Washington. And I have a memoir in the editing stages---which I didn't start to write until. . . I don't know. . . I actually HIKED THE PCT!!!
      But whether someone wrote a book like "Dancing With Marmots" or just hiked it.. . this entire Wild rave is a slap in the face to all of us thru hikers.
      And to the twit way above in the reply? Cheryl didn't just exaggerate dearie. . . she made the whole thing up largely based on completing not even half a trail. If she was ever even on it then it was a summer easy section hiking adventure with plenty of rest, never 25 mile days like the rest of us and skipping the hard parts at her leisure. And since she has made so many mistakes about the topography in her "recount" we doubt she was ever even on it to begin with.

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    5. Yeah--I hope you guys keep crushing Cheryl---I've pasted m own comment on yours Mercer as well as a previous one here in an earlier excerpt. Unfortunately Cheryl made a lot of money as a stolen valor candidate for the thru hiker. I hiked in 2012 end to end and made it. It was my second attempt as after 2007 miles in 2010 I went off trail due to injury and ran out of time to clear Washington. And I have a memoir in the editing stages---which I didn't start to write until. . . I don't know. . . I actually HIKED THE PCT!!!
      But whether someone wrote a book like "Dancing With Marmots" or just hiked it.. . this entire Wild rave is a slap in the face to all of us thru hikers.
      And to the twit way above in the reply? Cheryl didn't just exaggerate dearie. . . she made the whole thing up largely based on completing not even half a trail. If she was ever even on it then it was a summer easy section hiking adventure with plenty of rest, never 25 mile days like the rest of us and skipping the hard parts at her leisure. And since she has made so many mistakes about the topography in her "recount" we doubt she was ever even on it to begin with.

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  13. Hey, I just saw the movie Wild the other day and ran across your blog. I've been staying up late at nights laughing at your blog and I'm glad to see you're still commenting while walking across the country. I guess Cheryl laughed all the way to the bank, but what a way to ruin your credibility by fabricating stories. Either Cheryl did not consider how her book would affect her future or did not care. But karma has a way of bitch slapping you in the face eventually. Anyway, I hope you're enjoying your cross country journey and good luck.

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    1. Thanks! I'm currently off the trail for a couple weeks due to a dislocated joint, collapsed arch and nerve damage all in my right foot-- because real hikers get real injuries. But I'm sure Cheryl hiking over 1,000 miles on uneven terrain while carrying an 80-pound pack and wearing flip-flops duct-taped to her feet without suffering even one injury is totally legit. Pffffffft.

      Thanks for the comment! You're giving me a reason to smile while I'm healing.

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