Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bonus Segment: A Word For All the Cheryl Fans


Readers--
 
It's been brought to my attention that admirers of Cheryl's book-- and possibly even Cheryl herself-- have been made aware of this blog.  Today, a guest writer will respond to the concerns of these people because I shouldn't be trusted with this task.
 
I-- the author of this blog-- own the fact that I am a giant douchebag.  The whole purpose behind starting this blog was to amuse (what I imagined would only be) a handful of my friends by pointing out inconsistencies in Cheryl's story in an entertaining manner and to make fun of Cheryl's terrible writing.  Full disclosure: I hate this book and I think Cheryl Strayed is a narcissistic sociopath (as well as a pathological liar and an awful writer). 
 
That said, for this installment, Tori will be a guest writer.  She intends to address all of the problems with this book in a thoughtful, logical and respectful manner.  This is for the benefit of people who enjoyed the book and feel that all criticism of the book is unfounded and simply rooted in jealousy or elitism.  I've read what Tori has written and I can assure you, she writes nothing in an insulting manner.  She is honest, direct and respectful.  She is not "bashing" Cheryl.  She has some legitimate concerns and she addresses them in a calm, diplomatic way.
 
For all of the people who enjoyed Cheryl's book, this is for you.  Please read Tori's post and come to your own conclusions.
 
--Califohioan
 
 
 
When WILD, by Cheryl Strayed, was released in 2012, I was excited.  As an avid long distance hiker with ties to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), I couldn't wait to read WILD.  I imagined it would be similar to some of the other, spectacular PCT trail journals that were available.  I devoured ZERO DAY (Egbert) and BLISTERED KIND OF LOVE (Ballard).  I read Bill Bryson's Appalachian Trail book, A WALK IN THE WOODS, and other long distance hiking publications.  There are so many of them!  Most of them are written by people who have jobs other than "author, " but the stories were so descriptive and inspiring, it didn't seem to matter.  I pre-ordered WILD and the day it arrived, I packed a day pack and hiked up to my favorite peak to read it.  

I was immediately disappointed.  But, more than that,...this book just didn't sit right.  There were, as Iggy might say, "99 problems".  For the sake of brevity, I'll winnow it down to ten.  Keep in mind, none of these reasons are in any way related to jealousy or the "hater" mentality.  Remember, I wanted to love this book!  

1.  DISTANCES HIKED- If you haven't read WILD, please read it.  While you're reading, keep a pen and paper handy.  Cheryl starts out with very detailed trail notes and mileage.  In fact, she claims to have only hiked four miles on the first day.  The next day, she takes a zero day,  The next day, she hikes eight miles.  Day four is another zero day.  Day five is 9 miles.  So, in five days, she walked 21 miles.  But, the descriptions of where she is do not remotely resemble the environments the trail reached at those mile markers.  In fact, there are blatant discrepancies throughout the book between the distances she claimed to have hiked and the pace at which she does it.  As is this first few chapters of the book, you have these bizarre, lazy, zero days in places with little to no available water and every reason to hustle through.  But, Cheryl's experience seems, in every way, contrary to long distance hiking.  Furthermore, after only hiking 21 miles by day five, day nine finds her over 100 miles away despite another zero day.  

2.  DISTANCES SKIPPED-  If I tell you I hiked the John Muir Trail in yo-yo fashion, you might rightly assume I hiked the entirety of the trail - first one way, then hitting the terminus and returning over the same route.  In the hiking world, the terms "thru hike" and "yo-yo" are words in a simple language that convey a greater meaning.  So, when I read the promos for WILD, it was originally labeled, by Mrs. Strayed, as a "PCT thru hike" and, in some cases, she accepted and used the label of "PCT thru hiker".  For those who do not know, a thru hike is a hike from terminus to terminus.  In this case, the Southern Terminus would be the Mexican border (or, as close as you can legally get) and the Northern Terminus would be the Canadian Border.  Unless you have, somehow, hiked the entire distance between those two points, YOU ARE NOT A THRU HIKER.  You might say you're a section hiker or did long portions of the trail, but you are not a thru hiker.  I think many people fail to realize that Mrs. Strayed only hiked 1/3 of the trail.  Of the other 2/3s, I have heard her repeatedly claim that "no one hiked the high Sierras that year between Kennedy Meadows and Donner Pass" due to snow.  That is untrue.  Yes.  At the time Cheryl approached that particular section, there was a snow pack and many hikers skipped it, with the intention of coming back through when the snow had melted.  This is actually a common tactic to get around bad weather.  Cheryl skipped approximately 450 miles of the trail by skipping this section.  Add that to the 557 miles she skipped from Mexico to Tehachapi and Cheryl has skipped over a thousand miles of trail before it left California. What she did do, for reasons to be explained below, is suspect.  So, what are we left with?

3.  YELLOW BLAZING - If you take other means, besides putting one foot in front of the other, you do not get to count it as "hiked".  So, despite telling multiple media sources that she hiked the length of California, the reality is that, even giving Cheryl the benefit of the doubt, the majority of California was skipped or yellow blazed.  Yellow Blazing refers to the yellow lines down the middle of a road and generally refers to the practice of using a vehicle to skip large trail sections.  In California, we know she Yellow Blazed more than 600 miles.  This was calculated using her own distances and stories.  You can't get into a car and bum a ride around sections of the trail and then count it.  In Oregon, for example, she coyly refers to Yellow Blazing large chunks and then stops giving any semblance of days covered or distance.  

4.  POOR PREPARATION - It's been said before, but needs to be said again.  What Cheryl did was gravely irresponsible!  She not only put her own life in danger -which would have been bad enough - but, had she been unable to self rescue or unlucky- her carelessness could've meant loss of life or injury to first responders.  This has been downplayed so much as to be remarkable.  I've seen countless blogs where people, generally non-hikers, suggest that the message Cheryl has to give and the answers she needed to obtain were worth the risk...and, shockingly, even some seasoned hikers excusing her poor planning by suggesting that getting on the trail is more important than planning.  This is dangerous!  ANY HIKER, "DAY", "SECTION", or "LONG DISTANCE" should expect and prepare for the worst.  You have a responsibility to plan your route(s) and carry the right materials to self rescue or care for yourself until you can be rescued.  Cheryl admits that she didn't plan this beyond making a few trips to REI and purchasing trail journals that she quickly throws out.  Carrying a "monster" backpack may make for a good story and inspire sympathy from readers unfamiliar with hiking, but any reasonable hiker would admit that Cheryl SHOULD HAVE, and had no reason not to, ATTEMPT SEVERAL SHORT HIKES WITH HER BACKPACK before ever hitting the PCT.  Her inability to stand upright or balance aren't cute or funny.  Hitting the trail without prepping was stupid. PERIOD.  The learning curve is death or injury.  And, yes, Cheryl claimed, up until very recently, that she had had no experience hiking before this.  If, as she claims now, she did have experience- then one would imagine she would have known the boots were too small and the pack was too heavy before she hit Mojave.

5.  SAFETY - There is absolutely no excuse for some of the risks Cheryl took and there's no good reason to play it off as anything but reckless.  Hitchhiking is a common way to get from hotel to trail in the hiking world. But, you don't just jump into any random car to get there.  There are other ways.  Towns on the PCT know about the PCT and many of the hotels know that hikers need rides and will take time to get you where you need to be.  This has been the case since the late 80's.  GETING INTO CARS WITH MEN OFFERING DRUGS is ridiculously foolish.  DIPPING INTO THE DRUG STASHES OF MEN LIVING IN MILK VANS IS DANGEROUS.  I've heard many people excuse this behavior by pointing out that Cheryl made it out okay and that risks not taken make for a boring life.  OK.  Fair enough.  How many of you would tell your daughters to do what Cheryl did?  Except for creating a better story, there's no excuse for the risks Cheryl took.  This leads to the next point...

6.  HIKING ALONE - Aside from being incredibly foolish, Cheryl's constant insistence to hike between "hubs" can be seen as evasive.  It's intriguing that the only witness who has come forward to verify Cheryl's presence on the trail has been the man she yellow blazed with- not someone she hiked with.  Where are The Young Bucks?  Where are the women she met and "hop scotched" over the trail with?  Where are the rangers she met?  Hiking alone can be a freeing experience and there's merit in knowing that you can do it by yourself.  I encourage solo hiking...but, what Cheryl did was actively avoid the regular hiking crowd.  It's almost neurotic how often she chose hiking alone and for multiple days without seeing another person...unless they added a strange twist to her story.  There is no one who can say they hiked more than 10 miles with Cheryl in 1996.  I hate comparing that to my own experience, but it needs to be said: I can point to at least thirty people who I got to know on my JMT yo-yo.  You might not hike with them all day, but you definitely run into them in the evenings or you catch up to them one day only for them to catch up to you another.  This is how the trail community is built and long term friendships are created.  

Hiking alone guarantees that your story can't be questioned.  No witnesses means no denials.   I can't prove Cheryl didn't hike the whole trail.  I also can't prove Big Foot isn't out there.  I can't prove that your version of events is false if you actively avoid sharing that experience with me. Most hikers thrive on the exchange of information and, even when trying to learn about themselves, end up part of a larger event.  But, aside from the one man, no one has come forward to share their experiences with Cheryl.

7.  PORTRAYAL OF ETHNICITIES - It's hard for me to write this, but one of the things that stuck out to me was the manner in which Cheryl describes the people around her.  I do not want to put words in her mouth, so read her book and regard the manner in which she describes people and assigns weight to that description.  

8.  MARY SUE- One of the characterizations in literature is that of the Mary Sue.  The Mary Sue is almost always the protagonist and is held in awe by the people she meets.  She is golden.  Even her bad choices are viewed with a rosy filter.  Cheryl became her own Mary Sue.  Thru hikers do assign trail names to one another.  It's practically a rite of passage and is, usually, looked forward to.  Contrary to what has been said, I've never seen a group of hikers brand a hiker with a truly unfortunate name with bad intent.  That said, there is no way anyone would crown someone "Queen of the PCT", especially when that someone didn't hike the whole trail.  It strains credulity.  It's a very "Mary Sue" thing.  Furthermore, a group of seasoned PCT hikers, after months on the trail, wouldn't be shocked by Cheryl's hike or her pack. Everyone's out there for the same purpose, if not the same reason: to hike.  Big packs and feet problems are par for the course.  The adoration of Cheryl seems particularly large...especially coming from people doing the exact same thing as she is.  There were other women.  There were other hikers.  

9.  INCONSISTENCIES - A man pulls Cheryl aside and interviews her for a Hobo Magazine.  Strangely, this interview never makes it to print and is only ever mentioned by Cheryl, about Cheryl.  Calls to the past owner of the publication state that no one was in that area writing for them at that time.  Ever the Mary Sue, Cheryl is offended that he sees her as a hobo instead of the "AMAZON QUEEN" she thinks she is....but, uses the experience in her book despite it being completely unverifiable.  The bow hunters, in Oregon, in August, that made her feel threatened because they looked at her and implied that she had a desirable figure.  That's quite strange considering that bow hunters don't carry cans of Pepsi and would be unable to hunt in Oregon at that time of year (nor would they want to) due to permit issues and hunting laws. Any bow hunter who took a deer before October 7th, 1996 would've been handed a hefty fine. One can say that perhaps they weren't hunting deer...but, it's not just deer that was out of season.  Perhaps they were practicing...but, you don't need to hike out into the wilderness to practice.  Every excuse leads to a further complication.  And, frankly, without slut shaming, why does sexual attraction that she clearly went after and relished suddenly turn into a dangerous thing.  Which is more dangerous?  Two hunters who admire your figure or a man offering you alcohol and drugs who wants to drive you three hours from where you want to be in a strange car?  For someone so at home with the outdoors and hikers and other people on the trail, the people who are EXPECTED scare her more than the real threats?  On the topic of drugs- a habitual heroin user who takes to the trail to detox is not only stupid, but is putting other lives in danger.  Did Cheryl consider how much time, money, and potential harm might have been done to those who might have had to pull her dead body out of the wilderness because she had a bad detox?  How could she hike and carry a pack while experiencing the hellish pain and sickness that detoxing from a daily habit brings?  Or, was she such a Mary Sue that she didn't experience detox?   These are just three inconsistencies.  This blog details at least thirty... I encourage you to read the comments.  While each one can be written off individually...can they all be written off in totality?  

10.  CHERYL AS A HERO - Mrs. Strayed has obviously struck a chord with people.  There's something about her story that resonates with people and I can't deny that.  Her acknowledgement of poor choices and ultimate self-apology and acceptance may appeal to some people and, at first glance, it appealed to me.  WHAT IF our choices didn't define us for the rest of our life? WHAT IF all of those bad things shaped you to be a better person.  WHAT IF they gave you more compassion and a better understanding of the world.  These are all NOBLE and ACCEPTABLE lessons to learn.  But, sell the book as that!  Cheryl could've had these revelations in a mall or in the safety of her home.  She could've done a series of weekend hikes and it wouldn't have made the lessons less profound or valuable.  So, with that in mind, it begs the question why this book is sold as a trail journal that just happens to give the writer redemption in her own eyes?  I don't know the answer to that.  But, I do know this.  I do not want my nieces following Cheryl's example.  Not because she slept around or did drugs.  That's just life and while I don't want my nieces to get into the things Cheryl found herself in, I also acknowledge the imperfection of life and how we often regret the mistakes of our youth and grow from them.  So, no... that's not the problem. The problem is that Cheryl only apologizes to herself.  Her self acceptance comes at a cost to the people she hurt and waved off with the attitude that "well, what if the pain made them better".  There's no way to make that stand up ethically.   If I harm someone, even without purposefully meaning to, I owe them an apology.  I don't get to apologize to myself and write off the wrongs.  I want the young women I know to take ownership of their choices and apologize when they've wronged someone.  The action of apologizing brings about a sense of responsibility and compassion that you don't get by self absolution.  I also don't see her behaviors on the trail as admirable.  There are other female hikers who are more "Bad Ass" and courageous than Cheryl.   I think it's a mistake to hold her up as an example of the right way to hike and the right way to go about self acceptance.

These are just ten reasons to question the veracity and message of the book.  Before you dismiss someone as a hater, ask yourself why they hate.  Is it jealousy?  Or, is there merit to their concerns?  I invite Cheryl to explain away some of these issues.  Unlike other places, discussion is encouraged here.  READ THE BOOK CRITICALLY.
 
 
 
Many, many thanks to Tori for writing this.  I'm honored to have her as a guest writer.
 
Please feel free to post your comments about this post without apprehension.  We welcome sane, intelligent discussion and will not be disrespectful of your opinion.  We may disagree with you-- and that's okay.  People can and are allowed to disagree and can do so without name-calling or insults.  If, however, you are disrespectful or incapable of reason, we will destroy you.  Be advised.
 
Hugs and kisses,
Califohioan

37 comments:

  1. Does this blog have an inflammatory title? Sure, you could say that. Others who have been considered bold for speaking up over the years: abolitionists. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sojourner Truth. Patrick Henry. Zola in the Dreyfus Affair. Nelson Mandela. Jesus. I could go on. Anyway, this blogger has actually rather carefully (albeit amusingly) deconstructed precisely what is wrong with Cheryl Strayed's writing, self-centeredness, fabrications, exaggerations, misguidedness, mistakes, and foolhardy actions. The focus has been on the writing. Wild, like any other published book, is fair game for criticism. Furthermore, a previous entry explicitly states this blogger's compassion as a human being and that she would, had she encountered Cheryl on the trail in bad shape singing the Doublemint gum commercial song, have helped her out. Any comment along the lines of "can you just go away and rot now please" is both a)clearly part of the sardonic tone here and b)easily outnumbered by the "kill me now" comments. I can understand that without thinking or reading the whole blog someone might be inclined to react to seeing this blog with a shocked "What's-with-all-the-hate?" reaction, but I assure you that's not what's happening. This is a well thought out takedown of some writing and bluster that need to be critiqued. This is the time when everyone who likes to jabber about free speech & expression (incl but not limited to in the contexts of Bill of Rights, Charlie Hebdo, "lamestream" media, slamming China even though you've never been there, etc etc.) should put their money where their mouths are and welcome the expression on this blog.

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  2. I just reviewed chapter 4 and 5, which covers the first few days of Cheryl's hike, and I do not see where she took any zero days until meeting Frank and friends on the road. She left the trail on day eight, and she indicated she averages 9 miles a day, so not counting day one where she only hiked about 4 miles, she was approximately 60 miles into section F when she left the trail and headed down the road, probably at bird springs pass. She ends up taking 2 zeros (one in Ridgecrest and then gets a ride to Walker Pass and camps there), then hikes the 49 miles to Kennedy Meadows, takes a few zeros there, then hikes about 40 miles to trail pass where she exits the trail to bypass the snow. I'm just sayin your version of what happened doesn't seem to match what is actually written in the book...

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    1. Cheryl says her first day was from Hwy 58 to an elevation of 6000 feet and that she's decided to camp in a Valley with visible windmills and small cactus with Joshua Trees. I hike this section at least once a month and can tell you that that particular point, the only point at which those things, at that elevation, are visible is about 4 miles. Based on her entries on the trail register, she didn't hit the next point for three days. At that point, that trail register was 9.9 miles from where she started. Thus, she either took a zero day after poking her foot with the cactus or she camped about a mile down the trail the second night to be at the elevation she claims for the second night and within the reach of the water source that existed. Not too mention, the only permissible grazing for Watusi Cattle was much further down the trail, just before Walker Pass, and using that...the math doesn't add up with the book. I'm from the area and those cattle were a common site....on the road, OFF the trail. There's also the problem of precipitation and "freezing, cold enough to make socks ice" problem. There was no temperature anywhere near 42 degrees...even at night, even at the elevations she was dealing with. The National Weather Service has maintained very careful records and has literally hundreds of weather stations (not to mention that every wind turbine takes a reading of barometric pressure, wind speed, and precipitation) on the portion of trail Cheryl claims were freezing in late June between 58 and Ridgecrest. It just didn't happen. Again, the miles don't work. Either her descriptions of the for circumstances are exaggerated or the mileage is fictitious and should be tossed. Funny enough- I wouldn't begrudge her a zero day after such a rough , detoxing transition with a "monster pack".

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    2. I'm looking at the book right now, on her first day she reaches the level spot with the Joshua trees and camps (I know that spot), then on day two she reaches 6000 ft elevation, but doesn't make it to Golden Oak Spring. I have also hiked that section, I'm not seeing the inconsistencies, sorry but you are going to have to come up with something better. Hating Cheryl is one thing, proving she lied is another. I've suspected the book is a lot of exaggeration since I first read it in 2012. I did find one lie that can be proven, though its a small one; she claims the ski pole she got out of the hiker box in Kennedy Meadows had a pink strap...there is a photo on her face book page, the one with her and one of the three young bucks (look in the photo archives), the ski pole is in her hand and the strap is white, not pink. It's a minor thing, but why did she feel she needed to lie about such a minor thing?
      As far as many articles referring to her as a thru hiker, hell a lot of the stories have her hiking the Pacific Coast Trail, you cant hold her at fault for the mistakes of the reporters. I saw a utube video of one of her appearances, she starts by stating she DIDNT hike the whole trail and also mentions that many people have hiked the whole thing.

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    3. You know I JUST noticed the pink strap discrepancy yesterday and didnt have time to bring it up.

      I've only just started going back to re-read the book looking for contradictions, but I do recall feeling like her mileage didnt seem right the first time I read it. You are right that she didnt take a zero until day 4.

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    4. Tori, I hate to say it, but I also question your distance tracking here. This is an excerpt from Part Eleven of this blog, and trust me, I did the math on this repeatedly before I posted just to make sure I was getting it right:

      "We know that it took her 3 days to walk the first 17 miles. On days four, five, six and seven, she claims that she was walking 9 miles a day, and even though I don't believe that for a second, let's just go with that. On the morning of day eight, she left the trail to go hitchhiking. Let's add this up.



      17+9+9+9+9= 53 miles.



      If, at the start her hike, she was 135 miles away from her first resupply box, she should be 82 miles away from this resupply box, not 52 miles. She has just unintentionally admitted that she skipped 30 miles of the trail."

      I have her walking 35 miles in 5 days. Also, Days 2 and 4 were not zero days. Day 2 she took fucking forever to start hiking, but she did hike that day-- that was the day of the Crap Cairn. Day 4 was when she skidded on some pebbles and her "shin was seeping with copious blood." She walked those days.

      Now, Cheryl's math still doesn't add up, but based on what she wrote in the book, I disagree with your zero days. I still love you. I just disagree.

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    5. I just figured out why I thought she zeroed on Day 4 - She spent 2-3 hours hiking to Golden Oaks Springs, then said "I had every intention of hiking on that day, but instead..." which while I was reading it fast made it sounds like she didnt hike at all and I thought she was talking about day 4. So in this instance it's just confusion due to Shifty Cheryl's poor writing skills.

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    6. Mea culpa. I took that to be a zero day, as well. My bad. But, to the new commenter above, we have more than that inconsistency. In fact, that was, as mentioned a small example. As Californian points out, the mileage still doesn't add up. But, my example was poor.

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    7. Tori refers to 1996 here and has done so in other places in comments on Erin's blog. Isn't it supposed to be 1995? Little mistakes like that tend to cause people who are already inclined to disbelief to justify their disbelief in Tori's points. I also felt #9 could well be read as personally insulting, not the neutral statement of facts Erin tries to characterize it as. I AM NOT DEFENDING STRAYED, just pointing out what the other side might see here.

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    8. Donald, first off, thanks for reading and welcome!

      Right you are, sir, it looks like Tori got the year wrong. Cheryl did, indeed, claim to have made her fake hike in 1995. My bad for not noticing the error, and thanks for pointing it out. I'm gonna email Tori about this. Also, I'm glad that you felt okay about pointing out the error-- I, too, disagreed with some of what Tori said about the mileage. That's why the comment section in this blog is such a great place: no one needs to feel apprehensive about offering a different POV. Unlike Cheryl, I won't respond to you in a condescending manner and then block you from my page for saying something that doesn't go along with everything I've written. In all honesty, if Cheryl Strayed herself miraculously came forward with irrefutable proof that 100% of her memoir is true, I would tuck my tail between my legs, issue an apology and give her a Swiss foot massage. I'd even bring her a Costco-sized package of condoms as a peace offering because she seems to really like condoms. This blog isn't about banging a drum loudly enough to drown out the truth-- this is my blog, not Fox News.

      Now, about Point 9 being insulting: Donald, don't forget, this blog is called "I Hate Cheryl Strayed." It's not all hugs and kisses here. I can't speak for Tori, but I can certainly speak for myself: Cheryl is a pathological liar with extreme narcissistic tendencies and these facts are made abundantly clear in her own writing. Calling Cheryl out on her narcissism is not a personal insult; it's calling out the truth. If Hitler were still alive and I had an opportunity to speak to him, I would say, "You are a magnificent bigot and a huge asshole." Would this be personally insulting? Absolutely. It would also, however, be true. If Kim Kardashian appeared in front of me right now, I would say, "You are only famous because of your sex tape and as a contributing member of society, you are worthless." Is that personally insulting? You bet, but it's also accurate. I'm tired of the Everybody-be-nice-and-don't-say-anything-someone-might-consider-mean culture. I'm gonna call people out on their bullshit, and Cheryl is FULL OF BULLSHIT. I know you have the book, Donald. Tell me that you believe every single one of her claims (I already know that you don't because you said as much in your comment o Part 26). She is trying to make her own fantasy a reality-- the fantasy where the whole wide world is in love with her and in awe of her and she is a "hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian Queen."

      I do not fault Tori for calling Cheryl out on this. Hell, Donald, I've been calling Cheryl out on this the whole time.

      Again, thank you for joining in! I hope I was not offensive; that was not my intent.

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    9. Donald Roberts, was specifically did you find offensive? I think it is right on in the sense that we are being asked to take a "cowboy's tale" if you will, a story embellished to the point of ridiculousness and swallow it as gospel. I am reminded of Jack Sumner, whose favorite story was that he saved himself from the Indians by pointing a cocked revolver into a big barrel of gunpowder and offered to blow everyone away. A cowboy's tale told around a campfire for drunken bluster and bravado (which I fully support, by the way). Except she's not a cowboy. She's a narcissistic asshole. Ugh. I don't know where I'm going with this anymore...she makes me so ragey!!!

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    10. Donald, read the comments in Part Nine of the review:

      http://cherylstrayedisaliar.blogspot.com/2014/12/part-nine-of-review-of-wild-from-lost.html

      Tori clearly states that Cheryl made the hike in 1995; maybe 1996 was simply a typo or a brain fart in this bonus segment...?

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  3. Oh, and I googled Oregon bowhunting season, I couldn't find anything specifically for 1995, but the elk bowhunting season usually starts in late August and goes through September. I didn't see anywhere in their rules that hunters couldn't carry pepsi. I also saw an earlier comment regarding the tent in the photo where she is wearing the Marley t shirt, the tent looks like a TNF Lunar lite, which was available in 1995. So you are not convincing me that the book is all lies, though you might be onto something with the sturdy sandals, and that whole "queen of the PCT" ridiculousness.

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    1. Carrying Pepsi is more of a joke. Read the blog comments where the bow hunting methodology is discussed. Would you carry a six pack of thin aluminum cans in a pack filled with knives and other sharp objects? Would you drag them, clanking and clunking, into a hunt where your prey's sense of smell is sensitive enough to smell shampoo at 100 yards? Finding the Oregon regulations for that year is easy- read the USFS and Oregon Resource Management report for that year and you'll see that bow hunting of any kind was not allowed until October. But, keep up the debate. We've been researching for months.

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    2. I've tried to find the information on the bowhunting season but I'm not finding the specific dates for 1995. I did a hike in central Oregon with some friends in the early 90s, I cant remember the year but I know it was the week before Labor day because after the hike we went to the Lakeview Oregon round-up/rodeo which is always held on Labor Day weekend. On that hike we saw lots of people in camo carrying bows. The only thing I'm getting on the resource management website is trends in elk population, can you tell me what document to look for specifically?

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    3. TamiJo formerly 6e666...sorry about that, fixed the name.

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  4. Your blog has been a PROFOUND service. I have loved every page. While hilarious, you are also right! Stay home, heroin queens of the trail. No one wants to save your sorry unprepared butt. You will hike through Utah next year on your walk. That's my state! I am alreading offering up anything you need for that portion. Please keep writing. Ill buy it. Keep blotting. Ill click click click on those ads. Fund your next very real, non honey sand fantasia! All the best! Jess

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    1. I agree, JessieJ ~ I've said many times, while reading this blog, that I'd gladly buy this! It is so entertaining & well-written that I've read many of the Parts, over & over and I just laugh & laugh, again & again...because THIS is profound!

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    2. Jessie and Cindi--

      Thank you so much. Really, I mean it. I don't know what to do with compliments; they make me feel embarrassed and then I do the whole blush-shrug-look-down-kick-a-pebble thing. You know the one.

      I always wanted to be a writer and I even had a journalism scholarship back in my senior year of high school, until it was taken away due to the fact that I was openly gay and the school board didn't like me writing editorials about gay rights in the school newspaper (this was back in the nineties when that sort of fuckery was still acceptable). I'd long since given up on my dream of writing-- mainly because of that episode in bigotry-- and it pleases me to no end that even though I never went to school for writing, I'm still capable of entertaining people with my nonsense. I'm so grateful. You make me feel proud, and I'm not terribly familiar with that feeling. Thank you, truly.

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    3. Whoa, that scholarship story is infuriating. Anyway, fuck those homophobic haters! You've written a brilliant blog and you've now got a following that eagerly awaits your next post, next writing project, etc. Go you!

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    4. Pinkpearl, thank you. I'm not going Full Cheryl, but-- thank you.

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    5. I hate that you had to go through that Cal. That sucks.
      If it makes any difference, I am really enjoying your writing here and think you have real talent. I think you've even gotten better over time and are starting to hit your stride. Whatever you choose to do next, I'm all-in. Count me as a fan.

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    6. Mercer, thank you.

      But hey now, stop, everybody. That wasn't a cry for pity. That was just a glance at the past and a brief explanation of my gratitude. I'm no delicate flower. I'm all good over here. I'm still an opinionated douchebag. Nothing will change that. Just wait for my next project...

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    7. We're just expressing *our* gratitude for your douchebaggery :)

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  5. Thank you for this Tori!

    I have to admit that after reading Strayed's irresponsible rant-ramble on Facebook I felt compelled to start my own blog. I havent posted anything yet but hope to before the end of the week. I plan on going back through the book as well as her Sugar posts and list all the things that dont make sense.

    I'll start out with the most recent incongruity of her claims she was an avid day-hiker, even though it doesnt appear anywhere in the book, nor ever once mentioned hiking while writing as "Sugar", and she clearly was trying to convey she was a complete novice in "Wild"

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    1. I thought of doing the same thing. But, I'm leading a winter search and rescue class from midnight tonight to Saturday at noon. I will help where I can.

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  6. Wow, this blog is a real eye-opener.

    I was hooked on Wild after it was recommended by a school librarian (yes!) in my book club. I liked and believed the book. But after she made a nasty Facebook comment geared towards me (for not liking her profuse use of the F-word), and along with other negative posts of hers, Strayed herself quickly had me not liking her as a person at all. Something just wasn't clicking.

    The nail on the coffin was the movie, which I dragged my husband to. Such a waste of money and precious time we can never get back. So dreadful. After seeing the movie, I stumbled upon this wonderfully entertaining blog while searching for reviews of the movie. I'm so glad I did since I will now know the TRUTH while I kick myself for believing this terrible excuse for a human being.

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    1. You're certainly not to be blamed for believing her. Most people believe the stories of narcissists, until they have reason to know that the Walter Mitty stories are just a fiction. I had no idea that the book and movie were fictional, but I did wonder at several parts of the story that were, well, odd, to say the least. I didn't like the character very much, from her cheating on her husband, to the cavalier abortion, to the stupidity of setting out on a wilderness trail with equipment she'd never even unpacked, but I didn't know she was actually making things up until I started looking at reviews of the book on Amazon. I'm sure she'd love to be able to delete those, as she's paid to have her name scrubbed on the internet - alas, there they remain. And this blog must just give her apoplexy, PROFOUND apoplexy.

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  7. Sorry I'm late for the dance--I couldn't my gmail account password!

    By way of introduction, let me tell you I’m in my mid-50’s, a day hiker who is out of shape, straight born again Christian. I’m not telling you this to try to save your soul (however, if you’re ever interested I am willing to talk to you about it) or anything else. I am telling you this to let you know HOW MUCH your blog has resonated with so many people of all walks of life and in a good and entertaining way. I shared the website with a friend who never read “Wild” and you have made her giggle repeatedly. Thank you.

    I read Strayed’s book in the fall of 2013 and was very disappointed in it. I thought it would be about hiking and self-discovery and it was about neither--to me she was the same self absorbed tornado at the end as she was in the beginning. The drugs, sex, etc. didn't bug me because most of us have done things in our past that we're not proud of (okay, I have done things in my past I'm not proud of), but hopefully we grow, appreciate and seek forgiveness. All of your comments about this book (to me) are spot on.

    I didn’t like the way it was written but it wasn’t until reading your blog that I realized HOW badly it was written. Since I’ve done day hiking and am not familiar with the California areas she hiked I didn’t know the extent of the fallacy. It did strike me as strange that someone who hiked in that area didn’t include photos of where she was—about 30 years ago I went with friends in the Eagle Cap wilderness, got temporarily off the trail and the first thing I did was take a photo to remind myself of the terrain I crossed.

    Anyway, I went to the Cheryl Strayed Facebook page because one thing that stuck in my craw was her referring to the elderly couple who threw her out of the campground as mean. If they had called her names or broke her stuff, yeah. Instead, they held her accountable and wouldn’t let her “charms” influence them. I posted that on her page. I see my comment still there for now.

    Anyway, I want to thank you and the others for validating my dislike of the book, and...

    1) I want to join the others in thanking you for your service for our country.
    2) In case you are wondering where I and some others found you: I hate this book so much that I wrote a review in Amazon and replied to some others. Occasionally I read through the new reviews or reread to see if others have anything to add. One of the respondents to a negative review (not mine) included a link to your blog. I thanked him/her.
    3) Finally, we have one other person to add to this group of people to blame: Strayed, the editor, and the almighty Oprah. If she had not given this her rubberstamp seal of approval and affirmation this would have been relegated to the discount section of Walmart.

    Best to you and yes, yes, yes—I want you to write a book about your hikes! Please provide information for us wannabe through hikers

    If you ever find yourself in the Pendleton, Oregon area, please let me know.

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  8. I really liked the book at first. I guess I'm embarrassingly easy to entertain. I listened to it in the car during my commute to work. I even "liked" Cheryl's Facebook page. About two months before the movie came out, the FB page became an "ain't I wonderful?" sort of thing. Lots of pictures of her best friends Reese and Laura. Pictures of all the award shows she attended. Comments about explaining to her children that they were now rich because of the book. I listened to the book again and this time it rankled, big-time.

    I just don't like a braggart.

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  9. Well done, Tori. You accurately summarized all the issues I had with this book and everything that has made me question its truthfulness.

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  10. I’m going to chime in as this woman needs to be called out.

    I was a thru hiker on the PCT. My trail name was “Runningwolf” and is on the 2600 miler list on the pcta.org in 2012. And signed on the trail registers. Right to Canada. I also attempted in 2010, made 2007 miles and had to quit–injury. Not a big deal but I ran out of time before the snow in Washington. I didn’t even begin to start my written work of the account until I did complete the trail. From A to B. I started over from mile zero the second time.

    Strayed is despised by thru hikers. Many of us question whether she was even on the trail. There are many things that she claims that are far fetched for anyone who has actually done it.

    Lost a shoe and then defiantly tossed the other? The path would have torn her feet up. And we would all like to know where it occurred? Not in the area she was talking about for sure. 99.9% of the ridges don’t have that steep of a slope where you could not have scurried down and gotten it. And she didn’t realize her shoe was loose to begin with? The paths aren’t that narrow–what force with walking would have tossed it that far? The areas she is speaking of simply don’t have that steep a slope for that to have occurred.

    She almost died of thirst did she? Where? There are a few (like 2-3) where you go 20 miles- 30 miles between water–if there weren’t trail angels leaving caches. Can’t speak for 20 years ago but they have been there for years when I went through. I missed a cache on a 29 mile stretch just past Old Station on Hat Rim. Walked right by it in a zone. I was very uncomfortable for about four hours. I didn’t “almost die of thirst.” Even at 104 degrees.

    Parts were “impassable.” Due to snow I assume. And they aren’t–they are just slow and hard. We went through them and she didn’t. In 2010 the snow was record in the Sierras. That record was broken a year later in 2011. People made it through the Sierras. I did. Others did.

    1100 miles from the Mojave to Washington. That would have been about 1500-1600 actually. So she skipped a lot. She did not do the Bataan death march. She section hiked–taking an entire summer to do 1100 miles. Got to rest a lot and hitch hike or bus between sections. Nothing wrong with that. But don’t try to over dramatize it Cheryl. You didn’t do an arduous journey. You took a vacation with hikes in-between. Even those of us who completed the entire trail didn’t have nearly the drama you claim to have had.

    She didn’t walk the distance daily like we did. She didn’t even complete half the trail. Her tales just don’t add up. But it was “girl power” for Oprah …

    Do some research on the trail itself. Hell, get a terrain map and look for the cliffs that are supposedly there where she couldn’t regain her shoe. Then you decide whether she placed in an event of great hardship or is guilty of hiker stolen valor.

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  11. The Detox. I have detoxed from heroin. It is/was not pretty. For at least 72 hours, I couldn't get off the bathroom floor. Cheryl drives, shops, hikes, and whatever else she does with no problems. And even I thought she was an idiot for not at least trying out the fully loaded pack before hitting the trail!

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  12. I was a fan of the book and movie until I saw your blog and then it was like I saw the light over my head because YOU ARE SO RIGHT SHE IS LYING SO MUCH!! I'm a backpacker and it was always hard for me to know someone was going into the backcountry so unprepared, but I was thinking that maybe she was just a very very very determined person. But...a lot of her story doesn't make sense...it's tough for even hard core thru hikers to carry their normal gear, much less for a person who didn't even train to carry a very heavy pack. I'm so happy to have found your blog and hope you continue to write!!!!

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  13. This sums up my feelings perfectly. There's nothing inherently wrong with writing a book about self-discovery and acceptance after living a life of selfishness. But she goes way past acceptance and absolves herself of all of her mistakes. I distinctly remember her arguing that she "had to" cheat on her husband and that attempting to euthanize her mother's prize horse was some sort of healing process or whatever instead of a horrible, thoughtless mistake.

    As someone who struggles with mental illness, I can even sympathize with the borderline self-harming decision to hike the PCT with no experience or hiking buddies in the depths of a depressive spell. I honest to God enjoyed the book (because I'm an engineer with garbage taste in literature, whatever) until the horse scene. I didn't know whether to cry or puke after that. How could she be so stupid? I don't understand how someone from the Midwest, growing up around all sorts of livestock, could not know that killing a large animal isn't that simple and really shouldn't be attempted by someone who's only shot a gun a few times.

    Anyways, after that scene I really couldn't sympathize much with her at all. I know I'm pretty late to the party but thanks for writing this blog. I'm glad I'm not the only person who ended up despising Strayed--reading through this hilarity has certainly validated my feelings toward her. Are you familiar with Mark Oshiro and his review of the Twilight series? It's pretty similar to this blog, I think you'd enjoy it.

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  14. I watched the movie last night. I have not read the book. While I can understand Cheryl's struggle to put her life right, I find many aspects of her adventure to be less than believable. Those have been discussed on the blog. The horse bothers me the most. She says her mother told her to do the kindest thing, which certainly does not include killing the horse. If she did not want the horse, the kindest thing to do is call animal control or give it away. Murder is murder when you kill a living being for your own convenience.

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  15. Thanks for your perspective!! I finished the book and thought it was cute, but I knew there was something wrong with it and couldn't put my finger on it. The book reads like a fiction and I hate that she's profiting from this story of stupidity, in addition to her name.

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