Friday, December 5, 2014

Part Six of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Two, She's Almost Hiking

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

Part Six: Chapter Two, She's Almost Hiking

Chapter Two starts off with Cheryl reminding us about her dead mom again just in case we had already forgotten the entire first chapter.  She makes a big, sloppy production out of letting us know that since she was going to be gone on her pretend hike, she "wasn't going to be around to tend her [mother's] grave anymore,"  never mind that her mother was cremated and, subsequently, there was no grave to speak of (not to mention that Cheryl supposedly ate her mom's remains, but this isn't brought to light until Chapter 16, and no, I'm not making this up).  Then she a wrote a whole mess of sentence fragments, at the end of which I neatly wrote, "STFU."

I'll give you a second to digest the parenthetical and get ahold of yourself before we go on (ahhhhhh, "digest," snicker, snicker).

Better?  No?  Probably aghast right now?  Well, get used to that.  We're moving on anyway.

Cheryl gets a ride to the town of Mojave and then this paragraph happens:

"'You can stop here,' I said to the man who'd driven me from LA, gesturing to an old-style neon sign that said WHITE'S MOTEL with the word TELEVISION blazing yellow above it and VACANCY in pink beneath.  By the worn look of the building, I guessed it was the cheapest place in town.  Perfect for me."

The thing about this passage that immediately struck me was that she described something as "blazing yellow."  Every subculture has its own lingo, and in the hiking community, "yellow blazing" is a very derogatory term for skipping difficult parts of a trail and opting to hitchhike instead.  If a hiker calls you a "yellow blazer," he or she has essentially just said, "You are a lying, cheating sack of shit who has no place calling yourself a hiker."  I sincerely doubt that Cheryl is aware of this term, and *SPOILER* she pretty much yellow blazes the entire PCT.  Oh, the irony.

Cheryl gets out of the truck, lies to the driver about being an experienced solo-traveler and then states this:

"I got out with my backpack and two oversized plastic department store bags full of things."

SHE HAS NOT EVEN BOTHERED TO PACK YET.  Let me skip ahead a few pages to another quote that really drives her complete lack of preparedness home:

"A month ago, I'd been firmly advised to pack my backpack just as I would on my hike and take it on a trial run... But I hadn't."


Flash, bam, back to the motel and her backpack and her two oversized plastic bags of crap.  No big whoop, she'll get it all put together in her room.  She goes into the motel and this total boner-killer of a lady at the front desk has the gall to treat her like a regular person instead of the totally awesome inspiration that she is, so Cheryl doesn't write about her in a very complimentary light.  Front-desk-lady apparently can smell whore all over Cheryl and says that the room will cost more if a companion will be joining her, and Cheryl can't even believe it and gets all bent:  "'A companion won't be joining me,' I said evenly," never mind that as soon as she gets to her room, all she can think about is going to the motel bar and picking up a random guy to fuck.  Before we get to her room, however, she feels the need to describe this exchange with front-desk-lady:

"...though she didn't turn to me for several moments.  She was watching a small television that sat on a table behind the counter.  The evening news.  Something about the O.J. Simpson trial.
'Do you think he's guilty?' she asked, still looking at the TV.
 'It seems like it, but it's too soon to know, I guess.  We don't have all the information yet.'
'Of course he did it!' she shouted."

BULL.  SHIT.  Everything about that exchange is pure crap, mainly because Cheryl is a huge racist but she doesn't want you to know that, so she's going out of her way here to say the one thing that pretty much no white person in America was saying at the time.  I mean, really.  This was essentially Cheryl's attempt at 1) pointing out what a mean, mean person that lady was, and 2) trying to convince you that she, Cheryl, is such a kind, open-minded, loving, awesome person.  Eat a bag of dicks.

She gets to her room and apparently discovers air conditioning for the first time in her life because she repeatedly refers to the air conditioner as a "vented metal box in the corner."  Seriously.  Multiple times.  Just call it an air conditioner.  Jesus. Then, as stated previously, she immediately starts thinking about getting her freak on:

"I could go to a bar.  I could let a man buy me a drink.  We could be back here in a flash."

Then she starts talking about how she misses her "best friend," Paul, who also happens to be her ex-husband-- the one she cheated on a million times.  The vented metal box in the corner distracts her again and she starts describing her outfit, as if anyone would give a fuck.  But she has "navy blue shorts with important-looking pockets," so whoa, maybe I'm wrong, who wouldn't want to hear about that.  Blah, blah, blah, flashback to a conversation with Paul, when he had intelligently suggested that maybe Cheryl should try, you know, backpacking once or twice before attempting a thousand-mile hike of the PCT and of course, Cheryl loses her shit at the suggestion.  But then, the sudden realization hits her--

"I've never gone backpacking!"

This should have been the title of her stupid book, if you ask me.

More clumsy flashbacks follow, none of which are worth getting into (except for maybe, "We'd lived in New York only a month when Paul dropped out of graduate school, deciding he wanted to play guitar instead," which just goes to show what kind of fellow genius her ex-husband was).  Blah, blah, poor me, I'm such a victim, here I am describing what a horrible person I am and how terribly I treat people (but only because my mom died and that excuses everything), but I'm still awesome... sentence fragment, the end.

And that's Chapter Two.


  1. I didn't know the term "yellow blazing," but that is *hilarious*.

    Paul reminds me of my dog: sweet, fun, loyal, but dumber than a box of half-baked rocks. Breaking his poor heart was probably the best thing she ever did to him.

    1. "White Blazing" is following the main AT route, marked with white paint on trees and rocks. "Blue Blazing" is following one of the side trails (marked with blue). "Yellow Blazing" refers to the yellow line down the highway and means you've hitch-hiked over a portion of the trail.

  2. paul was like a dog if she said he did that is why they went to ny a year after death so she could write her first THE HOUSE THE HORSE AND THE BLUE CANOE she sent us a tape of that same story mom died just a different title but mind you she claim she tried to hold this family together but she was out of here she just didn't like that her step dad had meant some one and it wasn't her

    1. Beverly, her claim that she "tried to keep the family together" smelled like bullshit to me from the start. It didn't seem like she did ANYTHING to keep the family together-- she left town and didn't look back. I love that you can validate this. Thank you so much!

    2. I don't understand this response. I'm no defender of Cheryl's but, I don't understand this response at all. There's no punctuation or..... who did her stepdad mean?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oh, Snake. I can tell already, you're going to be an absolute fucking delight on here. Welcome, welcome and welcome again.

    2. Talking Snake's comments have been removed by the author. Will these comments be restored when I get the last page of the blog, like blowing the dust from a forgotten map? How can snakes talk and type anyway? This suspense, like the suspense of not knowing how to not hike without hiking boots, is killing me!

  4. I never went long distance hiking before. I will probably never understand how pathetic Strayed was during her hike. All I know is that, despite your claim that she is arrogant , this is a MEMOIR. So wtf do you expect? Do you expect she that she goes out and wrestles with bears or something? Also, near the end of the book, she does say "What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I'd done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to?"(Strayed 258). She also admits that she is not a "badass motherfucking Amazonian queen", so I don't know if she was really bragging about her trail. I really think it was more of a philosophical journey for her to come to terms with her problems. And no, I am not saying that she changes into a new person; I am just saying that she finally forgives herself and finally accepts that her mother has died. It's really a philosphical book, and even if she's arrogant, I thinks it's important to respect her life story. What do you think the words "From Lost to Found" imply? It foreshadows the possibility of internal character development. A book is not considered good unless there is character development, and this is her character development of trying to resolve her inner turmoil. And she obviously needs to talk about why she is experiencing her inner turmoil, so that's why she must explain her family background.

    Well, that's all I guess...Of course, I love philosophical books so...if you are interested in the adventure genre this is obviously not meant for you. I am just surprised that you didn't know it may be like this...I mean...the description implied what the book may include as well. Also, sorry for any grammar mistakes. Hope you won't judge me like you judged Strayed.

    1. If you consider this a philosophical book i can only assume you are actually Sarah Palin.

  5. I have a few questions

    1)Did Cheryl get on a plane with "two oversized plastic bags" full of hiking gear? Do they let you fly like that?

    2)since she was carrying these items in "two oversized plastic bags" from the midwest how did she not realize how heavy they were?

    3)where did she buy the gasoline for her stove? never mind that its illegal to sell gasoline like that she never mentioend buying it in California. I dont' see how she could have bought and flew with it to California.

  6. I found this blog after reading 100 pages of this book. I am going to leave my bookmark in and reshelf it. It was the men she encountered on the trail being so kind and her not being one bit scared of them despite being scared of the guy in the truck earlier on. But also the name change thing. She's just not someone I want to read about.