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?"
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.
"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,
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."
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.