Thursday, January 29, 2015

Part Thirty-Seven of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Seventeen, Part Three: Cheryl Gets Not Raped

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

Part Thirty-Seven, Chapter Seventeen, Part Three: Cheryl Gets Not Raped

Cheryl starts hiking the morning after the storm nothing and says she "missed a fork in the trail" and is no longer on the PCT even though that doesn't really make sense.  You can take the wrong path at a fork, but you can't really miss a fork unless you're going out of your way to not pay attention because it's a fork and goddamnit, apparently we can add "forks" to the limitless list of things Cheryl doesn't understand.  I don't know, maybe she missed it while she was busy skipping along and keeping an eye out for Bigfoot and trying to figure out how the sky works.  It's possible.  Who even gives a shit at this point because none of this happened.

She's totally unconcerned with the fact that she's not on the trail anymore because she's an expert hiker and will undoubtedly find her way back to the trail.  She does her stupid hopscotch thing again (which I've been sparing you, but fuck it, deal with this)--

"Hop, skip, jump, done."
--and just shut the fuck up already.  She claims to encounter "a trio of enormous elks" and I don't believe this for a second because she doesn't scream, "PANDAS!" upon seeing them.
She stops to make camp in the evening near a pond and get ready for the big bag of bullshit that takes up the rest of the chapter, and by "get ready," I mean, go pour yourself a Big Gulp of scotch or vodka or whiskey or nail polish remover, down the whole thing like it's water, sit (or fall) down, wait for the impending blackout, and hope like you've never hoped before that you immediately have to be rushed to the hospital for alcohol poisoning in order to avoid having to read all this.  Are you ready?  Did you do what I suggested?  You didn't, did you.  I was trying to be helpful and you disregarded my good advice.  Well, that's your own fault, so don't blame me.
"Only moments" after she stops to make camp, "two bow hunters" appear. They are desperate for water and this doesn't make any sense, but we'll get to that in a minute.
"'You got any water?' one of them burst out immediately.
"'We can't drink the pond water, can we?' asked the other, the desperation apparent on his face." 
Is this their first time outside?  Who thinks they can drink pond water?

Cheryl describes the men and Robin Desser forgets how commas work:

"They both looked to be in their mid-thirties.  One man was sandy-haired and wiry, though he had a little belly; the other was a redhead tall and meaty enough to be a linebacker.  They both wore jeans with big buck knives hitched onto their belts and enormous backpacks that had bows and arrows slung across them."
Redhead talls are my favorite kind of men. 
Cheryl tells them that they can drink the pond water as long as it's run through a filter first and these two men are all what's-that-we-don't-have-one-of-those.  I see a couple holes in this story already and it's only just begun.  She offers to let them use her filter and I also don't believe this, but let's just go with it, right?  It'll make things more interesting.
Sandy takes the filter over to the pond and I guess he tries sticking it in his ear or something because he asks, "How do you use this thing?"  Before Cheryl attempts to (poorly) explain how to use it, she tells us that the men are only "up for the day hunting" and that their truck is parked three miles away.  Since Cheryl doesn't understand how miles work, she acts like they're in a dire situation and asks them if they've gone the whole day without drinking.
"'We brought Pepsi,' the sandy-haired man answered. 'We each had a six-pack.'"

It takes DAYS before a person will die from dehydration, and these tools apparently drank a six-pack of Pepsi EACH during that day, which means that they are both stupid, but fine.  While I imagine they may possibly have been thirsty, they were not in any sort of life-threatening position, especially given that their truck was three fucking miles away= less than an hour walk.

"'We're headed back down to our truck after this, so we only need enough water to get us another bit, but we're both dying of thirst,' the red-haired man said."
No, you're not.
Hey, look, Cheryl found another person who measures things in bits.  She gives them what little water she has left in her bottle and complains about having to help people.
"I felt sorry for them, but I was sorrier that they were here with me.  I was exhausted.  I ached to take off my boots and change out of my sweaty clothes, pitch my tent, and make my dinner so I could lose myself in The Ten Thousand Things."

Oh, boo-hoo, the world isn't revolving around you for a minute.  Better fix that!

"Plus, I got a funny feeling from these men, with their Pepsi and their bows and their big buck knives and the way they'd stormed right up to me."

Yeah, these stupid men with their Pepsi.  They sound super dangerous.  Trustworthy men drink Snapple.

Since Cheryl didn't bother to explain how to use the water filter very well, Sandy apparently just sticks it in some mud, attempts to pump water and breaks the filter.  Cheryl reprimands him for not following the directions she didn't give him and he is not apologetic.  Redhead Tall starts going Full Cheryl because he's "got to get something to drink," and jesus christ, just walk 45 minutes to your truck and drive to a store.  You'll make it, I promise.

Cheryl fills their empty Pepsi cans with pond water, pops in some iodine pills, tells them that the water will be safe to drink in thirty minutes and then hopes that they'll leave, but they don't.  Sandy wants to make conversation and is all heywhatchadoin and stuff, except Cheryl has to make it sound super rapey while also reminding us how beautiful she is, and Robin Desser clearly couldn't stand reading this garbage by chapter 17 and gave up.

"'So, what are you doing out here all by yourself?' asked the sandy-haired man.
"'I'm hiking the Pacific Crest Trail,' I said, and instantly wished I hadn't.  I didn't like the way he was looking me, openly appraising my body.
"I didn't like the way he was looking me?"  Robin, you're not even trying anymore. 
Openly appraising her body, huh?  Rawr.  Sandy goes on to say,
"'I can't believe a girl like you would be all alone up here.  You're way too pretty to be out here alone, if you ask me.'" 

Of course he says this.  Overcome by Cheryl's exquisite beauty, he can't help but to continue.

"'I don't believe that a young thing like her could be out here by herself, do you?' he said to his red-haired friend, as if I weren't even there."

He can't stop himself; he must say more things.

"'She's got a really nice figure, don't she?' the sandy-haired man said.  'Healthy, with some soft curves.  Just the kind I like.'"
Why is he talking like the mountain men from "Deliverance" all of the sudden?
What the fuck is this guy talking about.  Let's remember what Cheryl looked like at this point:
What curves?  Is he referring to her wrist fat?
Cheryl is super uncomfortable with all this talk about her beauty and lies to Sandy and Redhead Tall, telling them that she's gonna keep hiking and bye now!  She pretends to start packing up, they leave and whew, that was super close, something almost happened except it didn't because nothing ever happens.
She starts unpacking, boils some water on her stove and changes clothes, which she describes as such:
"I peeled off my sweaty clothes, pulled out my red fleece leggings and long-sleeved shirt, and dressed in them."
Thanks.  She starts to put her tent up and--
Cheryl is terrified.
"It was as if I'd finally come across a mountain lion and I'd remembered, against all instinct, not to run.  Not to incite him with my fast motions or antagonize him with my anger or arouse him with my fear."

And what the fuck is this twat talking about.  Potential (non)rapists are not like mountain lions; they will not be "incited by fast motions."  I'm sort of surprised she doesn't start singing songs to scare him off because that totally works on bears and Bigfoot.

Sandy points out that she had told him that she was going to be moving on and he doesn't like the fact that she lied.

"'You tried to trick us.'"
*Eye roll*

"'You changed your clothes, too,' he said suggestively, and his words expanded in my gut like a spray of gunshot.  My entire body flushed with the knowledge that when I'd taken off my clothes, he'd been nearby, watching me.
"'I like your pants,' he said with a little smirk.  He took off his backpack and set it down.  'Or leggings, if that's what they're called.'" 

What man corrects himself to say leggings.  What man.  Anyway, Cheryl's pretty much shitting her pants leggings at this point and can't form words, so Sandy keeps talking to end the awkward silence.

"'I'm talking about your pants,' the man said with a touch of irritation.  'They look good on you.  They show off your hips and legs.'"

And no man talks like this, but whatever.  Cheryl needs all of her young, na├»ve readers to understand that Sandy is interested in her pudendum (or "pudenda," since Cheryl has more than one vagina).   Cheryl is in full survival mode now and mentally assesses all of her defense options: the world's loudest whistle, the Swiss army knife she can't get to, the "not-yet-boiling water in the handleless pot" on her stove, and finally decides that her best option is an arrow.

"If he tried to do anything to me, I'd get to one of those arrows and stab him in the throat."

Sandy continues to not rape her or do anything but just talk to her and thank goodness, Redhead Tall shows up to save the day, irritated with Sandy because he had to come back to find him, which makes no sense because they left together and-- I don't even care anymore.  None of this happened.  I'm not going to try to make sense of it.

Sandy and Readhead Tall leave, and Cheryl goes beyond Full Cheryl.  She packs up camp and, you'll never believe this, she "walked and walked."  She walks until she can't walk anymore, and ends the chapter with,

"And then I ran."

Pffffffffffft, well, that was just terrifying.  I'm so glad she's okay.


  1. Kudos to you for taking this on. I would need more than a Big Gulp of whisky to wade through Cheryl's imaginative tale of how the scary creepsters were so AMAZED by her beauty.

    Also, I'm not a hiker, so your hilarious debunking is quite the education for me. I'm really enjoying hearing about trail angels and registers and special equipment from you (and your commenters) - it's delightful to find out this world exists, and to hear from you how this kind of hike actually WOULD happen.

  2. No man outside of a dance company has ever uttered the word "leggings" unless it went something like this:
    Man: "hey, nice pants"
    Woman "you mean 'leggings'"
    Man "oh right, leggings and shit...nice"

    Enormous backpacks with bows and arrows strapped to them? But not a single canteen of water?

    No the whole thing is completely made-up. What may have happened is this: she was trotting down another day-hiker trail and passed by two guys who she didnt think were cute and they said "hi" to her. The rest she made up at the picnic table in camp while her boyfriend made her smores before they drove the next day to the next PCT access trail down the road.

    Ugh! I got to the point in the Barefoot Sisters: Southbound book where one sister gets a blackened toenail and is afraid of losing it because her shoes were too small for her. Then the other sister puts moleskin on a blister and covers it with duct tape. Sound familiar? Wild is nothing but a ripped-off abridged version of the Letcher sister's book.

    1. No man I personally know, would ever say leggings, unless they were talking about those pants we were forced to wear as kids (here in Michigan) over our clothes when we were kids, walking to school. They were called "leggings" & they made this swishy sound as we walked. Nobody ever wanted to wear them because they made you feel like you were just a baby.

  3. As with all things Cheryl, this part of her story reads like how she imagines a scene like that happening, not like something that actually happened.

    Additionally, hunters tend to be among the most prepared folks that enter the wild - bow hunters even more so. I don't buy for a second that she encountered scary bow hunters who came equipped with nothing more than their bows and 6-packs of Pepsi. She describes them as having "enormous backpacks". So what else were they carrying in those packs if not food and water, especially since their Pepsi was all gone?

    Unsurprisingly, none of Cheryl's story details add up. She picks out things she feels would be most scary to women hiking the trail alone and creates scenes around them. In fact, the whole tale reads like a screenplay, not a memoir. She's got the arc of the trail to tie the thing together, with present day scenes and flashbacks to fill in details. Every encounter reads like a scene intended for film. She even has the dramatic opening scene to suck in the viewer. She was writing this with every intention of turning it into a film.

    1. You are so right, Facilman! My husband is a bow hunter and guess what... he has 2 water filters and can start a bonfire with twigs & matches. He's the one who got me camping and hiking. Our first backpack trip was 4 days on Isle Royale. I've been telling him about this blog & he must read this part. Why would they have "enormous" backpacks for a day-hunt? Cheryl is an idiot and she has to create characters who are even dumber than she is.

      I also agree that this whole fable was intended as a screenplay and I'd also bet SHE intended to actually star in it. I cannot wait for the day that some honcho in the literary world publicly outs her and her lies.

    2. Facilman, I agree - her intent was always to get this made into a film. (I agree with everything else you wrote too.)

      I hate myself, but I'll give credit where it's due: Cheryl accurately read the market and produced a book that would sell. It made her famous and rich and got her invited to the SOTU. Many writers - *better* writers - have the same goals and never achieve them. Whatever skills or smarts are needed to pull that off, Cheryl has them.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the bathroom to puke.

  4. This is SO hilarious! Once again, I'm on the floor...and not because I heeded your warning about the "big bag of bullshit" & your advice about the "big gulp of scotch or vodka or whiskey or nail polish remover" ;) Once all the "parts" are done, you should package it up and send it to Robin Desser and to a publisher. THIS is a book I'd buy, exactly as it has been written. Thank you again, Erin/Cali, for this wonderfully entertaining blog!

    1. I could not agree more. Enormously entertaining and well written.

  5. So, wait. She wanted every man on the trail to see her as the most fuckable thing in camp sandals, AND she has hopped into multiple vehicles with sketchy strangers, AND she smoked pot and God knows what else with at least three people so far, AND she fucked a random guy....but, the only two men who might actually, feasibly be in the woods for a non-sexual purpose (hunting) are clearly rapists?!?!? Right.

    Let's count the ways this little story doesn't add up.
    1. Hunters, gun or otherwise, were not permitted, by law, to hunt within 1 mile of known trails.
    2. In Oregon, in 1996, the bow hunting season didn't not open until October 5th, at th earliest. The areas through which the PCT past through did not open until October 7th and by tag only.
    This meeting DID NOT happen. The only feasible out would be if Cheryl was somehow on private land, in which case the season would still prohibit hunting, but he harder to prosecute, but would also make Cheryl far off the trail AND make the hunters 3 mile hike ridiculous. Bow hunters ARE bow hunters because they are patient planners who have a respect for the hunt. These aren't Elmer Fudd types who stumble into the woods. And, I know of no hunter, with the prowess to use a bow, that would take CANS of Pepsi on the hunt because hunters stick to a smell negative game. It's water or nothing. Forget the fact that three miles I s nothing to a bow hunter and the area is wet enough that even poor planners like Cheryl can find water...but, a bow hunter travels fast and light. But, they travel smart. She's just full of shit. But, most thru hikers DO hit this section during hunting season because they don't skip thousands of miles in California. Cheryl probably read other trail journals and the caution to wear something bright during hunting season and forgot to recall that she did Oregon in August.

    This is just more of her narcissist behavior poking out. Every man wants her. She's so brave. No one can believe she's alone....blah, blah.

    1. I was coming on down to comment this same thing! Oregon hunting is very specific with both tags and seasons. My first thought was, bow hunters get to start early, but not that early. Not to mention how completely wrong she is about the hunters. The only person on the PCT in an enormous pack like that is her.

  6. This is why I love you guys. I don't even have to spell out the bullshit anymore. I just present what she wrote and let you all go to town.

    1. In my opinion, this is her worst error. She will respond by saying these guys were hunting out of season or something, but... no one wants to take a deer or game in August because you still have to field dress it and butcher it and, even if you do it yourself, one wrong statement will have a Fish and Game officer on your doorstep, pronto. And, if they were on private land, they wouldn't be there without the owner knowing, or its poaching (and still out of season).
      Btw- two more people who are unverifiable.

    2. Thank you, Tori ~ Here in Michigan, bow season starts in October, too. My bow-hunter/outdoorsman husband read this part & after laughing his way all through it, agreed with you and Facilman. I can attest that prior to his heading up north to his hunting camp, he washes all his hunting clothes in some special scent removing detergent & packages each day's "outfit" in a separate plastic bag. The scent thing is a BIG deal and no way would he drink anything but water before or during a hunting session . 2 weeks ago, a local guy here was fined $15,000 for poaching a buck. So yeah, it is serious business.

      Bow hunting etiquette, laws, customs are all pretty easy to research. Cheryl is too lazy and stupid to do even that and assumes that nobody will notice or question her. I guess she also thinks that bow hunters are just dumb hicks. They make sure they kill with the first arrow and (like fly-fisherman) are concerned with conserving the resource and the environment. Unlike her, with her littering all over the PCT and the sickening horse abuse. Cheryl makes me sick.

  7. (Tap,tap, ta-tap tap)
    Little girl voice: "Cheryl!? Do you wanna' write some bullshit?
    Come on, let's go and hike.
    They'll never doubt you anymore...Come out the's like you give you give a shiiiiiiiit."
    "We used to be best buddies: you and me....watching the miles drift by-y-y
    Do you wanna write some bullshit....(It really has to be good bullshit)..."

    "Ok, bye."

  8. Sorry to be three months late to the party. But I just watched the DVD.

    This encounter was what drove me to the internet. As the bow hunters appeared and didn't rape Cheryl, I turned to my wife and said, "That never happened." That isn't the way the world works. If you're an outdoor person (and by definition anyone with a decent compound bow is) you know about water. And planning, ONLY CHERYL (allegedly) goes off into the wild not prepared. No one (again, unless you're CHERYL) goes out and buys $3,000 worth of equipment for their first trip into the wild. In the movie, they had packs, full camo, compound bows with quivers full of arrows. Didn't happen. I can't even THINK of a scenario where something like this could have happened. [OK, I lied. Here's one. CHERYL was the one unprepared, not the hunters. They let HER use their filter equipment to get some water. The filtered water was a little cloudy, and Cheryl went "Ew." She flipped the story to show a) how generous she is; b) how brave she is to drink muddy water; and c) another opportunity for men to lust after her.]

    Erin/Califohioan, I hope you still read the comments. In any case, thank you for your efforts and a forum for others to contribute their expertise. I found your site trying to validate my thoughts. Now that I've read them all (I started here, but went back) I'm convinced she's a pathological liar. And not a nice person.

    But hey, she's rich and famous. In America today, CHERYL is the winner.

    Big, sad sigh.

  9. I too am slightly late at jumping on this band wagon, but I have to say that I am absolutely loving this rendition of the oh-so-inspiring Cheryl Strayed. Although, whilst I was reading this chapter I couldn't help but think of the resemblance these bow hunters have to Daryl from the Walking Dead...

  10. "Redhead talls are my favorite kind of men." I laughed so hard that lemonade Snapple came out of my nose!

    1. And we used to think that all we had to worry about were the Tall White aliens. Actually, that's the only thing missing from Cheryl's book. She covered Bigfoot, might as well insert some interplanetary aliens who, of course, immediately want to bone her. And not in a good way. More like in a Colonel Sanders kind of way. Heh heh.

  11. Yep, this was the section of the book that did it for me. I listened to "Wild" on audio when the book was first released, and would now and then think that the dialogue she assigned some of the people she ran into did not ring true, but I let it go. I mean, I really didn't care. But this section with the hunters - nah. Inserted for pure drama, but again, I didn't much care. I did notice a little later that doubts sprang up (can't recall where - Amazon?) about this particular section, and I think that caused me to put a lot more doubt into what I'd heard on audio than I had previously. In prep to see the film, I found Erin's blog link at IMDB, and wow, am I ever glad I did. It's been a delightful education from both Erin and the commenters.

  12. I came across this and thought you guys might be interested. Maybe you guys have figured this out since January but I think many people already know the "bow hunters" story was just made up...

  13. Jeez, what the fuck is this? Are ya kidding me? Let me just say I'm new to your site... Cheryl Strayed wrote a great book, good for her for making something of her life as a writer, persuing her dreams, and succeeding. I got halfway through your hate speech before I just couldn't take it anymore and had to say something to you. I'm surprised all these other comments like what you have to say, I assume you deleted the negative ones.

    Any rate, I think it sounds like what Cheryl went and DID (hike far on the PCT and write a book about it) is probably something YOU would like to do and haven't actually done. So you're just here really putting effort into... I dunno, putting her down unnecessarily. You should put that effort instead into building yourself up. I guess this gets you views on your angry website... But I read Cheryl's book, found it inspiring, and I don't think I'd ever want to read your book. And yes I did hike the PCT.

    I usually don't write comments on things, but just so you know, hate is shitty and among the forces of evil which are destroying our planet. We don't need it. Just my two cents for ya! Peace!

    1. Unlike your hero, Cheryl-- who deletes the comments of anyone who disagrees with her-- I do not delete comments. You are free to voice your opinion. No one cares.

      Hugs and kisses,

    2. And actually I read more of your website, and yeah it's pretty mean, but your also allowed to say whatever you want. So good for you for being brave and putting yourself out there! Who knows, maybe I would read your book, at least you're being true to yourself!

    3. If "being true to yourself" is an admirable quality why doesn't CS make you sick?

  14. Sounds to me that you are rather jealous and vindictive. You have to resort to this little blog, one of millions, to tear down something you will never be, a bestselling author, of several books I might add. Need some cheese to go along with all the whine?

    You just come off as a bitter wanna be.

    I almost feel sorry for you.

    1. Well you sound ignorant and gullible. CS is a pathological liar and a profound narcissist. It surprises me and surprises me and surprises me that she has had any success as a writer.

  15. Cheryl owes me 20$ for buying her shit glad there are people who call out bullshit...thank-you califohioan...I am enjoying y0ur blog immensely...

  16. The author of this childish blog post sounds like a horrible person.

    1. As horrible as the woman who LIED about almost getting raped? such fasle allegation make it harder for women to report their own abuse.