Monday, January 5, 2015

Part Twenty-Eight of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Thirteen: The Accumulation of Bullshit

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

Part Twenty-Eight, Chapter Thirteen: The Accumulation of Bullshit

Chapter Thirteen is called "The Accumulation of Trees" and I've already fixed that.

This chapter starts off with Cheryl copying and pasting more information about the history of the PCT and I'm not even going to bother quoting any of it because if you want to learn about the PCT, go do some actual research instead of listening to Cheryl Strayed ramble on about it as if she knows anything.  The only notable thing she says, not surprisingly, is some completely narcissistic drivel:

"...when Catherine Montgomery and Clinton Clarke and Warren Rogers and the hundreds of others who'd created the PCT had imagined the people who would walk that high trail that wound down the heights of our western mountains, they'd been imagining me." 
NO, THEY WEREN'T.  I'm pretty sure they were imagining people who were going to actually hike the trail.
She blathers on about more self-absorbed bullshit for a little while and ends it all with:
"...before I could have known how truly hard and glorious the PCT would be, how profoundly the trail would both shatter and shelter me."

That's like a super-bonus Cheryl sentence!  It has "profound" and "shatter" in it!  I can't believe this woman teaches writing classes.

She mentions that she's in her "sixth week of the trail" and I'm pretty sure that if you subtracted all of the zero-days and liar-liar-pants-on-fire hitchhiking days, she's only on like week two, but okay, Cheryl.  Week six it is.

We're finally about to reach the super dramatic boot incident that happened way back in the prologue-- the nail-biting story that was meant to suck us into her big bullshit tale but that I spoiled right away by saying we'd find out she was really just exaggerating about it 206 pages later-- we have reached that page. 

[Blogger's note: as with a book, you can't just jump into this blog without having started at the beginning.  I know I have new readers every day, so if this is your first visit to this blog, first, thank you for reading!  Second, stop reading this post and go start at the beginning.  Very little of what I'm writing will make any sense at this point and you will immediately conclude that I am just a very angry person when this is not, in fact, the case.  Stop now, go to Part One of this review, go in order from there and I promise, things will make much more sense as you go.  Welcome!  Thank you for reading and please start at the beginning.]

Cheryl claims once again to have gotten up at "first light" and then she hikes "for a few hours" in her duct-taped camp sandals, "climbing nearly 1,700 feet" up some mountain and no... no she doesn't.  You do not climb mountains in flip-flops duct-taped to your feet.  That's not how it works.

She stops to eat lunch and once again references The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume I: California, pointing out that "this section of the trail was so ill-maintained that it was 'little better than cross-country hiking' in places," and then brings up how her sandals are falling apart.

"Already, they'd begun to give out, their bottoms splitting apart and flapping beneath me with each step, catching small twigs and pebbles as I went."

Imagine that.

She forces her boots back on and hikes for a little bit until she stops to take another break on "a slope," takes her boots off and oh, god, get ready.  Stupid Cheryl says that she--

"loved the sensation of feeling taller than the trees, of seeing their canopy from above, as a bird would,"

--and because she's lost in "this reverie," she carelessly starts manhandling Monster and it's at this point when Monster topples over and holy shit, you guys, it knocks one of her boots off of the "slope" and cue Full Cheryl:

"I gasped in surprise and lurched for my other boot, clutching it to my chest, waiting for the moment to reverse itself, for someone to come laughing from the woods, shaking his head and saying that it had all been a joke.
"But no one laughed.  No one would.  The universe, I'd learned, was never, ever kidding."
Clearly, the universe does have a sense of humor because this book is a best-selling memoir.  GOOD ONE, UNIVERSE!
Cheryl "I-Don't-Give-A-Shit-About-Anything-Other-Than-Myself" Strayed then tosses her other boot over the edge of the slope because fuck you, untouched wilderness, Imma litter because I'm Cheryl Strayed!
At least she has that new pair of boots waiting for her at Castle Crags, which is god knows how many miles away because Cheryl has stopped mentioning mileage at this point and it doesn't even matter because we all know she's going to hitchhike the whole way there really soon.
She stops for the night and has a 5-page flashback that I'm going to quickly and neatly sum up because I am fucking sick of this book.
Apparently, there was a super special kitchen table that existed back when Cheryl's mother was alive and don't start thinking that it was a nice table or anything.  It was some piece of crap that her mother had bought "for ten bucks" and Cheryl likely hadn't thought of it for years, sort of like Lady.  She goes back to visit her younger brother, Leif, right before she's about to go on her pretend hike and OMG, Leif has let all of his friends carve things into the super special table that Cheryl hasn't thought about in years and goddamnit, cue another Full-Cheryl Meltdown.  I can't even bother at this point.  Just know that Cheryl throws a fit about some table that she doesn't really care about, but since said table has been defaced, it gives her an opportunity to once again make everything that ever happens in the world all about her because of course she does.  Clearly, her brother is going through his own grieving process and dealing with it in his own way and Cheryl can't have any of that because she's Cheryl and the universe revolves around her.  FUCK YOU, LEIF, DON'T YOU DARE TRY TO GRIEVE IN YOUR OWN WAY IF IT WILL BRING HARM TO THE SPECIAL TABLE.
I can't even bother with the rest of the stupid flashback because it's just too inane to acknowledge and nothing important happens because nothing ever does.
Blam, back to the trail and wouldn't you fucking know it, Cheryl is searching for a road upon which to hitchhike.  I know, I can't even believe it, myself.  She gets lost and instead of doing anything useful, she "simply gave up and devoured a hundred pages of Lolita," and why is she not dead yet.  Blah, blah, blah, she reinforces her "duct tape booties with another layer of tape" and who really even cares at this point, we all know she's lying.  But whatever, she hitchhikes another ride, camps for the night at Camp Nowhere To Be Mentioned and then hikes "at what was record speed" for her to Castle Crags and who even cares at this point.
Anyway, she gets there and holy shit, her new boots and a resupply box are waiting for her and this goes exactly how you think it does.
Rex, Stacy and a couple other people she barely mentioned are all waiting for her at Castle Crags and I wonder exactly who these people are because no one to date has come forward to say that they were on the trail with super-famous-Cheryl and I call shenanigans yet again.  But sure, all these people are here waiting for her and she immediately wastes all of her money on cheeseburgers, fries, beer and wine because of course she does.
They all go back to camp and then "two black bears" show up but since everyone "shouted at them to go away," they went away because that's totally how bears work.
Cheryl gets super drunk and pukes all over the campsite because I'm sure that's what hikers do and... sigh.
Blah, blah blah...more super smart books, blah, blah, blah...bigfoot country...blah, blah, blah, she only has two hundred miles to go until she reaches Oregon, the end.
I hate this book so much.


  1. Of course, as entertaining as your extended review has been, the whole thing can be summed up as "I call shenanigans." In reality, that is all that needs to be said when reviewing this book. Aside from her mom dying and the divorce from her husband, I'm not sure a single other thing from this book actually happened.

    I call shenanigans.

  2. I know what her trail name is! It's "Liar"

    1. Don't even get me started on the (lack of) trail names in this book. It's a sticking point for me.

  3. Major turn off while watching the movie was after she changes her name to Strayed. I was done. The movie was over. Squinted my eyes and looked at my bf like are you kidding me?! Did that just happen? Turn this BS off. Think I'll change my name to Von Cray Cray? Because sometimes I'm cray.

    Hilarious blog. Can't stop reading.

  4. There were a number of things that bothered me about the book (much more so now, of course, having read 28 chapters of your blog), but, oddly, this one incident about the boot especially troubled me. I found appalling the fact that she tosses her boot like garbage into (as you so eloquently state) the “untouched wilderness.” Littering is an act of immense selfishness. Doing so in a nature trail – a treasure made for and presumably used by those most loving and caring of nature, makes the act even worse. It really bothered me that she didn’t even mention an inkling of remorse about littering the trail with her shoe garbage. Even if it never happened (as I am coming to realize that much of what she wrote was fiction), it is sad that she thought it was acceptable to say that it did.

    1. Hikers will carry their shit 50 miles if they can't dig a hole. Why? Because they respect the trail. Except Cheryl fucking Strayed. Because for some reason she's the most special special who ever specialed and is exempt from all written and unwritten laws of the land.

      I'm trying to find a reason why her mother was so amazing because she raised one shitty human being.

  5. I've never hiked the PCT but it my understanding teh area she would be in isn't very high in altitude. No mountains, no high peaks. Couldnt' she just have scrambled down the slope and picked up her boot?