Thursday, January 8, 2015

Part Twenty-Nine of a review of "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Chapter Fourteen, Cheryl is Too Wrecked to Masturbate

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

Part Twenty-nine, Chapter Fourteen: Cheryl is Too Wrecked to Masturbate

Chapter Fourteen is called "Wild" because Cheryl is a terrible writer.  The book is called "Wild;" Part Four is called "Wild;" Chapter Fourteen is called "Wild."  All I can do is sigh heavily and roll my eyes.  For someone who abuses a thesaurus so often, she sure missed an opportunity here.

This chapter starts out with expert-hiker Cheryl once again not understanding how hiking works and-- I know.  Shocking.  She wastes a couple paragraphs going Full Cheryl with her complaining-- "at times I almost wept with the relentlessness of it"-- and tries to explain how going uphill and then going downhill was super frustrating, "as if everything gained was inevitably lost," and no, you're just covering terrain and that's how that works, you stupid asshole.

She brings up Bigfoot again and she will continue to do so throughout the chapter because this fucking idiot sincerely believes in Bigfoot and we'll get back to this.

Okay, brace yourselves, something super OMG happens and you'll never believe what it is--

"Lost in a spiral of bitter thoughts on my second day out of Castle Crags, I nearly stepped on two rattlesnakes that sat coiled up on the trail within a few miles of each other."

How many times are we going to be subjected to this lie.  How.  Many.  Times.  YOU SAW A RATTLESNAKE, CHERYL.  YOU DID NOT ALMOST STEP ON ONE, LET ALONE TWO, OR FIVE, OR HOWEVER MANY MILLION YOU'RE UP TO NOW.

Cheryl stops to have lunch and falls asleep "without meaning to" and oh, for fuck's sake. She has some stupid dream about Bigfoot kidnapping her and then claims that she'd had the exact same Bigfoot dream the night before, so obviously this means something and Cheryl starts shitting her pants because,

"now that I'd had the dream twice, it seemed to carry more weight, as if the dream weren't really a dream but a foreboding sign--"

and please just shut the fuck up.

She meets up with Stacy and Rex that evening because of course she does and immediately starts her infantile "look-at-my-boo-boo" shit with her feet because she is constantly in need of attention and pity.  It's at this point when Rex brings up something called The Rainbow Gathering and how it's supposed to be happening just nine miles away and it's exactly the type of thing Cheryl loves.  So much, in fact,

"I clapped my hands in glee."

Stacy has never heard of The Rainbow Gathering and Cheryl has to explain it to her.  It will be quicker if I explain it:  it's a bunch of hippies in the forest, the end.  Cheryl is super excited to go to the gathering and she immediately takes a quick condom inventory-- yep, still there-- and then this happens:

"In the six weeks I'd been on the trail, I hadn't even masturbated, too wrecked by the end of each day to do anything but read and too repulsed by my own sweaty stench for my mind to move in any direction but sleep."
The three of them head out in the morning to go to The Rainbow Gathering and when they get to the place where the gathering is supposed to be taking place, there's no gathering.  "Rage and regret" well up in Cheryl.
"My disappointment felt tremendous and infantile, like I might have the sort of tantrum I hadn't had since I was three."
Or since you were at that water tower, or since Leif ruined the special table, or since you lost your boot, or since...
Boo-hoo, Cheryl's swamp-ass isn't gonna get laid, life is so unfair.  Suddenly, they hear a noise and it's not Bigfoot.  It's a truck with seven people in it.  The people were "ragtag and grubby, dressed in high hippy regalia," and looking for the gathering.  I'm not going to bother with the asinine dialogue that happens; just know that the guys all talk like assholes and the girls whine and complain because they're not hikers and non-hiking women are all a bunch of helpless, whiny bitches in Cheryl's mind.
All the non-hikers leave and Cheryl, Stacy and Rex meet up with some other hikers Cheryl barely bothered to mention in the past and they all hang out.  One of the hikers, Sam, comes up with a trail name for Cheryl and Cheryl is having none of it because she doesn't understand how trail names work.  You don't get to pick your own.
"Sam had joked that my trail name should be the Hapless Hiker... but I didn't want to be that hiker.  I wanted to be the hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian queen."
Cheryl gets up super-duper early the next morning, way earlier than everybody else, and says that she had her stupid Bigfoot dream yet again because no she didn't and then leaves before anyone else is awake and pffffffffft, okay.
An hour later, she hears "an enormous crashing in the bushes" and OMG, BIGFOOT, except not.  It was a bear and sure it was, so Cheryl starts singing dumb songs again because apparently bears are afraid of songs.  So is Bigfoot.
"It worked.  I didn't run into the bear again.  Or Bigfoot."

Cheryl has to cross some snow and you can imagine what a big dramatic to-do that was, but she totally survives and she finally stops for lunch.  The other hikers all catch up with her and she lets them hike ahead of her because she never actually hikes with anyone and isn't that convenient.  Later that afternoon, a white llama covered in jingle-bells comes "bounding" out of the wilderness straight for Cheryl and what the fuck.

A woman named Vera and a little kid named Kyle emerge from nowhere to come get Shooting Star (the llama) and blah, blah, blah, they all have a conversation that never happened and then, get a load of this nonsense, Kyle wants to sing Cheryl a song and you have to be fucking kidding me.

"...and without a moment's hesitation he sang every last lyric and verse of 'Red River Valley' in a voice so pure that I felt gutted.  'Thank you,' I said, half-demolished by the time he finished."
If only someone would gut and demolish you.
This bullshit finally ends and Cheryl keeps hiking until she finds a picnic table.  As she's lounging around, a deer approaches and,
"I sat still, watching her, not feeling even a little bit afraid,"

and good for you, Cheryl, way to not be afraid of a fucking deer, you're such a hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian queen.

Cheryl apparently is getting tired of writing about her pretend hike because she sums up who knows how many miles with, "I hiked alone the next few days," as if this is somehow different than what she's been doing, and now we have no idea where exactly she supposedly is on the trail other than she says she'd "passed the midpoint" and what the fuck does that mean.  This lack of detail makes fact-checking very difficult and that's likely the point.  Luckily, we're beyond the need for fact-checking.  She's full of shit and we all know it.

She watches the sunset one night even though she "could've been reading Dubliners" because remember, she's super smart.  As she's watching the sunset, she keeps using the word 'wild' in ways that make no sense while also managing to have a daddy-meltdown:

"Of all the wild things, his failure to love me the way he should have had always been the wildest thing of all."

I don't even.

Cheryl starts crying and because she's an amazing writer, she describes it as such:

"I cried and I cried and I cried."

It's like when she walked and walked and walked.  She's really good at this writing thing.  She really knows how to end a chapter.


  1. Thanks for another great review!

    I've been watching some of Cheryl's interviews online. She talks about how long she has been writing and how hard she works at it, which makes this all the more disturbing. She has been working hard at writing for over 20 years and THIS is what she comes up with? And she has an MFA in writing? (Maybe that is a really easy degree to get?) I mean, if she's going to LIE anyway, can't she at least make the lies a pleasure to read?

  2. She is contantly "wrecked" and "gutted" and of course, "shattered". It's a wonder the woman is still alive.

    I'm now convinced this entire tale was a fabrication for the sole purpose of tapping into the Oprah genre of feel-good nonsense books, and with the ultimate end goal of having it made into a movie. She was "pitching" it to Reese Witherspoon before the book was even finished.

    What's surprising is that Oprah fell for it a second time. You would have thought she (or her team) would have been much more cautious after having been burned before.

  3. I wanted to believe the movie. I hadn't read the book; I go to movies with some friends who like entertainment & aren't too picky about what they see. But some of the scenes were just ludicrous, as you know. Jimmy Carter has been transformed into a black guy. Why did she blow her damn rape whistle at what she thought was some animal or snake in her sleeping bag? (I laughed and laughed at that, but no one else did.) So many stupidities and unexplained inconsistencies...Thank you again for this blog, can't wait for your full review of the movie. (I checked my watch 3 times.)

    That this woman has an Master's Degree in writing is insane. I haven't written much in years, but dear Lord, I wrote better prose than this when I was in my early 20's. She has no excuse. It's absolute drivel. I didn't read it, but I have heard that "A Million Little Pieces" was at least written fairly well.

    1. Not only did Jimmy Carter turn into a black guy, but he also got to talk like a normal, current-day black person instead of an extra from "The Color Purple," so even if you didn't know that Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay, you'd accurately guess that Cheryl did not write the screenplay. I assume Jimmy turned black because there would otherwise be no black people in the movie and Cheryl is totally not a racist, so we couldn't have that.

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I know there are a few of us that didn't care for the book but the majority seem to love it. I can't figure it out.

    1. I can't figure it out, either. I've been to Goodreads, Amazon, etc...most seem to give it 4 stars. I've never not finished a book before...this one is going back to the library asap. Glad I didn't buy it! I started thinking: hmmm, A Million Little Pieces. At least "Pieces" was interesting. I'm a backpacker. That whole trail hike was a lie.

    2. I used to be a backpacker. I've fished at Kennedy meadows my whole and all over CA. And only ONE time in my life have I walked upon a rattlesnake. I she says it happened to her TWICE on that one hike?
      I walked upon a Ram once on Mt. Rose in Nevada, but never a bear. So, during this ONE hike she came across two snakes, a bear, 3 elks, a "rapist" a lama, a singing child, Bigfoot and a partridge in a pear tree? Wow.

  5. Hey I just wondered if you think that Cheryl is paying someone to remove negatives about her on the internet. I searched on "Cheryl Strayed fraud" and "Cheryl Strayed liar" and not a thing came up except her personal website, Wiki, the movie website, and positive interviews. This is unheard of - people *always* have at least some bad press about them, especially when they write an obviously concocted book which is made into a movie. But..nothing.

    1. I'm not the blog author but I have a feeling you're closer to the truth than you think. It's not so much that there's nothing bad since the book came out- it's that there's absolutely NOTHING, period, about her hike or the people in her book outside of her interviews. It's hard to prove a negative- absence of evidence is not absence of existence and all that jazz. But, no evidence of something she claimed happened (no verified witnesses, no one coming forward to self identify, and not ONE person who wrote about her or shared a picture) this far out....???? It's not our responsibility or burden to prove she didn't hike the trail. It's her burden to prove she did and we've already shown how her story is full of holes and the mileage are fubar! All Strayed need do is present one verified PCT hiker who will claim they hiked with her who can produce some sort of evidence that they, too, we're on the trail that year. Out of the hundreds who attempted it that year.... not one can come forward? The thru hiking community can be a very tight group. Old thru hikers tend to become trail angels (as I have) and we have group camps and section hikes. Not one person, in my twenty plus years near the PCT, knew Cheryl before the book. And, since we know she didn't have a trail name and went by Cheryl Strayed, there's no reason she should be unknown....unless she didn't hike it as she claims. There are five nails in her coffin, as I see it:
      1. No witnesses.
      2. Mileage problems (she can only do three hours one day, but someone did 50 miles the next day?).
      3. Trail ledgers. She isn't in some that she should be.
      4. The physical condition of her feet. It's not that hiking on sore feet is unheard of, it's that the injuries she describes would, especially walking on tape, lead to serious infection and Permanent injury.
      5. She has no evidence she hiked the PCT other than her word. Name a trail I have done, I could give you the names of three people who were involved. Cheryl hiked, allegedly, over1000 miles,....but no one verifies it?

    2. Another thing - I really hated the way the movie opened up, with the noise that sounded like she was having an orgasm, when she was supposedly climbing up a mountain & ripping off her big toenail, then losing her boot. I agree about the injuries. The whole premise is silly. There was a movie about El Camino de Santiago, called "The Way," where this father goes to pick up his son's remains & then decides to hike the 500 mile Camino, and that is fiction although some was filmed on the trail itself. He was not in shape & not prepared yet they never show him with even 1 blister or shin splint or anything, so I found it hard to suspend my basic knowledge of hiking and just ignore that obvious problem. You don't just start out on a hike of 500 miles wearing your son's boots and with no training! But Ms. Strayed (how contrived a name is that anyway?) just up and decides to do this without one ounce of preparation, doesn't even know how to use a compass? I think if she had really hiked the trail, she surely would have died.

    3. Excellent posts here. Kudos. You would think that if there were people out there who could corroborate her tale they'd be happy to step forward to get their 15 minutes of fame. But of course, not a single person had done so.

      I think what galls me the most about this book (and now movie) isn't that Cheryl fabricated a story for the purposes of writing a book. It also isn't that the book is so bad (which it is). No, the part that really bugs me is that so many people are lapping this nonsense up.

      Her book was celebrated by people who thought it was a wonderful tale of redemption told by a strong woman who wasn't afraid to shine a harsh light on her failures. And now the movie is being celebrated as the same. But nobody is seeing through this colossal lie of a tale and recognizing that she is full of shit.

      Instead of celebrating her, people should be lambasting her (as this blog does so well). The fact that she has hoodwinked so many people just makes me shake my head.

    4. Well, the person she's paying hasn't found this blog yet because if you type "I hate Cheryl Strayed" or "Cheryl Strayed liar" into Google, this blog pops right up on the first page of results. Maybe she hired Oprah's fact-checker to do the job.

      I don't think anyone bothered to fact-check this bullshit because the average American's attention span is about four minutes long. Maybe they knew that this was all bullshit but knew that people are dumb enough to believe anything, and even if the truth eventually came out, no one would pay much attention and everyone could continue to make a fortune off of it. I've given up trying to understand people.

    5. I think you are being generous with the four minutes...

    6. Haha I'd love to see what search terms return this blog, I bet they're hilarious. I found it (thank you, by the way Cali it is awesome) by searching google for something similar to "wtf is chewable opium?"

  6. Cheryl "strayed"...that bad metaphor of a nom de plume alone should have been clue enough about the inanity that follows in this book (and movie) continually chronicles how badly someone can attempt to hike and then write even worse about it...I refuse to elaborate any further on my reasons, reading the previous comments have already done an excellent job...the inability to recognize her incompetence in hiking made me search out her supposed "advice" column...and Cheryl again "strayed" into an area that she again demonstrated her incompetence...I can't go on, she is possibly the greatest antithesis to the Barefoot Sisters or Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods"...nuff

  7. She happens upon a flaxen-haired elven boy who sings Country lullabies ? And he's got a llama ? Far out.

  8. I just watched part of the movie. The first part without Bigfoot. Anyway, I found this site and read one other chapter and wasn't getting this whole "hate Cheyrl thing" until I read that she wrote this about coming across a deer:

    "I sat still, watching her, not feeling even a little bit afraid,"

    Of a fucking deer?? Ok that, and the "I didn't even masturbate" as if that's something to take pride in or us to feel sorry for her about? Yeah I'm starting the understand this "hate Cheyrl thing." I think I'll read on.... (A fucking deer??)