After reading Cheryl Strayed’s powerful memoir, Wild, Oprah was so inspired that she decided to reinvent her book club. As part of Super Soul Sunday, Oprah invited the author to her house in Santa Barbara where they sat beneath the redwoods in her front yard. For almost ninety minutes, the two women discussed the novel and Cheryl’s need to spend three months traveling the 1100 mile Pacific Crest Trail by herself.
At age 22, Cheryl’s life took a downward turn. After her 45-year-old mother died of cancer, Cheryl’s wild love turned into wild sorrow and then she went wild into her life. Hungry for affirmation, she sought the company of other men and did heroin.
Three years later, Cheryl’s car broke down on a snowy night. She went into a camping store to buy a shovel to literally dig herself out. While waiting to pay, she glanced at a guidebook about the Pacific Crest Trail. The next day, she returned to buy the book. Six months later, she started her hike from the Mojave Desert to Oregon.
While Cheryl was not a stranger to the wilderness, she had no experience as a long distance hiker. Throughout the interview, Oprah commented that she would have given up at many points along the trail.
- Cheryl’s backpack was more than half her weight and she could barely stand up on the first day of the trek.
- Her boots were too small and a constant source of pain. She lost six toenails. At one point, Cheryl threw away the boots, wrapped her feet in duct tape and continued.
- Cheryl ran out of water several times.
- One evening, Cheryl spent the night under the stars. In the morning, she woke up and felt cool, wet hands on her body. She was entirely covered in black frogs.
- While she wasn’t afraid of the animals, she experienced fear when encountering several male hunters who made suggestive comments.
- She had only twenty cents left at the end of the hike.
- God is not a grantor of wishes.
- I needed to carry the weight I couldn’t bear.
- The universe will take whatever it takes and not give anything back.
- I found solace in trail magic–unexpected sweet happenings that stand out in relation to the challenges of the trail (e.g. sunsets).
- Big things happened because I was not going to let fear hold me back.