Getting Beyond Wild

In 1995, following the death of her mother and the collapse of her first marriage, Cheryl Strayed set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Some 1,100 miles later, readers were given Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, detailing Strayed's adventures in getting lost and thereby finding herself. "It had to do with how it felt to be wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to bear witness.... The experience was powerful and fundamental."

That yearning for the powerful and fundamental, the escapism and seclusion and a connection with the natural world, is not particular to Strayed. Following her rape by a fellow college student, Aspen Matis sought healing and solitude on the PCT. Girl in the Woods documents her five-month, 2,600-mile solo trek from Mexico to Canada along the trail, finding strength in her own self-reliance. In Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, Suzanne Roberts writes less about escaping a trauma of her past than facing the uncertainty of her future. Lacking a post-college plan, Roberts agreed to hike the trail with two other women; her book explores the relationships among those women, as well as with the male-dominated world of hiking and nature writing.

Robert Moor's On Trails: An Exploration offers a history of the concept of trails as a whole: how they came to be, how they are both shaped by and shape the landscapes in which they fall, and how they connect us to each other and to the greater world.

Any one of these stories will leave readers wondering what a hike, large or small, may yet reveal about themselves. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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