When Cheryl Strayed’s mom died suddenly of cancer, she tried to cope with her loss using sex, heroin and self-destructive behaviors. Cheryl desperately needed to change her course.
Her turning point came when she saw a Pacific Crest Trail guide book. Something about the book made her want to become a hiker. Instead of using rehab to change her life, she visits an REI store to buy hiking gear to begin her transformation.
With no prior backpacking experience, Cheryl set off alone on her 1,100 mile PCT trail hike in 1995. Her best selling book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” was made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon portraying her life transforming journey.
Reese does a fantastic job of making us connect with the ordeals and challenges of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Here are 7 Lessons From the Wild Movie
1. Prepare for Your Journey
While you can’t fault Cheryl Strayed for inaction, the scene of Reese Witherspoon sitting on the edge of a cliff nursing her blisters and peeling off her toenails was a gruesome reminder to prepare for hiking long distances.
Work up to longer treks by testing your hiking boots with your backpack on small day hikes.
2. Planning Your Essentials
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is grueling. Cheryl hiked in blistering heat as well as freezing snow.
Planning essentials was not an easy task. Cheryl bought out the REI store for her journey. As an inexperienced hiker, she made a combination of brilliant and horrible decisions.
Minor inconveniences like eating cold mush for several days won’t kill you. However, not planning for hydration, proper clothing, etc. can be life threatening so research the gear and clothing needed for your hiking conditions.
3. Lighten Your Load
When standing in an air conditioned hiking store, it is easy to forget about the weight of your purchases. When she packed all of her gear, Cheryl could barely lift her backpack that she nicknamed Monster.
After damaging her feet, Cheryl Strayed got the help of an expert to remove non-essentials. Ounces add up to pounds.
Always streamline and go for lightweight essentials.
4. Care Packages
Cheryl didn’t have to carry the total supplies for her full journey. At strategic points on the trail, Cheryl revisited civilization to regroup and pick up care packages mailed to her from her ex-husband.
These stops, also, allowed her to rethink her hiking essentials. This was a very smart move.
5. REI Hiking Boot Guarantee
Who would have guessed that you could walk for miles, get bloody blisters, throw your hiking boots off a cliff and still get replacements shipped to the trail without returning the boots first!
In real life, REI probably won’t be quite as generous, but their accommodating customer service says to give them a call to discuss your warranty concerns. REI does have a very liberal 1 year guarantee which includes warranty shipment to your hiking location.
It is hard to forget the REI guarantee after seeing this movie.
6. Safety in Numbers
Even though this is a story about a healing solo trek . . . walking hundreds of miles in the wilderness poses real dangers for anyone.
The movie depicts some of Cheryl’s perils. She is blessed to have survived. Consider sharing your journey with a walking buddy for safety.
7. Reaching Your Goals
Cheryl Strayed said, “I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go.”
All of us have dreams and visions but few of us act on them. We see brighter futures but maintain the status quo in our lives.
Once Cheryl saw herself as a PCT hiker, she took the actions necessary to become a PCT hiker. With each step on the trail Cheryl moved further from her self-destructive past to a new identity.
When she finished her hike, she saw herself as a writer and wrote a book. She became a best-selling author. Her book was made into a movie.
Cheryl Strayed played a minor role as an actress in the movie. Plus she was the movie’s consultant.
Her life’s path inspires others to make their dreams a reality one step at a time.