Sunday, July 8, 2012

Reading: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After reading Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild, about her hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, I will never ever again complain about my feet hurting. In the opening scene, she describes the moment when, half way through her hike, as she is sitting at a vista overlooking a mountain range, her hiking boot falls over a cliff. Irretrievable, she has no choice but to continue on without it.

It reminded me about a day last summer when it rained so hard in Paris that my well-worn walking shoes literally fell apart right there on my feet, right there on the street. I was lucky. I ducked into a shop and bought a cheap pair to get me home (The shopkeeper was likely horrified by my nude, dirty, wet feet). Cheryl had to hike for days until a replacement pair arrived at a lone outpost along the way.

Feet are a miracle. I've done more than my share of urban hiking over the last year. At the end of big hike days, as I lay in bed sifting through the daily harvest of photos, I wonder if my feet will ever heal from the ache. Sometimes my feet pulse with pain, the fresh blisters sting and the bottoms burn. Then there are the times I feel something crunching inside. Then I think I've really done it now. I've done something irreversible. And fall asleep worrying for my poor peds. But when I wake up, my feet are pain-free and I'm ready to take to the cobblestone streets once again.

Miracles, I tell you. The feet are miracles. 

The pharmacies of Paris have entire walls dedicated to foot care. Blister bandages and Dr. Scholl's products are available around every corner. And on park benches, you'll see shoeless ladies looking at their bare feet as they open their newly purchased boxes of bandaids. Two words: Ballerina toes. Yikes.

But we can't help ourselves. Paris is the most lovely, most walkable city in the world. Just today I walked down a street I'd never seen before. I was rewarded with another piece of street art from one of my favorite street artists.

Despite my extensive urban hike training, after reading Wild, I have no interest in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. One reason: She named her backpack Monster.

Non merci.


  1. Haha I am in the middle of reading this book and feel the same way you do. In the beginning, I was thinking, "Wow, this could be fun. I should do this." But now that I am halfway through my verdict has switched to, "Umm...this is not for me!"

    1. I like my toe nails too much to hike that trail.

  2. I recently read the interview she did with Oprah about her book. It truly sounded like a wretched experience but one she needed. Is it worth the read?

  3. Wild is definitely worth the read. Along with the physical difficulty, there were lovely moments of peace and forgiveness of herself, her family and those she loved along the way.

  4. No wilds for me but I do appreciate the strength and courage of those who go there.

  5. I seem to remember your feet taking a beating when you walked all the way across town to meet Mr. W and me in Rome. They are tough little cookies!

  6. Watch every step unlike your
    mother.Everything is on the mend,still very tender though so Im keepng my eyes down at all times.

  7. AnonymousJuly 12, 2012

    Seriously? A hiker that goes into the wild called Strayed? Now THAT is funny! What an appropriate name!


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