Wild… the movie


I’m really excited to see Wild, the movie based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling book. If you haven’t read it, give it a go. I really enjoyed it for the whole story – not just because a trail I deeply love is a big part of it.

The thing is, there’s been some negative talk about Strayed’s book and the movie throughout the thru-hiking community. I haven’t read all of the comments because I tend to distance myself from negativity in social media because it makes me feel grumpy. But some of it I happened upon and read anyway – I guess I can understand where the thought processes are coming from and since I’ve hiked the trail I can maybe even relate in a way, but I’m not entirely comfortable with myself for that. The comments I’m remembering as I write this are things like, “she barely hiked the trail,” and “now everybody’s going to come and jump on the trail unprepared and cause all kinds of problems.” The problems mentioned range from litter to forest fires to unnecessary search and rescue efforts. And while on a small scale some of that could happen, it doesn’t mean that thru-hikers that are on the trail for reasons other than being inspired by the book won’t cause any of these problems either. We are all people, basically the same from the very core of our humanness – we are capable of making mistakes no matter how prepared we are, and sometimes you don’t even know you’re unprepared until you’ve got that knot in your tummy and you’re whispering, “oh shit” under your breath.

Here’s the thing. It’s not called, “Wild. A thru-hike on the PCT,” or “Wild. A how-to guide to the PCT.” I think most people know this. It’s about this girl’s life struggles and the way she chose to deal with them and herself – and in my opinion, she chose one of THE best ways to do it! And she wrote about it. I think that’s pretty cool.

The book will inspire some to give the PCT a shot, and some will make it and some won’t. Just like everyone that’s already attempted it every other year. Who cares how they’re inspired? They’ll get out there, meet other hikers, learn a LOT, and hopefully have a safe, amazing, soul-finding journey. Just like I did. Just like a lot of us did. And you gotta’ start somewhere! I’m a fan of diving into something crazy and learning as you go. Life is short, man. It’s frickin’ precious. Sometimes you don’t have the time or patience to be a pro or “ready” for something big. Sometimes you just have to go for it. I totally get that. I admire the approach.

I read Wild before heading out on the PCT. I was in the planning stages of my thru-hike and was totally obsessed with everything PCT. So naturally when I heard about the best-selling book, I had to get my hands on it. I didn’t read it for advice or as a guide, and I was already plenty inspired. I read it because this girl went for a big ol’ hike and wrote about why she went… and her crazy experiences throughout the journey. And I loved it. There ya’ go friends. I loved Wild. It made me smile, it made me nervous and it made me cry. It gave me all kinds of emotions. The journey part of the story could have been anything besides the PCT and I’d have still enjoyed it.

So I’ll be watching the movie when it hits theatres in December, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’m excited to see places I might recognize from the trail in beautiful cinematic light on a big screen. I enjoyed the story and I really like Reese Witherspoon. I guess she not only plays Cheryl Strayed’s character, she also co-directed the movie with the director of Dallas Buyer’s Club, which I haven’t seen yet, but from what I hear is another great movie.

I’m no professional book or movie critic. In fact, I honestly don’t read a whole lot – it makes me fall asleep. And I can get into just about any movie within seconds and probably find enjoyment in it somehow, no matter what. And on top of that, my memory for movies I’ve seen is embarrassingly horrible. Adam and I will be talking about a movie… well here’s a very recent example:

Adam: (reads me a movie quote) Remember this quote from Fight Club?
Me: No.
Adam: Really? Don’t you remember that scene?
Me: No. I don’t even remember what it’s about except some people get together to fight with each other.
Adam: (excitedly) REALLY!? Do you remember the twist?
Me: (blushing) Um… There’s a twist?
Adam: What! Really? We have to watch it again! I’m so jealous! I WISH I could watch a movie again for the first time!

So yeah… my opinions on books and movies shouldn’t weigh too heavily on anyone’s mind. I just wanted to put it out there. I’m a PCT thru-hiker, and I’m a fan of Wild. And I’m pretty darn excited to see the movie. I hope it’s really successful, and I’m sure I’m going to love it.

Oh, and please don’t remind me of the twist in Fight Club – I’m going to see it for the second first time very soon! :)

Watch the WILD Trailer here (Reese Witherspoon – 2014): http://youtu.be/dHJDeIrq340

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)


5 thoughts on “Wild… the movie

  1. Robin,

    Thanks so much for defending Wild and Cheryl Strayed. I’ve heard a lot of the negative comments from other hikers about the book and I completely disagree with them. As you said, the book is only partly about hiking the PCT. Strayed uses it as a background to tell the more important story – her struggles finding herself after the death of her mother.

    A friend of mine is one of the haters. Her assessment of the book amounts to “Sheryl Strayed was SO dumb.” OK, regarding her being unprepared for the journey let’s consider the fact that she did it in the mid-90s. She even reminds us of this in the beginning of the book. There was very little information on the trail at that time. Basically a couple of books with really bad maps. The internet was in its infancy and there were no helpful blogs written by people who had already done the trail. Also keep in mind that the trail had been “officially” completed only 2 years before her journey. But really, in the end, how prepared are any of us? Until you step foot on the trail, you really don’t know. And you know what? As unprepared as she was, she kept going and she was fine.

    Lastly, regarding the “she only did part of it” comments. Thru hikers are a rare breed and their achievment is amazing, no doubt. But that shouldn’t lessen the achievements of people who “only” section hike. As a section hiker, I’ve endured thru hiker snobbery and, really guys, let it go. I’ll be the first to admit that my ambition doesn’t go as far as a complete thru hike but also keep in mind that a thru hike requires tremendous effort in terms of time and money. Not everyone has those things to spare. For me, getting the month of from work to hike Oregon was not easy.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog, Robin. You have a great spirit.

    • I agree with you! There is, unfortunately, some who get a little snooty with the thru-hike vs. section hiking thing and it makes me sad. It’s a hiking trail meant to be enjoyed – whether it be one mile or 2,660 miles. It’s just so nice to see people get out there and enjoy it however inspired to do so! It’s such an incredible trail! That’s one of the reasons I liked blogging while out there – it’s just another way to share the experience and inspire others! :)

  2. I loved the book as well, and after hearing Cheryl Strayed talk earlier this year I was an even bigger fan. She’s brutally honest – especially about herself – with a totally charming sharp wit. Just like the book. And her daughter plays the the young Cheryl in the movie! How cool is that? Thanks for this great post.

  3. Robin,

    I had never heard of the PCT until I read Wild. (And I live less than an hours drive from the Southern starting point!) That led to reading your blog. I enjoyed following your journey on the PCT.

    I’m sure someone completely unprepared will bite off more than they can chew after seeing the movie (as with any movie/book). Hopefully it will inspire people to power-down and get outside for a bit of soul searching and appreciation of nature. That would be wonderful!

    If you are ever near Alpine, California again, shoot me an e-mail. I’ll buy the first round at the Alpine Brewing Company.

    Stay safe on road!


  4. I read that book and loved it. And then I googled PCT and found your blog. And was obsessed with reading your whole journey.

    The only other time I’d heard about the PCT was several years ago when my niece did the Appalachian trail thru-hike. Google brought me to a PCT blog (back when it really wasn’t a thing), and this guy lived on candy bars and finished the same day that my niece did. So I thought that was cool.

    I generally don’t see movies in the theater (so much to do, so little sleep, so expensive babysitters), but this one I will!

    You have inspired me – I will likely never ever do anything like this, but I do live in California and I hope to hike small parts of most of the California sections over the next 16 years or so, as we vacation with the boys.

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