Talking Wild with Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

I consider a movie to be good when I find myself thinking about it the next day. My barometer is the same for a book although with most good reads I find myself thinking about them while I’m reading them as well as in the days or weeks after I finish them. That’s been the case with Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, a superbly crafted memoir that dazzles your senses every step of the way. Her story moved me so much that I plan to read it again, something I never do. Although why wouldn’t I? From beginning to end, I was gripped by this powerful tale of transformation, this raw account of one woman’s life-changing journey both literally and figuratively. Plus, as I learned in Wild, Cheryl often reads books more than once, so I’m eager to crack hers second time around.

Ten Days on the Trail June 1995

Ten Days on the Trail June 1995

Cheryl at Telluride's Local Bookstore Between the Covers

Cheryl at Telluride’s Local Bookstore Between the Covers after Our Radio Interview

As a New York Times bestseller, I had heard about Wild and planned to read it but hadn’t pick it up until the Mountainfilm book frenzy which took place in Telluride over Memorial Day weekend. Mountainfilm, an inspiring festival that showcases films, art shows, talks, book-signings, symposia and more, has been bringing a monolithic showing of thinkers and doers to our mountain town since 1979. This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the theme of the Mountainfilm symposium was the wilderness. I heard Cheryl speak during that program and was in awe of how she spoke of Wild, the story of a young woman that set out alone to hike more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) four years after having lost her mother. I found Cheryl to be an incredibly articulate speaker, something that’s not always the case with authors who are often more comfortable with the written word.

Cheryl at KOTO Telluride

Cheryl Strayed at KOTO Telluride

I always try to land a radio interview for my Travel Fun talk show at Mountainfilm. My most memorable standouts include Pico Iyer, Ken Burns, Dr. Wallace “J.” NicholsSuzan Beraza and Peter Young. So after the Memorial Day Mountainfilm picnic, Cheryl accompanied me to the quirky purple Victorian that houses KOTO, a veritable Telluride institution, to record a half-hour chat about Wild, the book and also the movie, starring Reese Witherspoon which will be released nationwide in December. Cheryl did not disappoint and she gave me a terrific Travel Fun interview that you can listen to below.

A few days later, I started to read Wild and have felt as though Cheryl’s story has touched countless aspects of my being. I’m sure many others feel this way which is why the book has resonated with so many readers. Wild will give you the gift of hope, courage and the feeling that anything’s possible. If you’re like me, it might even leave you with the desire to don a pair of hiking boots and go deep into the nearest woods in search of yourself. It also makes me want to discover parts of California and Oregon unknown to me. And, of course, it inspired me to read this marvelous book all over again, something I won’t delay much longer.

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