|When I had no roof, I made audacity my roof- Robert Pinsky|
She didn't choose an easy route to hike. The Appalachian Trail is easier to hike than the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail is out West: Oregon, California, Washington State,etc. The Appalachian is a trail through Georgia and up to Maine. The author briefly compares and contrasts the two routes in her book. The Pacific Trail is cruel. It's like a man who beats up an old lady and takes her money. I thought it was fitting when Cheryl Strayed met the two or three men who seemed to want something more than a hike. Their intentions were anything but nice. After meeting those men Cheryl Strayed felt humiliated, frightened and a bit unclean just like she felt at different times on the PCT. The trail raped her soul and heart before it ever gave anything back to her. In the end she received the gift of seeing her inner and outer self in a clearer and brighter light. I doubt if before the journey Cheryl Strayed knew exactly what her toenails looked like. She definitely didn't know what the toes looked like after the nails dropped off. The trail filters out the pond smudge like a water filter. Cheryl Strayed is the water. After the climb she would feel clean and clear like fresh spring water discovered in the mountains. No wonder she would be named The Queen of the PCT after ending her travels. "There was the woman I was before my mom died and the one I was now, my old life sitting on the surface of me like a bruise."
Along the way the author meets a few other people walking at their pace through the trail. Some choose to walk through heavy snow and some choose to bypass such a hardship. The memoir is all about shifting, leaving behind and picking up what is most needed. It makes sense that her backpack is named Monster. Monster, to me, symbolized the burdens she carried in her heart. Those heart burdens, as I wrote, were monstrous and painful. Monster will help her learn about loneliness and being alone. "Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, so if it weren't a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to..."
It is fitting that Cheryl Strayed is the only woman the men meet on the trail at that time. Her backpack is almost too heavy for the men to pick up. I think women carry heavier and bigger emotional baggage in the than men. I think we carry love on our shoulder. I am always aware if anyone tries to give me love or take it from me. Women will fight for love to never end. They don't give up quickly. The thought is that everything will be alright in time. Hope and love are a woman's battle gear.
In conclusion it's a memoir not just about traveling a physical trail, but also it's about traveling life's emotional trail where anything can happen to tear apart our will to exist from day to day and chance never seeing the light of another morning. Cheryl Strayed ends the memoir with gratefulness. "Thank you, I thought over and over again. Thank you. Not just for the long walk, but for everything I could feel finally gathered up..."