Most of my friends know that I don’t especially love reading non-fiction. When I pick up a book, I usually prefer to escape the real world and go to a fictional place.
But a dear friend from childhood – the friend I totally and completely bonded with in fifth grade because we both loved reading and loathed field day in equally passionate measure – has enthusiastically taken up with camping and hiking. For months, she kept telling me to read Jennifer Pharr Davis’ Becoming Odyssa, a book Davis wrote after hiking the Appalachian Trail. I figured I’d get around to reading it some day.
The same friend loaned me her copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Her prologue begins with her looking out over the trees:
The trees were tall, but I was taller, standing above them on a steep
mountain slope in northern California. Moments before, I’d removed
my hiking boots and the left one had fallen into those trees, first cata-
pulting into the air when my enormous backpack toppled onto it, then
skittering across the gravelly trail and flying over the edge. It bounced
off of a rocky outcropping several feet beneath me before disappearing
into the forest canopy below, impossible to retrieve. (3)
She had me hooked. That was the start of my adventures into trail tales. And because I surprised myself by actually enjoying a book about Strayed’s solo hike, I picked up Becoming Odyssa, too.
Those of you who know me best may be wondering why I’d even read the stories of women hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail (Cheryl Strayed) and the Appalachian Trail (Jennifer Pharr Davis), given my own aversion to lots of outdoorsy activities and critters. Like stream crossings and big spiders and a lack of hot running water. But most especially snakes. Continue reading