Tag: life

10 Ways “Wild” Rang True and 10 Ways it Strayed

The movie Wild will soon draw many new day hikers, section hikers, and thru hikers to the Pacific Crest Trail. With the release of the movie, we decided to compare Cheryl Strayed’s hike to an actual Pacific Crest Trail thru hike from Mexico to Canada. Here are 10 ways the movie was true to our PCT thru hiking experience, and 10 ways it strayed from the path.

Wild was right about:

Adventure. One reason thru hiking is so great is that it’s a big adventure. Every day on the trail there are unexpected moments, surprising encounters with animals and people, or incredible new landscapes. The movie got this right — a thru hike isn’t always easy, but it’s exciting and new.

Crossing a creek on the PCT
Crossing a creek on the PCT

Trail angels. We’ve never received so much kindness from strangers as we did during our PCT thru hike. Called “trail angels” in the hiking community, these wonderful people offer free food, places to sleep, showers, rides to trailheads, and anything else a hiker might desire.

Timberline Lodge buffet

Hiker hunger. A thru hiker needs to eat about 4000 calories every day, which results in a ravenous appetite. Everything tastes good, and more of everything tastes better. We even started calling peanut M&Ms “magic energy gems”. After eating lots of dehydrated food, fresh fruit is an object of special desire. A ripe peach, as Cheryl was seen eyeing in Wild, will blow your mind.

Trail registers. Thru hikers use trail registers to keep track of each other, share wisdom, and leave a bit of laughter for those who follow on the trail. Some hikers leave quotes like Cheryl did, while others write whatever comes to mind.

Hitchhiking. Thru hikers have to hitchhike occasionally in order to reach towns where they can resupply. When we hitchhiked we met all types of people. As with the Hobo Times scene in Wild, it’s true, people do mistake thru hikers for homeless people.

Wildlife. Spend enough time in the wilderness and you will encounter wild animals. Rattlesnakes are no joke, but their distinctive rattle makes their presence known so you can scoot by at a safe distance, just as Cheryl does in the film. On our thru hike, we also saw several bears, many eagles and hawks, elk, mountain goats, a scorpion, a marten, and much more — but not a single fox, sorry Cheryl.

Wild Movie Review

The new movie Wild depicts a woman’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. Since we hiked the whole 2660-mile trail in 2012, we were curious about it and thought you might be too. Anna’s brother Joe Sofranko and his girlfriend Lili Fuller saw Wild on opening day in Los Angeles and kindly wrote this review for us.

Joe and Lili offer a unique perspective on the movie because they work in the film industry. They recently produced and directed Complete Works, a funny indie web series on Hulu about a Shakespeare competition. Not only that, but they have read every word of our Pacific Crest Trail thru hike blog entries, and even hiked the PCT with us for a day in Southern California.  Here’s what they thought about Wild:

Cheryl Strayed needed a change. Recently divorced, a recovering heroin addict, a victim of her father’s domestic abuse, having just terminated an unwanted pregnancy, and still grieving over her mother’s much-too-soon death, the 26-year-old Cheryl has had her fair share of emotional trauma. Seeking clarity, she determinedly (yet somewhat cluelessly) embarks on a journey on the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself. Based on Strayed’s best-selling and Oprah-approved memoir, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” the movie, starring Reese Witherspoon, brings to life the true story of her 1,100 mile journey. Told with humor and emotional depth, the film—while not at all a guide to successfully hiking the PCT—is a tale of a woman finding acceptance and peace by immersing herself in the unknown.

Reflections on 2013

2013 was a challenging and eventful year for us. The year was filled with a mix of emotions–anticipation, joy, frustration, and excitement. It wasn’t the year we had planned, but it was full and that’s how we like it.

Our PCT book in the window of the Roads, Rivers, and Trails store
Our PCT book in the window of the Roads, Rivers, and Trails store

The most memorable events were:

  • Completing our book Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs. Before the book was finished, a friend told us that publishing a book was like giving birth to a baby. We were skeptical when we first heard this comparison, but there is truth in it. Our publishing experience was emotional, painful, and hugely time-intensive. It feels like a part of us is embedded in the book. Once it was printed, we were simultaneously proud and nervous to send our creation into the world. And of course, the work isn’t done. We must constantly support the book and find new people to love it as much as we do.
  • Hiking 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Each day introduced us to new sights, people, sounds, and smells. We love the simplicity of living in nature. Our hike was cut short by a terrible case of shingles, but that did not diminish the unique experiences we had on the AT.
    Anna crossing a creek on the Appalachian Trail
    Anna crossing a creek on the Appalachian Trail

Engaged in Glacier National Park!

A glacier near the trail to Boulder Pass
View of Agassiz Glacier from the Boulder Pass Trail

Glacier National Park is one of our favorite places on the planet. It had been three years since our last trip to the park and we decided it was time to visit again. Apparently lots of other people felt the same way, because even in mid-September, we found backcountry campsites were popular and permits were sparse. Fortunately we managed to reserve campsites for a 4 day trip starting at Kintla Lake and heading up to Boulder Pass, then back down to the lake. The trip ended up being a very memorable one!

Day 1: Kintla Lake Trailhead to Upper Kintla Lake Backcountry Camp (11.6 miles)

We began our journey walking around the edge of Kintla Lake. The trail followed the shoreline at first, then broke away, climbing uphill. When the trail rejoined the lake, we gawked at the dramatic peaks surrounding us. It was a gorgeous day. The sharp laughs of loons echoed across the calm lake.

Anna at Kintla Lake
Anna at Kintla Lake

After a few miles of walking we reached the end of the lake. The trail continued through a burned area. Most of the pines had been killed by the flames, but many of these dead trees were still standing. To our left loomed the Boundary Mountains, so named because they sit on the border with Canada.

Eventually the burned area ended and we reached Upper Kintla Lake. This pristine lake is contained by massive peaks towering thousands of feet above.