I just finished reading Wild…From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I loved it..it was so perfect for my state of mind that I mourned when it ended.

Author Cheryl Strayed describes with incredible vividness how, in her mid-twenties, she decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail as a last ditch effort to save herself from a life that had spiraled out of control after the death of her mother. With no prior training or backpacking experience, she loaded up a pack she dubbed The Monster, and staggered out the door of a cut-rate motel in the Mojave Desert, taking the first steps of an 1100 mile journey through California and Oregon to the Washington border, walking mostly alone.

As her body starts to toughen up, the journey gets easier in some ways but it never gets easy. Ice and snow, broiling desert, wild animals, creepy men encountered on the trail…the challenges are unrelenting, right up to the last few weeks of the three-month journey.

The book is gorgeously written, with many sentences that demand to be read a second time because they’re so good. I loved this:

I walked beneath the enormous trees, the forest canopy high above me, the bushes and low-growing plants that edged the trail soaking me as I brushed past. Wet and miserable as it was, the forest was magical – Gothic in its green grandiosity, both luminous and dark, so lavish in its fecundity that it looked surreal, as if I were walking through a fairy tale rather than the actual world.

Part of what resonated about the book is the fundamental truth:  life is hard. At times it can feel like carrying a Monster pack on your back, but even then, there are moments when light shines through. And sometimes all we can do is take the next step, and then the next one. If we can accept that, then we can probably make it all the way.