I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Wild for months now. I read the book two years ago after I finished hiking the Appalachian Trail, and I was absolutely thrilled when I found out there would be a movie. I had to wait for the movie to be released in my city, and this past weekend there was only one theater in all of Denver playing it. I drove to Esquire Theater to find a line out the door of mostly women waiting to buy their tickets to Wild. I hadn’t seen that many ladies wearing puffy jackets in one place since the last time I went to an REI garage sale.
What did I think overall of Wild?
The movie accurately depicts long-distance hiking. It opens with a scene of Cheryl ripping a toenail off; her too tight boots have completely wrecked her feet. She signs trail registers the whole way with quotes from her favorite authors. Her circa 90’s gear is actual real backpacking gear. Her gigantic pack reminded me of my first backpacking trip when I had far more gear than I needed. There are funny yet annoying aspects of trail life shown: her tent catches in the wind while she’s trying to set it up, and she struggles trying to use her WhisperLite stove (seriously though, I HATE WhisperLites). There were just so many scenes where I found myself nodding along, like, “I feel ya, girl.”
It shows what it’s like to be a woman traveling solo. There are lots of aspects of traveling solo as a lady that are great: it’s easy to hitch-hike, you often get free snacks, people welcome you into their homes, and people seem to remember your name. There’s also aspects that suck: you have to be weary of people who do pick you up while hitch-hiking, a free donut often comes with a comment about your appearance, and sometimes you have to fear for your well-being. One particularly frightening scene was when there were two hunters making crude comments toward Cheryl, then one secretly stuck around behind a tree to watch her change her clothes.
It’s not a thru-hiking documentary. While I’ve watched plenty of thru-hiking documentaries, I have to say that most of them are not that interesting. Watching someone hike is not really exciting. This is more of a story about Cheryl. We see all of the things that led her to the PCT. Her struggles on the trail are coupled with the struggles of her personal life. We see all of her flaws that make her a real human being. We watch her hit rock bottom and then, like her mom wanted, find her best self.
I have heard other hikers say that there’s going to be a crowd of newbie Wild fans on the trail next year. Well, I will be on the PCT next year, and I look forward to seeing an influx in female hikers. I think it’s great if someone can see a bit of themselves in Cheryl and in turn find the inspiration to do a long distance hike.
Find out where Wild is playing near you: http://theaters.howwilditwas.com/
Book and Soundtrack Giveaway!!!
Leave your email address in the comments to enter to win a free copy of the book and a soundtrack (sorry, it’s only open to U.S. mailing addresses). I’ll send you an email if you win!
***Update: The giveaway is closed and we have a winner. Congrats to Maggie!!!