Cheryl Strayed is the author of four books, including the #1 New York Times Bestseller, Wild. Through her book, she shares her journey of hiking Pacific Crest Trail at 22 years old and dealing with the grief of losing her mother.
These events changed the course of Cheryl’s life and took her on an incredible adventure along the Pacific Crest Trail. It wasn’t until 10 years later that Cheryl shared her experience in a memoir.
As a writer, Cheryl has been committed to the power of story all her life. In our conversation, she reflects on her childhood and what’s changed since she’s become a mother herself. She shares her experience of personal transformation, what it was like publishing Wild, and what happened after sharing her book.
Growing up with a young mum and witnessing abuse
Learning to live ‘rich in love’ from her mother
Being a mother and how it’s changed her perspective
Dealing with the loss of her mother and leading up to the PCT
Deciding to hike the PCT from a place of weakness
“I knew that the wild places made me feel most full.”
Writing the book 10 years later
Figuring out who she was throughout her life
Having no one to rely on during her hike on the PCT and feeling empowered
Finding transformation in wilderness, physical challenge, and solitude
About ‘monster’, Cheryl’s backpack on the PCT
Feeling lucky to have made mistakes during her hike
“I had to learn how to live with the truth of my life. I had to learn how to carry those things.”
Being astounded by the beauty of the PCT and feeling gratitude
Understanding what was important about writing Wild
What it felt like having her personal story read by people around the world
“You have to be fearless when it comes to writing the truth.”
The values of a writer and how that helped Cheryl share her story
Dealing with people who don’t like her books
Teaching her kids to have emotional intelligence
Using the outdoors to cope with the emotional ups and downs
Having a revelation that grief is always with us and learning to live with it
What it was like finishing her hike of the PCT
Deciding what’s next after a big adventure
Meeting her husband 9 days after her hike
Sharing other people’s stories while telling her own
Being a writer mum and teaching her kids
Telling herself, “I’m not afraid.”
Sarah’s Appalachian Trail challenge
The pros and cons of being connected during an adventure
How Cheryl met Oprah
Measuring your success by doing all you can do
Watching Wild for the first time
Considering the ‘flawed’ label
Cheryl’s words of advice for people going through struggles
“Even the hardest times are only a moment. They are one part of a whole life.”
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