Cheryl Strayed’s Movie, ‘Wild’, Should Ratchet Up the Number of Female Hikers on Pacific Crest Trail
“You should have seen how many people were at the Kickoff this year,” several people have told me. They are referring to the annual Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Kickoff Party at Lake Morena County State Park. I went in 2009 and it was one of the most special events I have ever had the privilege to attend.
Ex-PCT hikers throw this event on behalf of the current year’s crop of thru-hikers, and it is not to be missed. Besides being fed like stuffed pigs, ex-hikers give seminars on subjects ranging from water sources in the desert, to snow levels in the High Sierra, to bear canisters.
The Appalachian Trail has made great progress in terms of female participation, to the point that women represent approximately one out of every three thru-hikers and steadily rising. But it was clear from the outset that women were an endangered species on the PCT, perhaps due to its famed isolation. However sources at the PCT Kickoff tell me that the number of women attending and fanning out into the desert to attempt a thru-hike has ratcheted up sharply to the point that it is similar to the AT’s numbers.
And that is only bound to continue as Cheryl Strayed’s movie, Wild–From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, starring Reese Witherspoon,is coming out soon. This film features a women bearing the hardship of hiking through the desert and high mountains alone, as she attempts to recover from personal tragedy. Miss Strayed has become a virtual hero to many women; expect many others to emulate her feat.
My attitude about all hikers has always been very catholic–the more the better. In a country with so much anxiety, materialism, and obesity, it can only be good that more people are getting out into the ‘Great Outdoors’.
Bill Walker is the author fo Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago, and Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.