An Interview with Author Cheryl Strayed at the 2020 San Diego Travel & Adventure Show

Cheryl Strayed, author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Wild, spoke at the 2020 San Diego Travel & Adventure Show. Wild describes the sometimes harrowing, other times hilarious stories behind her solo wilderness trek on the Pacific Crest Trail and the personal journey that led her there. In her talk, Strayed discussed what she learned about how we bear the unbearable, how we move from grief and anger to acceptance, and how we keep walking even when it seems impossible to stand. 

ConciergeQ host Doug Mason spoke with Cheryl after her speech at the the 2020 San Diego Travel & Adventure Show.

Doug Mason: Why did you decide to hike the Mojave Desert? It isn’t really user friendly?

Cheryl Strayed: I knew I had about three months to hike. I was reading the map and knew where I wanted to end up. I also loved the idea of beginning in the desert and walking north into the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. So to have the experience of entering the mountain range that way, I thought it would be very powerful. It ended up being harder than I thought though, but it was an adventure.

DM: What would be the one piece of advice you would give to a young man or woman who is experiencing challenges in their life and would like to take a similar journey?

CS: To trust yourself and do it. I think the one great thing about wilderness travel is that it really does require you to find your strength—to find your courage. In so many ways, when you venture out into the wildness, what you really are doing is trying to find your own connection to others. The wilderness allows you time to reflect and find where your place in the world is. I found the path that I am now on during that hike. So, I just tell people to do it. Trust it is going to be a good thing, even though it’s a hard thing.

DM: On your journey you had patiences. Can you speak about that?

CS: Yes, a lot of patience, and really surrendering to the moment. When you are on a long hike it can be monotonous, and it can be boring. I was out there alone. I was often singing to myself and doing all kinds of things to stop boredom, but the cumulative effect was a powerful one.

DM: ConciergeQ is a travel and entertainment magazine. What is your favorite travel song?

CS: I’ve been asked so many questions… I don’t know if I have ever been asked that. I can’t think of a road trip song, but the song that came right into my mind when you were asking this was “Wild World.” Cat Stevens did it many years ago and then all these different bands have covered that song. I love that lyric: “Ooh baby baby, it's a wild world.” It is a wild world.

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