The date on Darwin’s Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) permit is growing ever closer. I am preparing in the nerdiest way by reading about the PCT and the people who have hiked it. Girl In The Woods is yet another book I have read in exploring the PCT via another person’s perspective.
With a background working with survivors of abuse, Girl In The Woods really struck me differently then expected. I felt I read this book more as a victim advocate rather than as a hiker. Author Aspen Matis very openly discusses her life leading up to her thru-hike of the PCT that involves an unhealthy home life, being raped in college, and various other detrimental relationships in her life. As so many have done before, Matis finds herself and healing powers out in nature.
I should be upfront and mention that Matis clearly describes her rape, the victim-blaming she experiences, and the lack of support from her family and friends. All of this can be extremely triggering for any survivors of sexual or domestic abuse. I feel it should also be mentioned that although this book does discuss the PCT and Matis does hike it, the PCT plays a minor role in the book. Matis writes more about her personal thoughts and feelings in regards to her relationships while hiking the trail and focuses less on terrain, gear, etc. Someone who wants to “experience” the trail vicariously through another should not expect to do so with this book. Writing A Girl In The Woods is clearly another step in Matis’ healing. She takes the reader along with her on an amazing journey of personal growth rather than a journey solely focused on the trail.
When looking more at the hiking aspects of this book, Matis does discuss her outdoors experience explaining she has always found comfort and security out in nature. Ultimately at a time when she feels the most disconnected from herself and family she makes the somewhat rash decision to hike the PCT in its entirety. It can be at times cringe-worthy to read Matis’ gear decisions putting herself in danger of exposure along with various other decisions she makes on the trail. She often does not listen to her own body and allows other hikers to make decisions for her. Overtime, however, Matis slowly starts to learn from her choices, finding confidence in herself and learning she is worthy of respect and love.
Overall Matis’ book when looked at solely via the eyes of a hiker, can be a guide of things not to do in prepping and hiking for a long-distance trail but again I feel the “hike” is not the main point of the book and regardless, she hikes it her own way. Matis is very transparent in her writing and the story she is telling. An engaging read, Girl In The Woods is more about the girl and less about the woods, which I feel isn’t a bad thing.
To Learn More About Aspen Matis, Visit Her Website By Clicking HERE!
You Can Find Girl In the Woods via this Link on Amazon http://amzn.to/2FMWzd2 Or Check Out Your Local Library!
(Aspen at a book signing; Cover of Girl In The Woods)
(Pictures borrowed from aspen-matis.com)
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