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DailyTidings.com
  • ASHLAND ON THE BEATEN PATH

    Following her footsteps

    'Wild' readers track the trail of author Cheryl Strayed
  • Like hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, author Cheryl Strayed's life moves in switchbacks.
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    • "Wild" triangle
      In her best-selling book, "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," author Cheryl Strayed devotes Chapter 15 to her three days in Ashland, traversing these spots:
      • Ashland Ho...
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      "Wild" triangle
      In her best-selling book, "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," author Cheryl Strayed devotes Chapter 15 to her three days in Ashland, traversing these spots:

      • Ashland Hostel, 150 N. Main St., gave Strayed her first warm shower after two weeks and a "real actual bed" in a former closet in the 1910 house.

      • Ashland Food Co-op, 237 N. First St., is where Strayed spent her last $2.29 on a bottle of organic lemonade, had her feet massaged and sat on a lawn that has since become part of the building, housing the deli, kitchen and eating area.

      • Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., was the site of a Jerry Garcia CD Retrospective that Strayed attended Aug. 11, 1995, two days after the Grateful Dead singer died.

      The Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff, in which a herd of hikers start on the trail, will be held April 26-28 in Lake Morena County State Park, Calif. Thru-hikers usually arrive in Ashland from mid-July through mid-August. Read other PCT stories linked to this story at www.dailytidings.com.
  • Like hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, author Cheryl Strayed's life moves in switchbacks.
    Months before she first visited Ashland in the summer of 1995, she was an overburdened, unprepared young waitress who planned to mourn the loss of her mother by slogging the narrow PCT alone, from the simmering Mojave Desert in California to the more merciful "green tunnel" of Oregon.
    Since those strained and lonely days, Strayed has written a best-selling memoir about her journey, "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," in which she devotes a chapter to Ashland.
    More than 225,000 hardbound copies of the book were printed within three months of its release last March. Actress Reese Witherspoon is making a movie based on the book with a screenplay written by Nick Hornby, one of Strayed's favorite writers. And Oprah calls to invite Strayed to her house.
    Perhaps more telling of Strayed's success is that people want to follow in her footsteps: on the arduous trail and to the Ashland places she lovingly describes.
    Surprisingly, despite the passing decades and life-changing rewards, Strayed still has vivid memories of Ashland, the trail town she first picked as the ending point to escaping an unraveling life.
    "Ashland was my mecca," Strayed says Wednesday from her home in Portland, the day after the paperback version of "Wild" was released. "I had my favorite jeans and a new black lace bra shipped to me there so I didn't have to wear the same trail clothes. That says a lot about Ashland."
    She remembers the layout of the Ashland Hostel and that her bed was tucked inside a "secret room" — a former closet in the 1910 house — accessed through the women's dorm room with stacks of bunk beds.
    She wonders if the Ashland Food Co-op is still the community gathering place for the "hippy/anarchist/punk rock/funked-out artist continuum." And if the building across the street — the then Buffalo Music Hall inside the Historic Ashland Armory — still has events, like the Jerry Garcia CD Retrospective she attended Aug. 11, 1995, two days after the Grateful Dead singer died.
    It was there, in the Armory's Great Hall, near a low wall that still outlines the bar area, that she met the man she calls "Jonathan" in the book. She used a pseudonym since she couldn't track him down to ask his permission to use his real name.
    In "Wild," she writes about the romantic, 22-hour date she had with the curly haired man who lived in a "luxury," heated tent on an organic farm outside of Jacksonville.
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