Recklessness and Salvation on the Pacific Crest Trail

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“On my second night of college, I was raped. Shattered and alone, I fled to the Mexican border and headed north through 2,650 miles of desert and mountains to Canada, walking the height of American in search of home. This is the story of how my recklessness became my salvation.”

Aspen Matis’s memoir, Girl In The Woods, tells the first hand story of a young woman who was excited to start college in a new city, far away from home, till her nightmare happened. Matis was raped in her dorm room on her second night of college. To make it worse, her college counselors, university officials, and even her own family did not support her at all.  The college counselors did not believe her, and her mother forbid her from telling anyone else in her family.

Feeling alone and scared, Matis made a decision that shocked everyone. She left college, completely, to hike all 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. Hiking the trail is not an easy feat by any means – but Matis told about her wonderful, horrible, and downright terrifying adventures along the way.

Matis’s account of her adventure is truly inspiring. Her memoir is attention-grabbing and I could not put it down. Every page tells about an experience that transformed her as a person, whether it be from finding a boyfriend, nearly dying from dehydration, being abandoned, being labeled ‘the trail sl*t’, becoming ill, and more. I found myself rooting for Matis in my mind – she had to finish the trail, even through what seemed like impossible circumstances.

Her adventure almost wasn’t finished because of several unexpected hardships along the way. Aspen did not think it would be easy, but she also didn’t expect it to be that hard. Her experiences helped her grow past her pain, her frustration, and her fears. This was the first time ever than Aspen was alone and had to fend for herself, and failure would mean completely giving up or putting herself in danger, it was not an option.

Hiking the trail gave her the time to realize everything she needed to face, and how to overcome and grow when it felt like the world was against her. Aspen had already faced more in her 19-year life than some people ever do, and now she was pushing the limits, challenging nature in a 5-month fight for survival against nature.

Aspen’s adventure inspired me to want to do something life-changing like she did. Her actions, though extreme, are a classic example of coming of age and finding yourself in the messed up world that we live in. Her story is remarkable, and I would recommend this book to anyone. This story was impossible to put down from the minute I picked it up, I wanted to learn everything I could about her experience and I had to know the ending. I was full of fear, shock, happiness, and I even literally cried reading her memoir.

You can learn more about Aspen Matis and her story here.

Her memoir, Girl in the Woods, is available for purchase from the publisher here.