(You can ignore the singular/plural disagreement, perceived or otherwise, in the title. It’s a reference to a song. I will also give kudos to anyone who knows what song it is.)
A friend of mine asked if I had heard about the book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. I had heard about it, though I haven’t read it yet— last time I tried to check it out of the library, it was on reserve for a solid year, so I gave up.
Zachary learned a couple weeks ago one of the reasons the book is floating around in the general consciousness: not only has it been featured on Oprah, but a movie based on the book, starring Reese Witherspoon, is coming out later this year.
When we learned this, Zach looked at me and said, “Man, I’m glad we’re hiking the trail this year instead of next.”
I could only nod and agree. Images flashed through my head or hordes of backpacker wannabes flooding the trail in hopes of “finding themselves.” I could imagine people saying, “Oh, you hiked the trail because of that movie, right?” Suddenly, hiking the PCT will be something people have heard about, something fashionable or trendy.
In short, I’m afraid that the movie will make the trail— gasp!— popular.
I roll my eyes at people who say they loved Ben Folds or pomegranates or Hunger Games until it became cool. And yet, I think everyone has that little exclusive thing that they want to stay exclusive. The PCT is that for me.
A lot of the PCT’s impending popularity will depend on whether or not the movie is well-done, but one way or the other, I’m reminding myself that popularity can be good. Maybe more people will support the Pacific Crest Trail Association, and help them keep the trail wild for generations to come. Maybe more people will try out backpacking. Maybe we can finish blazing the Continental Divide Trail and make the American Discovery Trail something feasible for more long-distance hikers.
In the meantime, I will be squelching my inner hipster and remembering that, despite how many people like something, it can still be cool.