10,000 miles on foot
8 pairs of hiking boots
3,000 cups of tea
1,000 days and nights
"The only way to survive three years of walking was to embrace the moment of now.”—from Wild by Nature
Not since Cheryl Strayed gifted us with her adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail in her memoir, Wild, has there been such a powerful epic adventure by a woman alone. In Wild by Nature, National Geographic Explorer Sarah Marquis takes you on the trail of her ten-thousand-mile solo hike across the remote Gobi desert from Siberia to Thailand, at which point she was transported by boat to complete the hike at her favorite tree in Australia.
Against nearly insurmountable odds and relying on hunting and her own wits, Sarah Marquis survived the Mafia, drug dealers, thieves on horseback who harassed her tent every night for weeks, temperatures from subzero to scorching, life-threatening wildlife, a dengue fever delirium in the Laos jungle, tropic ringworm in northern Thailand, dehydration, and a life-threatening abscess.
This is an incredible story of adventure, human ingenuity, persistence, and resilience that shows firsthand what it is to adventure as a woman in the most dangerous of circumstance, what it is to be truly alone in the wild, and why someone would challenge themselves with an expedition others would call crazy. For Marquis, her story is about freedom, being alive and wild by nature.
Marquis chronicles the three years she spent traveling on foot through some of the harshest climates in the world, but what could have been an engaging story is ruined by poor writing. Trekking from Mongolia's Gobi Desert to Siberia and through Thailand to Australia's outback, Marquis's unparalleled adventure earned her recognition as a National Geographic Explorer of the Year. Her skills and raw talent are unquestionable, but her actual experience doesn't translate on the page. The jumpy, halting narrative fails to explain her mission; her long diatribes are preachy and sometimes border on culturally insensitive. The chapters are chronologically ordered but offer no consistent narrative thread to ground the reader. Certain incidents and places are given more of a focus than others; for example, a year in Mongolia is discussed over 100 pages, but the last year of the journey is condensed into 50. There are a few exciting moments when Marquis's incredible resourcefulness in the wild shines through, such as when she lists her techniques for gathering water in wilderness or recounts a chance encounter with wild buffalo in the middle of the night. Readers will be left wishing that they could enjoy a hike with Marquis, rather than be stuck reading her book.