A ‘Wild’ Hike Across the Country? (slider)

In the summer of 1995, 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed hiked across much of California and Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Though she did not walk the entire length of the PCT, she did manage to hike about 1000 miles of the trail, amounting to less than half of the total mileage of the PCT from Mexico to Canada.  Strayed admits to setting off on her journey quite unprepared, and describes in detail her haphazard and reckless approach to the journey on what was her very first backpacking trip of any kind.

Why is her story so compelling?  Why have so many flocked to buy her book, and now see the movie starring Reese Witherspoon?  Was Cheryl Strayed a brave and strong adventurer, or a pathetic and irresponsible wanderer?  A little perspective on the story might help to inform the current sensation.