Girl in the Woods is Aspen Matis's exhilarating true-life adventure of hiking from Mexico to Canada—a coming of age story, a survival story, and a triumphant story of overcoming emotional devastation. On her second night of college, Aspen was raped by a fellow student. Overprotected by her parents who discouraged her from telling of the attack, Aspen was confused and ashamed. Dealing with a problem that has sadly become all too common on college campuses around the country, she stumbled through her first semester—a challenging time made even harder by the coldness of her college's "conflict mediation" process. Her desperation growing, she made a bold decision: She would seek healing in the freedom of the wild, on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail leading from Mexico to Canada.
In this inspiring memoir, Aspen chronicles her journey, a five-month trek that was ambitious, dangerous, and transformative. A nineteen-year-old girl alone and lost, she conquered desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears, and fellow desert pilgrims. Exhausted after each thirty-mile day, at times on the verge of starvation, Aspen was forced to confront her numbness, coming to terms with the sexual assault and her parents' disappointing reaction. On the trail and on her own, she found that survival is predicated on persistent self-reliance. She found her strength. After a thousand miles of solitude, she found a man who helped her learn to love and trust again—and heal.
Told with elegance and suspense, Girl in the Woods is a beautifully rendered story of eroding emotional and physical boundaries to reveal the truths that lie beyond the edges of the map.
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About the Author
Aspen Matis is a writer living in Greenwich Village, where she's finishing her degree at The New School and working on a novel.
Table of Contents
Part I Terrible Seeds
Chapter 1 The Garden City 7
Chapter 2 Terrible Seeds 16
Chapter 3 Blood on the Tracks 31
Chapter 4 The Things I Carried 43
Chapter 5 The Dangers of the Desert 60
Chapter 6 Unbound Ghosts 69
Chapter 7 Mirages 91
Chapter 8 Hollow Words 105
Chapter 9 Wild Dreams 122
Chapter 10 Trail Magic 141
Part II The Range of Light
Chapter 11 Love in the Woods 159
Chapter 12 Distance to Paradise 173
Chapter 13 No Harm Will Befall You 187
Chapter 14 The Range of Light 207
Part III The Way Through
Chapter 15 A Thousand Miles of Solitude 227
Chapter 16 The Director of My Life 261
Chapter 17 Inside Fire 278
Chapter 18 Love Notes Under Rocks 302
Chapter 19 A Hiker's Guide to Healing 322
Chapter 20 A Girl in the Woods 349
International Resources 364
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author has a nice writing style. However, I found the person she portrayed herself to be very difficult to like or take seriously. She wanted sympathy and others to be outraged over her rape, which is valid, but some of her actions were so contradictory that it tainted the overall message. She talks about the rape and as a reader you do want her to be comforted. Next chapter she is flaunting her body by skinnydipping with strange men and becoming offended when someone calls her out on it. Also,sending innuendo texts to a fellow hiker she is attracted to and answering the motel room in nothing but a towel when he arrives seemed an odd choice for a rape survivor. I expected someone as traumatized as she wants us to believe she is to have been a little more mature when it came to the situations she placed herself in along the trail.