This story begins with the life story of Cheryl Strayed, who has a very difficult period in her life, and goes on to examine the various reasons which make her to go on a three-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl Strayed initially has everything: mother, brother Leif, stepfather Eddie and beloved husband Paul. However, one day her mother is diagnosed with lung cancer and this news badly influences on Cheryl and Leif’s mind. Despite the fact that her mother leads a healthy lifestyle, she has cancer of the fourth degree and it is too late to treat her, and this disease changes everything.
The next reason, which makes Cheryl to begin her trip, is a divorce with her husband Paul. It seems that Cheryl and Paul are a good and happy family. However, for an unknown reason she begins to be unfaithful to her husband, having sex with other men. It is possible that her mother's death affects her so badly, but eventually Cheryl and Paul get divorced.
Before traveling, Cheryl stays in a motel in Mojave to collect everything necessary for her hike. There are many necessary and unnecessary things in her backpack, including books, which Cheryl likes to read. Recognizing the weight of her backpack, she begins to doubt about her hike, but it is important for her to understand herself and Cheryl decides to do it. Collecting all her things, she goes to the highway to catch the car. When two men drive her to the stand with the inscription “The Pacific Crest Trail”, Cheryl writes her name and the date of the beginning of her hike. The backpack is so heavy that she regrets hundred times, when she agreed to hike. Heat and bright sun torment her, but her terrible past, drugs and interrupted pregnancy torment her more. Later she stops to camp and have a rest.
After spending a couple of days alone on her way tired Cheryl cannot feel her feet and her calluses make the journey even heavier. The girl feels that she becomes stronger. When all her food and water supplies are over, she meets a man named Frank, he takes her home, where Cheryl meets his wife Annette, can take a shower and eat tasty food.\ When she continues her journey, Cheryl meets many other tourists. Realizing that she does not have the strength, she still goes on and remembers the day, when she is getting divorced from her husband. It is very emotional and difficult moment for her, because she loves Paul and cannot forget him.
Having reached Kennedy Meadows, Cheryl receives a parcel from her friend Lisa. There are fresh clothes, books and a letter from Joe, who is the father of her unborn child. She is very upset, because the letter is not from Paul. Later she meets a tourist named Albert, who helps her to throw away all the unnecessary things and makes her backpack easier.
The final point of Cheryl’s hike will be The Bridge of Gods, where the girl has to walk, but there is one problem. She goes out on a path with a snow cover in California and it seems that she is lost. However, she is still able to find the right way and Cheryl meets Christine at Packer Lake Lodge, who tells Cheryl about her life. At the same time, Sheryl remembers about her husband Paul and about two tattoos, which they make in honor of parting. The next day Cheryl meets the first female tourists at Belden Town and she is very pleased that she communicates with them.
When Cheryl says goodbye to the female tourists Stacy and Trina, she goes out on the highway, where the car stops with a strange man. He is a reporter, who is named Jimmy Carter, and he collects information about hobos. He thinks that Cheryl is a hobo and therefore Jimmy decides to interview. The girl claims that she is a tourist, but the reporter makes Cheryl’s photo, gives her food and leaves her alone.
After a few miles, Cheryl notices the water tank and so she immediately drinks her all water from the bottle to draw fresh water. However, when she comes up with the tank, she finds out that it is empty. When she finds a puddle with dirty water, Cheryl takes out a water purifier and adds several tablets to disinfect the water. It saves her life. Then, after a few days, Cheryl reaches a volcano called Mount Mazama and here she remembers that today is her mother’s birthday. She is very angry with her, because her mother dies very early. When after death her mom's body is cremated, Cheryl eats a part of the ashes and her mother always will be with her nearby.
Through all the obstacles and dangers, Cheryl reaches The Bridge of Gods, which connects Oregon and Washington. She is very happy and feels relieved. This trip gives her a new life and she realizes that the world is not so bad. She just needs to live and enjoy it.