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Aspen Matis

After being raped on her second night at college, Aspen Matis dropped out. Depressed and shocked that her school didn’t believe and protect her, she sought solace in a remote wilderness; she found the Pacific Crest Trail and hiked the footpath’s entire length, over 2,000 miles from Mexico to Canada.

Trekking into the desert, Aspen left her sheltered suburban life behind, searching for a way to heal. A 19-year-old girl alone, isolated, and lost, she stepped into shimmering frost, silent glades, climbed desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears and fellow desert pilgrims. Exhausted after each 30-mile-day’s walk, at times on the verge of starvation, she faced perils that forced her to confront her fears and passivity—and to change. She walked towards new strength, a better perspective on her past, and a new life.

Inspired by the beauty and turmoil enveloping her on the trail, the author wrote poems, personal accounts, and dispatches from her tent. After moving to New York City, she published a popular account of her experiences in The New York Times’ Modern Love column to outstanding praise, which led to this memoir.

Aspen Matis now lives in Greenwich Village, where she’s finishing her degree at The New School and working on a novel.