From surf to mountain peaks, Squaw Valley Institute events sure to inspire |

From surf to mountain peaks, Squaw Valley Institute events sure to inspire

Special to the Sun

OLYMPIC VALLEY – A professional surfer who achieves her dreams in despite of a shark attack that resulted in the loss of an arm, and a New York Times No. 1 bestselling author chronicles the impetus and discoveries on a 1,100-mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. These are the topics of upcoming Squaw Valley Institute events.

The celebrities behind the stories include Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton, on Dec. 22 at Olympic Village Lodge in Squaw Valley, and author of “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed, on Jan. 13 at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn. Both lectures include a book or DVD signing; tickets are available now at

Bethany Hamilton has become a source of inspiration to millions through her story of faith and determination. Born into a family of surfers on Feb. 8, 1990, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany began surfing at a young age. Bethany entered her first surf competition at age 8, the Rell Sun Menehune event on Oahu, where she won both the short and long board divisions. At 13, on Oct. 31, 2003, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm. After losing more than 60 percent of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Bethany was on her way to recovery.-

Just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal to become a professional surfer. In January of 2004, Bethany made her return to surf competition; placing 5th in the Open Women’s division of that contest. Just more than a year after the attack she took first place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships – winning her first National Title. Her story was turned into the movie, “Soul Surfer.”

In January, best-selling author Cheryl Strayed will speak about her book, “Wild,” an award-winning memoir of her 1,100-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe – and built her back up again. At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything when her mother died young of cancer. In the aftermath of this loss, her family scattered, her marriage was soon destroyed, and slowly her life unraveled. Four years after her mother’s death, with nothing more to lose, Strayed made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State – and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker. Indeed, she’d never gone backpacking before her first night on the trail. Her trek was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. Strayed faced down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and intense loneliness of the trail.

In addition to this bestseller, Strayed is the author of “Tiny Beautiful Things” and the novel, “Torch.” “Wild” was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. It has been optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Pacific Standard. IndieBound selected “Wild” as their No. 1 Indie Next pick for April, Barnes and Noble named it a “Discover Great New Writers” pick on their Summer 2012 list, and Amazon named it a “Best of March” pick.

For more information and tickets visit–

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