The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska

Overview


“I live in the sunlight of friends and the shadows of glaciers.”

So begins The Only Kayak, Kim Heacox’s coming-of-middle-age memoir written in the tradition of Edward Abbey, John McPhee, and Henry David Thoreau, with a voice at times tender, irate, funny, and deeply humane. In it, he asks, what does it mean to fall in love with a place that cannot stay the same? When do you hold on? When do you let go?
Born in Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains and raised in Spokane, Washington, ...

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Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska

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Overview


“I live in the sunlight of friends and the shadows of glaciers.”

So begins The Only Kayak, Kim Heacox’s coming-of-middle-age memoir written in the tradition of Edward Abbey, John McPhee, and Henry David Thoreau, with a voice at times tender, irate, funny, and deeply humane. In it, he asks, what does it mean to fall in love with a place that cannot stay the same? When do you hold on? When do you let go?
Born in Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains and raised in Spokane, Washington, Heacox moves to Alaska as a young park ranger and discovers a land and sea newly reborn from beneath a retreating glacier. “People are reborn here too,” he writes. “This place is that powerful. In Glacier Bay you don’t inherit, you create. You practice resurrection because the land and sea show you that anything is possible. Moose swim across fiords. Bears traverse glaciers. Flowers emerge from granite boulders. Inlets fill with glacial silt. Shorelines shift and nautical charts become obsolete as the land—the actual crust of the Earth—rebounds after the immense weight of glacial ice (of just a few hundred years ago) has been lifted.”
In this tale of friendship, risk, and hope, we find a story of coming home and learning to live gracefully among the deep blue glaciers of Alaska, a place Kim calls “the Africa of America.” His words offer us a chance to look into our own selves and ask how we might live with greater deliberation, purpose, and thankfulness for the wild places we still have.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[A] tender chronicle of a miracle in process, with glints of its rarity thrown by the handful from these pages."--Kirkus Reviews

"Writer and photographer Heacox delivers a genuine, deeply moving account of the past twenty-five years he has spent living in Glacier Bay, Alaska."--Publishers Weekly

"'Make access easy, and a place dies,' is his motto, and therein lies the paradox that Heacox tries to resolve in this book. . . . As he wrestles with such conundrums, Heacox creates a nicely balanced environmental portrait of Alaska's ice-cut coast."--Booklist

"In prose that is both lyrical and powerful, he gives the reader a complete picture of the beauty of that wilderness and what will be lost in its deterioration."--Trade Journal.In praise of An

"Heacox is a poet, a scholar, a naturalist and a wild man who, in this great book, weaves together the story of the land and the people. The Only Kayak helps us reconnect what the Lakota call the the sacred hoop of life. I want to give this book to a dozen friends and,dear reader, I want to share it with you. Bravo, Kim Heacox."--Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other

"Few have wandered more deeply and thoughtfully through the wilds of Alaska than Kim Heacox. Those who know him best through his extraordinary photographs now have the chance to accompany him in words through some of the wildest and most beautiful country anywhere on earth. The Only Kayak is a delight."--William Cronon, Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The naturalist expert for National Geographic Expeditions is a talented writer, a good storyteller, and passionate about his state; and he takes [us] through his journey of falling in love, aging and learning when to let go."--Everett Herald (Washington)

"With this powerful book, Kim Heacox enters the first rank of writers on the wild, the human, and the mix between the two. It's set in one of America's most spectacular landscapes, but it's also set in one of its kindest, most open hearts. A real triumph." --Bill McKibben, author The End of Nature, and Wandering Home: A Long Walk Through America's Most Hopeful Region

ri0"Perhaps more than ever before, we need passionate, eloquent voices speaking out for the American land. . . . Kim Heacox's writing evokes the fundamental paradox of our times: the vast, beauty of Alaska shining brilliantly against the dark, encroaching peril of industrial America. Anyone who cares about our remaining wild places, and about the conscience of those who stand in defense of our natural heritage, should read this extraordinary book.--Richard Nelson, author of The Island Within and Make Prayers to the Raven

"The Only Kayak is an important and beautiful book about what it means to fall in love with a place--not just any place, but the wild, dangerous, breath-catching, gorgeous Glacier Bay. And not just any love, but a wistful, sometimes desperate yearning to protect a wilderness even as it melts away. Kim Heacox is what this world needs--a defender of the land as fierce and funny as Abbey or Thoreau."--Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Riverwalking and The Pine Island Paradox

"Heacox's book is both a coming-of-(middle)age memoir and a love story, with Alaska serving as both the journey's end and the beloved. While Heacox writes passionately about his home in Glacier Bay, he also acknowledges the inevitability of change there. In prose that is both lyrical and powerful, he gives the reader a complete picture of the beauty of that wilderness and what will be lost in its deterioration."--Book News

" . . . this book is about learning to walk with purpose. It's about a lot of things, actually--love, community, heartbreak, hope for people and place. It's about how living an unexamined life is far riskier than sleeping on a beach with bears."--Anchorage Daily News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592288946
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2006
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 288,145
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Kim Heacox is the award-winning author of several nonfiction books and the novel Caribou Crossing. His feature articles have appeared in Audubon, Travel & Leisure, Wilderness, Islands, Orion, and National Geographic Traveler. His editorials, written for the Los Angeles Times, have appeared in many major newspapers across the United States. When not playing the guitar, doing simple carpentry, or writing another novel, he's sea kayaking with Melanie, his wife of nearly twenty years, or watching a winter wren on the woodpile. Learn more at www.kimheacox.com.
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