Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart

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In the spring of 2007, hard on the heels of the worst winter in the history of Juneau, Alaska, Lynn Schooler finds himself facing the far side of middle age and exhausted by laboring to handcraft a home as his marriage slips away. Seeking solace and escape in nature, he sets out on a solo journey into the Alaskan wilderness, traveling first by small boat across the formidable Gulf of Alaska, then on foot along one of the wildest coastlines in North America.
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Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart

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Overview

In the spring of 2007, hard on the heels of the worst winter in the history of Juneau, Alaska, Lynn Schooler finds himself facing the far side of middle age and exhausted by laboring to handcraft a home as his marriage slips away. Seeking solace and escape in nature, he sets out on a solo journey into the Alaskan wilderness, traveling first by small boat across the formidable Gulf of Alaska, then on foot along one of the wildest coastlines in North America.
Walking Home is filled with stunning observations of the natural world, and rife with nail-biting adventure as Schooler fords swollen rivers and eludes aggressive grizzlies. But more important, it is a story about finding wholeness--and a sense of humanity--in the wild. His is a solitary journey, but Schooler is never alone; human stories people the landscape--tales of trappers, explorers, marooned sailors, and hermits, as well as the mythology of the region's Tlingit Indians. Alone in the middle of several thousand square miles of wilderness, Schooler conjures the souls of travelers past to learn how the trials of life may be better borne with the help and community of others.
Walking Home recalls Jonathan Raban's Passage to Juneau or Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, but with a more successful outcome. With elegance and soul, Schooler creates a conversation between the human and the natural, the past and present, to investigate what it means to be a part of the flow of human history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Having lived in Alaska for 40 years, working as a commercial fisherman, shipwright, wilderness guide and wildlife photographer, Juneau resident Schooler (The Blue Bear) set out in 2007 on a solo trip through his adopted state, in part to get away from his failing marriage. Jettisoning the pontification and redundancy that can weigh down man-against-nature stories, Schooler's account boils over with adventure and exploration: there are rivers to cross, glaciers to maneuver, a trek through "boulder hell," eerie mountainscapes, and a panoply of spooky histories to recount. An escape of sorts, Schooler's journey proves a harrowing diversion, related with nail-biting immediacy: "the current heaving against my legs was getting stronger with every step... What at first might seem manageable becomes suddenly and startlingly on the verge of taking control, like the slow, easy coils of an anaconda becoming a muscular squeeze." A bear encounter is so frightening as to be exhausting, culminating in his decision to sleep outside with an escape route already carved out: "There was no way I was going to spend the night in the tent... wrapped in a sleeping bag like a burrito." Armchair adventurers will be captivated.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

National Geographic Traveler

Graced with precise, learned, evocative observations and reflections…Schooler's work guides us into the heart of one of the wildest regions in North America--and into a renewed appreciation of man's intersection with the natural world.
New York Journal of Books

[Schooler's] descriptions are so vivid that they leave the reader hungering to "see" more...The book is beautifully written, deep yet clear, and highly informative. Whether boiling water for tea, or sharing a yarn from Tlingit culture, Schooler weaves the ordinary tasks of everyday life into the fabric of history and folklore.
Oregonian

[Schooler's] memoir of the trip launches with a pulse-elevating encounter with a starving bear that stalks him to the edge of a rushing, flood-swollen river. (Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild" comes to mind when Schooler stands on the bank of the wild river, searching desperately for a way across to eventual safety and home.) Schooler's book is the story of a man adrift in late middle age looking for mooring points. In the midst of remote areas only a small percentage of the planet will ever see, he finds startling beauty in the flora, fauna and savage geography. He also comes within a bear's huffing breath of death and feels the fragileness of life unarmed and alone. His reflections on Alaska's past, the raw power of the wilderness around him and thoughts of his wife and friends are all part of his step-by-step journey into himself and the meaning of home.
Kirkus Reviews
An outdoorsman ventures alone into remote territory. Schooler (The Last Shot: The Incredible Story of the C.S.S. Shenandoah and the True Conclusion of the American Civil War, 2005, etc.) narrates his journey along the western side of Mount Fairweather in Alaska, a trek that completed, in combination with earlier adventures, his circumnavigation of the mountain. An accomplished wilderness guide, the author builds a dramatic mood and some suspense into his tale with steady pacing and vivid scene-setting. He uses history and natural history to describe the enormously challenging elements that he faced-ice-filled bays to be entered from seaward, rivers to be forded, formidable, rocky terrain to be crossed, bears to be carefully and respectfully avoided. His descriptions of the terrain are peopled with indigenous tribes and earlier explorers and settlers, and even a 500-year-old body found in the ice. The tale is further enriched by pointed observations about the natural world, such as how various species of birds made it their home and what they must do to survive such extreme conditions. These notes are interesting but also serve to dramatize the tests that Schooler faced along his way, including an encounter with a grizzly that stalks him part of the way. Without sentimentality or self-pity, he also writes about personal losses and struggles that occurred before his journey and how they motivated him to set off into the wilderness in lieu of working on other pressing projects, including a partially finished house he was building for himself and his increasingly distant wife. A rich account of a man's solo adventure into the wilderness, and what he learned about that place and himself.Author appearances in the Pacific Northwest
From the Publisher
“A rich account of a man’s solo adventure into the wilderness, and what he learned about that place and himself.”—Kirkus

“Schooler reclaims the state’s true wilderness aesthetic in his chronicle of a solo trip along the southeast coastal region. He infuses his personal story with astute observations about the area’s history…Schooler shares his hiking experiences in a style reminiscent of Richard Nelson and Barry Lopez. It is in the artful blend of the intimate and the historical that Schooler’s prose truly sings, and his resistance to hyperbole should appeal to fans of natural history. Schooler is the real deal and he proves it on every gorgeous page.”—Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596916739
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Schooler is the critically acclaimed author of The Blue Bear and The Last Shot. He has lived in Alaska for almost forty years, working as a commercial fisherman, shipwright, wilderness guide, and an award-winning wildlife photographer.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly Recommended - a must read for those interested in nature and history

    This book sat with me for weeks after I read it. I literally felt guilty when reading other novels because my mind was still planted deep within Lynn Schooler's latest book. His writing and his experiences touched me and took me back to a land that has always been close to my heart. His knowledge of Alaska, it's gifts and dangers along with the wildlife was incredible. His ability to tie his adventure in with the personal issues he was dealing with is unlike anything I've ever read. I rarely read books twice, but this one will be reread. I also recommend Blue Bear which he wrote prior to this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2015

    A history lesson

    Read first 70 pages and found myself feeling let down lynn is a great writer but I thought I purchased a book on his own personal adventuesNOT explorers from hundreds of years ago
    If I wanted a history lesson I would have purchased a book specific to that
    Stoped reading book at this juncture

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2014

    Test

    &hearts &star &infinity &#3456 &#123456789

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2014

    Test

    &#9825 &#9827 &#9839 &#9848 &#9828 &#9857 &#9869 &#9879 &#9887 &#9890

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  • Posted September 11, 2014

    Great Adventure

    This book shows the struggles both physical and mental that the author went through in his journey. He took a great chance to do it alone at his age, in the wilds of Alaska. He risked being injured with no one to come to his aid. A good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Walking Home

    What an incredible mental and emotional journey you have taken your readers (including me) on. You have taken this journey physically while I for one have had the privilege of seeing it all through your writings.
    In the world of art, Thomas Kincaid has been called the “Painter of Light” and justly so. Now you have opened up a new inner perspective on my part to be ~~~ Lynn Schooler, “Master of Literary Visual Art.”
    Thank you so much for Sharing
    Vern Quimby

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Want to be alone in the wilderness? Read this and live it.

    You step into Lynn Schooler's boots when you read this book. You don't get told about it, you live it, see it like he sees it, feel it like he feels it. A first class wilderness experience with some natural history thrown in to feed your curiosity and remind you that the wild parts of our state and country are not for the timid.
    Read it once for the story; then read it again for the feeling all over again. Home is where Lynn's heart is and your's will be too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2010

    Good Reading for Winter Night

    Interesting book but the ending comes quickly. Enjoyed reading about the history of the area.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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