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

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

4.4 9
by Lynn Schooler
     
 

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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…  See more details below

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 regions 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 Rabans Passage to Juneau or Jon Krakauers 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

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
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.
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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:
9781608192892
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
05/18/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
299,671
File size:
1 MB

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.
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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