Rawlins writes for Sierra magazine and is also the author of a book of poetry, A Ceremony on Bare Ground (Utah State Univ. Pr., 1985. o.p.). He also works for the Forest Service and, among other tasks, periodically hikes or skis into remote areas of the Wind River wilderness to collect samples of snow and water in order to check for evidence of acid rain. He responds to the mountains as a poet first, then as a scientist. This, then, is a poet/hydrologist's thoughtful reaction to wilderness, environmental in the sense of being awed by place, fauna, and flora but not by nature as a mystical experience. Whether as guide, storyteller, geologist, historian, or keen observer of the seasons, he shows in his mundane activities the value of the wilderness. Readers will be persuaded by his tale and delighted by his company. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Roland Person, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Rawlins is a poet who prefers solitude and contemplation of the sky to the "fabric of ideas," a writer who wants to know and talk about things other than himself. He finds occupation, inspiration, and adventure high in the cold, wind-blasted mountains of Wyoming, where he retrieves samples of snow, rain, and lake water for scientists monitoring air pollution. His accounts of his low-tech, high-risk expeditions are vivid, lyrical, and evocative. He and his ever-hungry, music-addicted partner, John, travel as far as they can on snowmobiles, then proceed farther than seems safe or sane up into the frozen Wind River Range on skis, miraculously locating the far-flung collection sites. Rawlins, a furnace of a man, loves the danger and thrill of cross-country skiing, of camping in subzero temperatures, of soaring downhill in the icy dark, burdened with packs full of snow. He rhapsodizes about the stratigraphy of the snowpack, the history of the Shoshoni who hunted and slept among these pristine peaks and valleys, the perils of cold, and the vast differences between the atmospheres of city and wilderness. An intriguing mix of essay, anecdote, and nature writing, of cinematic description and philosophical reflection.