Walking Home: A Journey in the Alaskan Wilderness
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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 labouring 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, travelling 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 travellers past to learn how the trials of life may be better borne with the help and community of others.
In Walking Home Schooler creates a conversation between the human and the natural, the past and present, and investigates, with elegance and soul, what it means to be a part of the flow of human history.
A Note on the Author By the Same Author Imprint PROLOGUE In May of 2007, I stood on a remote Alaskan beach, on the bank of a flooding river, desperate to find a way across. The stream of muddy, hissing water cut through a rock-studded beach and hurled itself headlong into a line of breaking waves. Every few seconds another swell rolled in from the Gulf of Alaska, rose into a steeple against the outflow of current, then collapsed in an avalanche of foam. The gulf is seldom still, and a stiff
and pass them on to her two grown daughters from a previous marriage, who would in turn pass seeds to their own children someday. Shortly after the walls were up and the roof was on, however, the marriage started to slide. Immediately after the wedding my wife had begun a new career in a field for which she had great talent, and as word of her abilities spread, she landed first one position, then another and another; by the time the windows were installed, she had not been to the building site
waterproofing oil in a drawer and started applying it to the leather, pushing back a feeling as I did so that there was always something waiting to rush out of the darkness—an avalanche, a tsunami, a gunshot, a cancer—by concentrating on rubbing the pungent fluid in with a circular motion. Wet feet was something I could prevent. Chapter 14 The Loaded Backpack went over the side into the gray inflatable skiff with a thump. Rain gear, extra clothing, a stove, food, a camera, a lightweight fishing
taken to a nearby tree and “elevated.” It is not clear whether the Excelsior, after discovering the marooned prospectors, brought them back to Juneau or continued with its search for the missing Dora B. and arranged for another vessel to evacuate them, but in any case the records indicate that immediately after being rescued, Hannah contacted the authorities and turned over the transcript of the trial. After reviewing her notes, a federal judge presiding over the territory ruled Severts’s death
Since the ancestors of the Tlingit* Indians wandered across the Bering Land Bridge and spread into Southeast Alaska by hopscotching across ice fields and climbing down glaciers into ice-free pockets along the gulf, the region I was in has been lightly trod. A handful of European explorers blew through in the late 1700s, followed by a brief but furious swarm of fur hunters in the 1800s, bent on extirpating the gulf’s sea otters; a trickle of prospectors nibbled at the sand with picks and shovels