A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart
By Lynn Schooler
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596916739, 272pp.)
Publication Date: May 11, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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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.
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.
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.
Winner of the 2010 Banff Mountain Festival Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature
“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
“Lynn Schooler does what we all, at times, long to do… The prose is simple and clear; there is very little daylight between Schooler and the world he walks through.”—Los Angeles Times
“[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.”—Oregonian
“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.”—National Geographic Traveler
“[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.”—New York Journal of Books
“In Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart, Schooler tells the story of his travels and his discoveries about the home he left behind. Filled with stunning observations of nature and adventures including swollen rivers and aggressive grizzly bears, Walking Home is a story about finding wholeness — and a sense of humanity — in the wild.”—Alaska Magazine
“The author's mix of personal thoughts with natural and human history strikes an exemplary balance of frank observations and haunting evocations.” – Anchorage Daily News
“Schooler takes readers along on his solo journey into the wilds…During his journey, Schooler comes to understand that within wilderness one finds not only complete solidarity and peace of mind, but also the lines that link the human to the natural world.” – E-The Environmental Magazine
“All the makings of a vivid story. Many accounts were so biologically accurate, it seemed I was breathing my way through the bush, too. Personal experiences, fueled by his descriptive prose, seem to leap off the page and come to life. Schooler details accurate and artful natural history observations, which demonstrate his rich knowledge of ecology, wildlife biology and outdoor survival…Schooler weaves historical and biological facts into his chapters that lead readers into a deeper understanding of the harsh, stark wild of the Alaskan wilderness…you will love this book. Schooler has written a heartfelt, accurate and beautifully penned account of a personal journey into the wilds of Alaska.”–Juneau Empire