Grizzly Maze, By Nick Jans. This is the story of Timothy Treadwell’s fatal obsession with Alaskan bears. In 2003 Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were eaten by the grizzly bears they believed they had befriended.
Treadwell spent years doing everything he was told not to do when it came to the coastal brown bears of Alaska. He believed that they were misunderstood creatures and was seeking to overturn the perception of them as dangerously aggressive animals. A Californian, he spent his summers at Katmai National Park living with the bears. His methods are certainly questionable (they didn’t work, he was eaten) as was his purpose. When not in coastal Alaska, he was back in California raising money for his “research.”
Untrained, and with little experience in the Alaskan bush, Treadwell seems a meal waiting to happen.
Never Cry Wolf, By Farley Mowat. This story by Canadian author Farley Mowat is based on two summers he spent in the subarctic of northern Manitoba as a biologist studying wolves and caribou. With the belief that the wolf population was killing off the caribou herds, the government of Canada sent Mowat north to learn more about the wolf population and to find ways to stop, what they then felt was the wonton slaughter of the herds by wolves.
Mowat lived mostly alone on the tundra studying the wolves and over the course of his study developed a deep affection for the much maligned wolves. His work determined that the wolves in fact were not a threat to the caribou or to man. His story is not only entertaining, but offers insight into the lives of wolves and the misconceptions of man regarding these animals.
Mawson’s Will, By Lennard Bickel. The incredible hardships encountered in 1911 by Australian Dr. Douglas Mawson are hard to imagine from the comfort of a readers chair. His will to survive is monumental and inspiring. When things go wrong on an Antarctica expedition, to chart fifteen hundred miles of Antarctic coastline and claim it for the British crown, Mawson is left to his own resources hundreds of miles from help. He encounters daunting mountains, crevasse-filled glaciers and 60 mph winds. The weather is some of the cruelest on earth, yet he fights his way through, against blistering winds, snow, cold, thirst, starvation, disease and snowblindness.
Canoe Trip: Alone in the Maine Wilderness, By David Curran. The author canoed the Moose and Seboeis Rivers, and while he mentions them in his book, the focus is on his trip on the Allagash. While the merits of canoeing alone in any wilderness area are debatable, Curran manages well. On of the greatest proponents for solo travel, however not necessarily wilderness travel was Thoreau, who said something to the effect of, “He who travels alone waits for no man.”
Curran’s Allagash journey begins when he is flown into Umsaskis Lake by Jim Stang of Kathadin Air, skipping most of the big lakes. Curran races through his trip finishing it in three days. As quick as it is, he does provide useful information about the river trip, spots to watch for and places to camp.
Two in the Far North, By Margaret E. Murie. The author grew up in Alaska and was the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. She married Olaus Maurie, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and after 1946 the director of the Wilderness Society and accompanied him on his travels through the Alaskan wilderness in the early and mid 20th century. Their travels through the Alaskan back country up previously unexplored rivers and across unmapped mountains ranges together are fascinating. After her husband’s death, Murie continued her work for the cause of conservation.
Cold Summer Wind II: Twenty Years of Canoe Camping North of 60, By Clayton Klein. I read Cold Summer Wind several years ago and enjoyed Klein’s easy style and learning about his adventures in the far north. In this volume he returns to the remote Canadian north and paddles some of the most remote, least accessible lakes and rivers. The hardships of this brand of travel, and the wonders explored, are more real to anyone who has experienced a lengthy canoe trip.
In this volume he incorporates several different trips, accompanied most often by his grown son or daughter. By the time he reaches the last trip of the book, Klein is in his 80’s and feeling the effects of his age. Realizing that these may very well be his last canoe trips, a passion he has pursued his entire life, and in the final years with his son and daughter, make them even more poignant.
Allagash: A Journey Through Time on Maine’s Legendary Wilderness Waterway, By Gil Gilpatrick. The author, a Maine Guide, who has spent a lifetime in the Maine North Woods, divides his story into three parts. The book opens with a description of paddling the waterway today. Gilpatrick talks about the big lakes, the river and the conditions paddlers may encounter along the way. He talks about campsites along the waterway, offers suggestions as to places to explore and things to see.
In part two he offers a brief look at the lumbering history of the area, through the fictional character of Mushrat Murphy. Gilpatrick tells to story of the growth of lumbering in the area over the decades, talks about the men that changed the course of the water’s flow so as to float their logs south to Bangor, and spends some time explaining what life was like during those years when the Allagash was a booming business.
In the final part of the book the author creates a scenario of Native American life 1,000 years ago in Northern Maine. How the Penobscot Indians probably lived and interacted with their environment.
For anyone interested in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and the history of this area, Gilpatrick will not disappoint.
A Place Beyond: Finding Home in Artic Alaska, By Nick Jans. This is a collection of essays by one of Alaska’s best authors. Jans is a pleasure to read. Originally from Maine, Jans went to Alaska in the late 1970’s in his Grandfather’s 1966 Plymouth Belvedere, eventually finding his way to the Inupiaq village of Ambler in the Kobuk River Valley. He became the local school teacher and high school basketball coach in this village of 350 and lived in the shadow of the Jade Mountains of the Brooks Range in artic Alaska for 17 years. His stories of life with this vanishing culture and in the remote Brooks Range are worth the read.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.