The Last Season

 McClure Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park

McClure Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park

 

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“The Last Season” written by Eric Blehm

“OK. Total Disclosure: I worked with and was a friend of Randy Morgenson — the subject of this book — for over 25 years; I was also interviewed for the book (endlessly, it seemed).

For all that, when I read this (a manuscript copy), I found it compelling. I mean, I lived the whole thing pretty intimately, but kept wondering “hmm, I wonder what happens next?”

A number of the reviews emphasize Randy’s apparently troubled life. That’s kind of true, but I notice one of the reviewers calls it a love story — a love for the land. And I think that’s closer to it. It’s also one of the few honest descriptions of the exciting, glamorous life of a backcountry ranger (the fast cars, alluring women, investment strategies…)I’ve run across (Jordan Fischer-Smith’s “Nature Noir”, though not about backcountry rangers, is the other excellent account of rangering).

Anyway, if you’re a hiker or one of those folks who always wanted to be a backcountry ranger, this is the book to read. Maybe a cautionary tale but, really, it’s all about not being happy anywhere else.”  – George Durkee

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Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

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“I was a backcountry ranger in the High Sierra and Rocky Mountains for many years with both the Natl Park Service and USDA-Forest Service. This is a compelling book because it captures the culture, values, accomplishments and limitations of living a backcountry life. “Wilderness teaches a person the answers to questions that we have not yet learned how to ask” (photographer Nancy Newhall). To paraphrase Isaac Walton’s “The Compleate Angler” (1650), “time spent in mountains will not be counted against the rest of your life.”

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peaks along the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon Park

peaks along the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon Park

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Randy was well known and admired because he lived a backcountry life and lived it well. He modeled first-hand knowledge and care and respect for wild ecosystems. Being a backcountry ranger immerses you in rarified air and light, extends the useable light of every day, winter and summer and in many ways is living a religious experience, a special calling. This sets you apart from the every day world and makes it hard on relationships, personal and professional. Each day is a wealth of learning opportunities that teaches you to not take life and people for granted.

Randy lived with the understanding of Sierra Nevada mountaineer Norman Clyde, “the mountains will always be there tomorrow, make sure you can say the same.” Randy relished every day with Clyde’s thought in mind. We are all envious of Randy, he lived a full life (including the ups and downs) doing what he loved and doing it well.

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Mineral King Webcam

Mineral King Webcam

http://www.webcams.travel/webcam/1349965225-Weather-California-Sequoia-Kings-Canyon-National-Park-Mineral-King

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As with Alsup’s (2001) “Missing in the Minarets” the search for Walter A. Starr, Jr., in 1933, “The Last Season,” immerses you in the culture, shortcomings, accomplishments and day-to-day activities of Sequoia-Kings Canyon Natl Park backcountry. Everyone involved is passionate. A large, long-term investment of physical and emotional energy and effort commands a high price. The rewards are outside of ordinary life and difficult to put into words. Those who look in from the “outside” do not always understand when a life is cut short. The rewards are not monetary and “University of the Wilderness” curricula is not always valued or recognized in an urban culture. Rewards are emphemeral and are often taken away just as quickly as they are offered.

We are privileged to have known Randy Morgenson.” – Scott M. Kruse

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Meadow North Of Granite Pass In Kings Canyon National Park

Meadow North Of Granite Pass In Kings Canyon National Park

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Filed under California, Healing, Nature

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