Like, Annie, I devour books, especially when it involves lives that I do not live. Learning about those dedicated to wilderness and preservation always amaze me. Here are Annie’s thoughts on Eric Blehm’s book The Last Season.

I’ve always been a lover of books, I get it from my Mom. Growing up there she was frequently reading a book, sitting near a window or even while basking in the sun outdoors. You could find me lying next to her on a blanket spread out over the cool grass facing the rolling hills of the countryside. Of course I’d have to take breaks to go and play about in the yard or fields and return to find my Mom still reading. She would put her book down to listen to my adventures or my new glorious find and I would rejoin her when I was done or dart off for more play time.

I’d like to say as an adult I’m the same way. I find my schedule so full, I rarely get the opportunity. The world moves as at a faster pace and we are more connected to electronics, work, and family commitments now more than ever.

It’s also infrequent for me to find a book that peaks my interest enough to dedicate the time and interest it takes to read it. There has always been one genre of books I’ve had a passion for, true stories. In a world of Harry Potter and Twilight style books it can be a struggle but I’ve found a whole new fascination for survival stories and outdoor books.

I could read everyone I’d laid eyes on, digital or old fashioned bound book, paperback, or hardcover. It does not matter the type, I devour them, doing almost nothing but reading till I finally reach the end.

Devouring The Last Season

My most recent selection centered around a Backcountry Ranger in the National Parks system. Randy Morgenson was born into a world of camping in Yosemite Valley. Randy’s father, Dana Morgenson had fallen in the love with the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite before Randy was ever a gleam in his father’s eye. Dana and his new wife, Esther, routinely camped and explored Yosemite, Dana almost always with a camera in hand.

Soon the Morgensons were washing their boys in buckets with water right out of the Merced River and Dana was offered a job working at the concessionaire near the start of World War II. The family settled into a back country lifestyle working, playing, exploring and living in the park.

It’s easy to see where Randy got his love for the outdoors and backcountry but also his sense of exploration. That love lead Randy to his position in the National Parks Service and eventually to the Search And Rescue (SAR) mission to recover a beloved friend, coworker, and husband.

The Last Season not only tells the tale of the search for Randy but also paints a detailed picture of his life, his person, and dedication to the wilderness.

The book leaves me feeling a little conflicted. The story of Randy’s life from the origins of his passion to the intricacies of what made him tick, to the details of the SAR gripped and enthralled me. While some of the overly detailed descriptions of flora and fauna left me wanting to skip paragraphs and in some cases entire pages. The book flashes back and forth between the present setting and past, adding a little frustration to the overall read for my personal preference.

Eric Blehm, the author, clearly worked diligently to bring to the reader a true sense of the main character and give an understanding to the task faced by those whose patrol the backcountry and SAR teams.

What I learned:

• The struggles faced

The insight given into the National Parks system at the time is eye opening. The bureaucracies and procedures that employees are forced to endure and adhere to while attempting to patrol or search large swaths of uninhabited, undeveloped backcountry is truly enlightening to an otherwise hidden world.

• Experience isn’t everything

You can have the most experience in the world at what it is you do or enjoy and it mean absolutely nothing. Sometimes even the best are just victims to circumstances and forces beyond our control.

• More than a man was lost

Randy became a symbol to me, a dying breed of person and the end of an era. Reading this book, one comes to know Randy Morgenson and even if you can not fully relate to the man himself, you can at least respect him. His love of and dedication to our backcountry wilderness and the Sierra Mountains knew no bounds and went beyond lengths most can’t even imagine. Protection and preservation of the land he loved was the only life he knew and when Randy went missing in the High Sierra so did an Era in which we could be easily disconnected from life and more connected to nature.

Conclusion:

The Last Season despite its small flaws was worth the read and I would recommend it. Enduring the minute issues of the writing style used was worth getting to know the man it centered around and gaining the insight into a world lesser known.

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2 comments on “The Last Season by Eric Blehm

  1. Thanks for the book review, Annie. I love book reviews, and this one definitely sounds interesting!

    Have you read “At The Mercy if the Mountains” by Peter Bronski? If not, I think you’d like it. It also focuses on search and rescues, but is in more of a short story format, with each chapter covering a different mission. It is a really engaging read.

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