A seasoned wilderness survivalist takes on Alaska’s backcountry in his most daring trek to date.
From a young age growing up in Oregon, fish biologist Metz was fascinated by the call of the wild, where he would “feel light-headed and in perfect tune with my body and the world around me, like I belong in the wilderness.” Uniquely attracted to Alaska, the author claims more than a dozen trips there since he was 18, when he became “instantly hooked on the place.” At 30, he began meticulously mapping out a daring hike that would take three months to complete and cover 300 miles across the Brooks Range, an exceptionally remote, mountainous passage “that shifts dangers with the extreme change in seasons.” The area has only been traversed by a handful of hardcore explorers, so Metz planned to stay close to villages to replenish food supplies and then educated himself on the severe weather conditions as well as troubleshooting chance encounters with moose, wolves, bears and the “excruciating loneliness and hours of physical exertion.” Along with his two Airedale terriers, Jimmy and Will, the author left Oregon by plane in late March 2007 and headed for his Northwest coastal starting point of Kotzebue, Alaska, where previously mailed boxes of food and clothing awaited him in ten-degree weather. Metz delivers a spectacularly descriptive travelogue by way of chronological journal entries. With 200 pounds of cargo in tow, Metz travelled via dog-pulled skis, a method called “skijoring,” and he braved howling winds and numbing subzero temperatures, longed for girlfriend Julie and revisited bittersweet memories of his former canine traveling companion, Jonny. Depleting reserves of food and fatigue, as well as a tumble into an icy river, threatened his resolve, but the author’s ordeal remains a dazzling, grueling experience.
An intense treat for armchair adventurers and renegade backpackers. Hopefully the publisher will include a map in the finished book.