Kirkus Reviews QR Code


A Winter in the Bitterroot Wilderness

by Pete Fromm

Pub Date: May 20th, 1993
ISBN: 1-55821-205-1
Publisher: Lyons Press

 From out of the deep, deep wilds of Idaho comes this story of a short-story writer (The Tall Uncut, 1992)-turned-reluctant- backwoodsman. Fired up by the seemingly romantic life led by mountain men, Fromm accepted a position tending a stream full of salmon eggs in the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness. It was to be a stint of seven months, nearly all of them in the meanness of winter. But even before Fromm arrived at camp, he had second thoughts. This wasn't just backcountry, this was way backcountry, and he was grossly unprepared for all the boogies that swarmed down on him-- loneliness, inexperience, the awesome interstellar cold, fear. Slowly coming to terms with his situation, the author beat back the demons by keeping busy and taking care not to concentrate too much on just what he had gotten himself into. This retelling of his foray into the wild is strangely compelling, considering its unassuming, understated character. Fromm catalogs his up-country days: settling in; looking after his stream; visiting with his few, far, and mostly absent neighbors; wrestling with his ambivalent feelings about the mountain-lion and bear hunts that figure so prominently in the region; taking long, therapeutic hikes that by and by surrendered the lay of the land to him. The author is sensitive enough to have enjoyed moonlight on snow and the eerie silence of the limitless cold, and, with tenderfoot luck, he witnessed an unexpected total eclipse of the sun, an event that sent him into a vital, whirling dance. Nothing outrageous happened, nothing beyond the pale, but his modest adventures reckoned up to a tale well worth the telling. It was a long haul for Fromm, a brute circumstance, full of tribulation. But he survived to write this fresh-faced account. Bully for him.