My favourite stories almost always involve ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances so when college lecturer Steve Edwards set forth, alone, into the wilderness, wearing the wrong boots and filled with trepidation, I knew I would enjoy reading about what followed.
As writer in need of peace and quiet, spending seven months as caretaker of a ninety-two-acre backcountry homestead in Oregon’s Klamuth mountains is a perfect opportunity to immerse himself in his work. As a newly divorced twenty-something its the chance to lick his wounds and move on, but from the moment he arrives at the homestead it is clear he has embarked on a life changing experience.
From the outset it is also clear he is no zealous mountain athlete out to pit himself against nature in a do or die struggle to the finish and neither, despite his lack of relevant skills, does he descend into a primal frenzy of guns, traps, knives and camoflage.
Instead, this is the story of a man of peace, although not necessarily a man at peace, who spends seven months in one of America’s last great wildernesses. Its written with a keen eye for detail, a deep love of nature and a gift for lyrical prose that makes you read and re-read certain passages over and over.
This is a book for anyone who has spent time alone on the trail and felt the need to share an epic sunset. It is for anyone who has heard the sound of their own heart beating after making eye to eye contact with creatures they have only seen on TV.
Its also a book for anyone who wants to know what it feels like to hear a creaking floorboard in an empty and remote house at night or what goes through someone’s mind when they find a bear on their lawn eating from the apple tree.
Whether alone on the homestead’s deck, watching the night sky or hiking the Rogue River trail Steve beckons us to his side to share these moments of silent wonder, terror and self doubt.
A five star story.