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Another Epic Tale from the Sierra

Discuss your favorite wilderness related books. Share your favorite poetry, quotes and folktales. Here's your chance to showcase your creative side!
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Postby Baffman » Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:30 pm

I just started reading The Last Season a couple of days ago. So far I'm amazed. I'm pretty sure I've met Rick Sanger at Rae Lakes some years back too. So far I'm having a hard time putting it down.

Rob



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The Last Season

Postby Blues » Mon May 01, 2006 1:52 pm

I just finished reading the book last night (and wrote a small review on amazon.com this morning).

I was very impressed with the manner in which the story was told.
(This coming from a recently retired federal law enforcement officer with a bit of history in hiking, climbing and backpacking in the Sierra, Wind Rivers and Wrangells).

George Durkee, if you read this, I tip my hat to you and your compatriots for the long years of service, dedication to the mission and loyalty to your friends and the mountains you so obviously love. I salute you all as I felt a very strong kinship as I read the unfolding tale. (My amazon.com review gives a bit more detail that I won't bother rehashing here.)

As for the Gonzales book, I feel much as George did.
Though I felt the content of the book was both useful and of interest, I thought that Gonzales had a bit more of his ego involved than I cared for in the reading.

By the way, another interesting read is Dr. Ken Kamler's "Surviving The Extremes" which I finished recently.

Greetings and my best to you all. :cool:
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Postby biffnix » Thu May 04, 2006 10:04 am

Well, I just finished The Last Season a couple of days ago, and I enjoyed it. I live in Bishop, and while I never knew Randy Morgenson, I do work with Lo Lyness on a fairly regular basis. She works in Inyo schools helping to integrate technology into the curriculum. The book reveals an intensely personal dimension to someone I know only professionally.

While it's fascinating to read about someone you know, I must confess it feels voyeuristic. I suppose that it's cathartic for those involved, and that certainly has validity. However, after reading it, I tried to reflect on the literary value. I came up with plenty of facts that I didn't know about, but wasn't able to quite put my finger on any point of view that the author was trying to portray.

Perhaps I just haven't given it enough thought. The book is wonderfully descriptive, and I certainly have a new appreciation for backcountry rangers. I'm just sort of puzzling over why the book was written.

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Postby Snow Nymph » Thu May 04, 2006 7:58 pm

I haven't had a chance to pick up the book, but I'll get it soon.

Welcome to the forum, Joe! Good to see you here!
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby Trekker » Thu May 04, 2006 11:40 pm

I just bought the May 'Backpacker' magazine a few days ago, saw the article listed on the front, and wondered whether anybody ie George would be mentioned. Well, after reading this thread I opened to the article and, lo and behold, I read his name and then, there's a picture of him and his wife! It was taken at Crabtree meadow ranger station. First acknowledgement in Roper's 'Sierra High Route' and now this! I will be reading this in the next couple of days. It's an excerpt by Blehm. Apparently another excerpt will be in the June issue.
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Postby biffnix » Fri May 05, 2006 8:09 am

Snow Nymph wrote:I haven't had a chance to pick up the book, but I'll get it soon.

Welcome to the forum, Joe! Good to see you here!


Howdy! Recognize your handle from the Mammoth forums, of course. Perhaps we'll meet someday in the backcountry!

I think you'll enjoy the book. It certainly seems well researched, and provides some interesting insight into the transient nature of the ranger life.

I'm still considering the personal angle. I know the author was going to be at Spellbinder books in Bishop to sign copies, and my wife picked up the book for her book club. I sort of snuck in there and read it before she could! :) Since she was going to see the author, I wonder if she'll have the chance to ask questions.

Anyway, a good read.

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Bishop, CA
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Weirdness in the Sierra

Postby gdurkee » Fri May 05, 2006 10:19 pm

Joe:

I can well understand the voyeuristic feeling you had reading it. When I read the manuscript (and I haven't yet read the book...) I had the same feeling, but distanced myself and got sucked into it as a story, kind of forgetting (well, sort of) that I knew it pretty intimately. It's kind of good to be reminded, though, that in all these "true life" stories we read or see on television, that there's real people involved and we're seeing only a small part of their total life -- and one necessarily edited by the writer to tell the story.

Eric (the author) had heard about Randy's disappearance through friends and was drawn to it well before we found Randy. I think he found it a compelling way to tell the story of someone who's life was dedicated to a place. I think it's fair to say that being a backcountry ranger is a pretty unique job in this, or any, society. To continue doing it at the sacrifice of what might be considered a "normal" life -- regular salary, health insurance, retirement, the occasional 'attaboy' from your company -- is, in itself, a pretty good justification for the story. Randy just made it a little weirder. But accurate.

It's an addiction and I'm not sure there's such a thing as a happy ex-backcountry ranger. You might not want to bring the book up with Lo, but I think she and all the other ex's miss it quite a bit... .

And, in other news: I just want to slip this in somewhere. One of our own, backcountry ranger Rob Pilewski, got the NPS Valor Award last week for his actions on the lightning accident near Crabtree Meadows last summer. That's two of the crew who have been so honored. Very cool and very much deserved.

Finally: Blues. Thanks for the attaboy and happy retirement. Maybe run into you in the backcountry.

Take care,

George
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Re: Weirdness in the Sierra

Postby ERIC » Fri May 05, 2006 10:24 pm

gdurkee wrote:And, in other news: I just want to slip this in somewhere. One of our own, backcountry ranger Rob Pilewski, got the NPS Valor Award last week for his actions on the lightning accident near Crabtree Meadows last summer. That's two of the crew who have been so honored. Very cool and very much deserved.


Absolutely! People like you, George, should be commended for their efforts which affect us all! I'm pleased there is an honor like that in place.
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Postby AldeFarte » Sat May 06, 2006 12:14 am

Dittos to what Eric posted George. Without animosity, I must say that I have not got much use for ranger types , but like the Coast Guard, you are happy they are there when you need them. And someone has to "bop" the dummies on the head when it is due. The concept of honor, in general is sorely lacking in our society today. jls
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Re: Weirdness in the Sierra

Postby Blues » Sat May 06, 2006 7:30 am

gdurkee wrote:Finally: Blues. Thanks for the attaboy and happy retirement. Maybe run into you in the backcountry.

Take care,

George


George, thank you for the well wishes. It'd be my distinct pleasure if we were ever to cross paths in the future.

As an aside, reading Blehm's book has now lead me to several other books amongst which are "Into The Wild", "Lost", which is based on the SAR journals of a ranger in the Smoky Mountains (now retired), as well as the sagas of Everett Ruess and Walter Starr Jr. (The latter two I am currently awaiting.) (I find that these books offer a perspective often overlooked in books on outdoor survival and skills.)
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Great Book! Amazing People!

Postby rzellner » Thu May 18, 2006 6:32 pm

I first heard about this book via an excerpt they had included in this months Backpacker Magazine. I was immediately intrigued. I knew I would be able to relate to the person the story revolved around because we have a lot in common. Nature, backpacking, photography, etc. I had no idea that this was only the beginning.

Other than sharing the same nickname, I, like Randy also spend a great deal of time away from home traveling for business. Nothing to the same extent as a backcountry ranger though. This book made me think....about a lot of things. There are many life lessons that can be learned from this story. I couldn't put it down.

This is an amazing read. Probably more so for someone who can relate to the thoughts, morales, and lifestyle of the extrodinary group of individuals this story centers on. If only in small ways. I now have A LOT more respect for rangers and what they do.

By the time I finished the last chapter, I felt dissppointed. Disappointed only in the fact that I felt that I had grown to know everyone involved and felt connected on a mental level to their thoughts and anquish felt during the timeline the book covers. Obviously, that can't be true. I haven't met anyone involved in the book. My hat is off to the author for doing such a great job though. Still I feel like I am losing something by not being able to continue the story. I can't help but think about things like, How's Judi doing? Where did all of the people involved end up? Who's still a backcountry ranger?

I'm very glad to see George is part of this discussion. Hopefully you will read this. I have a great deal of respect for you. Not only for the job you do. You are are a true friend to the Morgenson's. It's hard to find that type of character in a person. Especially today. I can only hope that some day our paths will cross and I'll have the honor of shaking your hand.

Being the amateur photographer I am, I would like to see more of Randy's photos. I'm assuming Scofield has them. I've got this question for you George. Is there any possiblity a website could be created with scanned images of some of Randy's work? If this sounds like a good idea and I could help in any way, send me an email at rzellner2@cox.net.

My best wishes to everyone on this discussion.

Thank you,

Randy
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Postby giantbrookie » Sat May 27, 2006 11:38 am

Wow, I can't believe I missed this thread. This has been a point of curiosity for me and my wife. We were up in the area where the fellow had vanished when folks were still looking for him. I remember my wife being pretty spooked by the whole thing ("what if we come across the remains") given that we were going all over the place in remote off trail destinations in the area (Arrow Creek, Window Creek, etc; didn't do the White Fork, although we did think about it). I remember speculating without knowing anything about the circumstances of his disappearance that he had probably died in a climbing accident on some remote technical route somewhere. We had encountered several backcountry rangers over the years and were in awe of their incredible physical condition. Given that, I figured this guy might have really been far off the beaten path when he vanished. We didn't realize at the time that our off trail travels took us much closer to the area he was found in than we might have expected.

Now with this book out, I guess I can't help but be curious and pick it up.
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