Arctic Traverse: Thousand-Mile Summer of Trekking the Brooks Range

Mountaineers Bks. Apr. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9781680516784. pap. $21.95. MEMOIR
Cultural anthropologist/outdoor instructor Engelhard (Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon) takes readers along his exploration of the Brooks Range in Alaska. He backpacked for 48 days, starting at Joe Creek near the Canadian border and 170 miles north of the Arctic Circle, then canoed 10 days down the Noatak River to Kotzebue. Clouds are beautifully and lyrically described as “gray as a prison blanket,” or “jellyfish low on the hills,” and “a day that has grayed into gruel.” He defines “solastalgia” as the grieving for places irrevocably lost and plays with language again when he describes the wildlife and landscape with such gems as “bearanoia,” “hellish tussocks,” and “decapitated summits.” He also quotes a wide array of thinkers, critics, writers, photographers, Zen masters, and more. The book includes notes and a bibliography that’s unusual for a travel memoir.
VERDICT This book gorgeously documents the author’s journey through a wild landscape. For readers of travel memoirs and outdoor adventures.
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