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In the spirit of Jon Krakauer's bestselling "Into the Wild," Eric Blehm's "The Last Season" examines the extraordinary life of legendary backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson and his mysterious disappearance in California's unforgiving Sierra Nevada.
The granite spires of the High Sierra have historically been a refuge of inspiration and adventure for the likes of John Muir and Ansel Adams, as well as for the pioneering rock climbers of the 1960s. But these mountains are as perilous as they are beautiful: here is where the Donner Party was trapped and where scores of unlucky hikers must be rescued every year. "The Last Season" tells the inspiring, poignant story of Morgenson, who, over the course of twenty-eight summers living alone in this craggy wilderness, became a celebrated ranger in the National Park Service's most adventurous unit. For the solitary, introspective Morgenson, who grew up in Yosemite Valley and as a young man honed his mountaineering skills in the Himalayas, this was more than a job -- it was a calling. He became fiercely devoted to preventing outside forces from encroaching on the wilderness he loved.
But over the years, the isolation Morgenson had once cherished took its toll, and he grew increasingly estranged from his wife and friends. When, at the height of his struggles, he went missing without a trace in Kings Canyon National Park, where he had long patrolled, many suspected suicide or foul play. Morgenson, after all, had once said, "The least I owe these mountains is a body." As one of the Park Service's most intensive search-and-rescue operations unraveled, some wondered if they were searching for a man who did not want to be found.
Destined to become a classic in mountain literature, "The Last Season" is a work that is as captivating in its writing as it is compelling in its sense of adventure. It is the result of eight years of research by Eric Blehm to uncover the truth about one of the national parks' greatest mysteries. Blehm's reconstruction of a desperate search-and-rescue operation woven with Morgenson's riveting biography takes readers deep into the heart of the High Sierra and into the little-known and much-romanticized world of the backcountry rangers -- revealing in the end the mind and spirit of a complicated, original, and wholly fascinating man.
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