Life and Death in the Wild

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Life and Death in the Wild

Solo Wilderness Adventures (That End Well and Not)

When you want to get away from it all, but you just don’t have the leave; when you want to be your own and only boss, but your boss does not agree; when you want to have a heart-stopping adventure, but not the lifelong injuries, do so vicariously with these books about solo wilderness adventure. Some, but not all, of these protagonists survive. Some, but not all, of them learn important life lessons. But all of them step out of the everyday and fling themselves into the extraordinary.
   
Between A Rock And A Hard Place by Aron Ralston
Canyoneer Aron Ralston recounts his harrowing six days being pinned by a boulder in a narrow slot canyon, alone. Finding himself in the very last moments of his life—having exhausted all of his food, water and alternatives—Ralston figured out a way to sacrifice part of himself in order to save the whole. A well-written and gripping story of incredible calculations, amazing awareness and miraculous clarity in the face of death.
 
Then watch the movie based on the book: 127 Hours.
 
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Reporter Jon Krakauer relates his assignment to cover the Mt. Everest ascent that claimed the lives of five fellow hikers and barely spared his own. Fresh from the tragedy and swirling with grief, Krakauer analyzes and sheds light on the fateful expedition and the Everest ethos that drove its participants. Equal parts crack journalism and pulsing catharsis, this book is not easily put down or forgotten.
 
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Recognizing elements of himself in the reckless young adventurer Christopher McCandless, Jon Krakauer examines the life and death of the young man that tossed aside his upper-middle-class life for a solo adventure that ended with his starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. With an empathetic eye, Krakauer retraces the young man’s solo journey across America and attempts to fill in the “how” and “why” of McCandless’s tragic end.
 
Then watch the movie based on the book: Into the Wild.
 
For a darker take on what McCandless might have been fleeing from, read his sisters’ account of childhood in the McCandless family: The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless.
  
Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Reeling from her mother’s untimely death, Cheryl Strayed fell into a spiral of self-destruction that ended in a 1,000-mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, for which she was willfully unprepared. Strayed’s memoir—startling and candid—recounts how life on the trail stripped her of unhelpful habits and attitudes and enabled her to reinvent her life.
 
Then watch the movie based on the book: Wild.
  
Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer by David Roberts

In 1934, twenty-year-old wilderness explorer Everett Ruess vanished while on a solo adventure in the remote American West. David Roberts pulls the young man’s life back into focus by compiling and combing through what Ruess left behind—an impressive oeuvre of diaries, letters, poems, paintings and woodcuts. Roberts painstakingly explores the various theories regarding Ruess’s mysterious death while the young man’s mystique lives on in his ever fervent following.