The Last Season
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The Last Season

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,925 ratings  ·  363 reviews
Destined to become a classic of adventure literature, The Last Season examines the extraordinary life of legendary backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson and his mysterious disappearance in California's unforgiving Sierra Nevada—mountains as perilous as they are beautiful.

Eric Blehm's masterful work is a gripping detective story interwoven with the riveting biography of a comp...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2006)
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Jeter
What a great, great book. Tells the story of Randy Morganson who is a back-country ranger in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is a man who has lived the majority of his life in the mountains and is clearly one of the finest in his rare and seriously neglected profession. In 1996 (it's been a month since I read it, so I may have the dates off) he disappears early in the season. Because of the turbulence in his life that lead up to the hiking season, there is plenty of speculation as to what real...more
Rebecca
I'm a sucker for biographies and suspense novels -- and this one delivers both. The story is fascinating and includes Yosemite National Park as a key character. The book tracks the life and disappearance of Randy Morgenson, a long-time back woods ranger in Yosemite. Morgenson literally grew up in Yosemite ... his father worked in the administrative offices and the family had a home in Yosemite Valley. The story of the family is well developed and includes accounts of their unlikely friendships w...more
Smith
The Last Season is about the life and death (in 1996) of Randy Morgenson, a backcountry ranger in the Sierra Nevada's for 25+ years. The author, Eric Blehm, did an outstanding job researching, and writing, this book. The descriptions of the mountains was really interesting and his descriptions of Morgenson and how he became what he was were well done.

The book reads like fiction but isn't. Morgenson was a truly unique individual, he was absolutely dedicated to the wilderness, was friends with som...more
Billy
I liked this book a lot. At first, I was skeptical. It seemed too ghoulish, and too unoriginal – too much like Into The Wild or The Perfect Storm. Gradually, I found myself transfixed, and looking forward to getting a little more time with the book..

It’s the story of a long term (28 years) seasonal backcountry ranger in the Eastern Sierra, Randy Mortenson, who one day goes out on patrol and never returns. The book shifts back and forth from the search (which was extremely extensive) and Mortenes...more
Kathy
I thought this was a great book and very well-written. I loved the descriptions of the Sierra Nevada backcountry. However the book was about a missing backcountry ranger whom I found to be a deeply flawed human being. While we're all flawed to some degree (no one is perfect), the more I read about Randy's behavior towards his wife, friends, and colleagues, the more I grew to dislike him as a person. He had a privileged childhood but could not live up to his potential as an adult. He could not ac...more
Ellen
This book was a true wilderness mystery; an experienced backcountry NPS ranger goes missing in his assigned territory of the Sequoia/Kings National Park. The Last Season documents the life of Ranger Randy Morgenson and the massive search and rescue operation his disappearance triggered. Mr. Blehm had me turning the pages eagerly, swept up in the story, eager to learn more about Ranger Randy and anxious to piece together how he went missing.

What Mr. Blehm, and Ranger Randy through his own journal...more
Jenifer
This is a story about a park ranger, Randy Morgenstern...The one they always turn to for help with search and rescue when someone is lost or hurt. Everyone considers him one of the best. An expert on the land and an expert in wilderness survival. And then he goes missing himself. I couldn't believe how the author kept me on the edge of my seat! Reading detailed descriptions of Morgenstern's life and personality had me wondering if he could have made a fatal error in judgement that cost him his l...more
Sundry
Nov 09, 2007 Sundry rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in hiking, backpacking, mountains and/or a real American hero.
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was recommended to me by some very enthusiastic park rangers at Death Valley. I am so glad I picked up a copy.

Upon finishing it this morning and reading through all the extra materials at the end of the book, I went straight to my notebook to write about the ideas that it provoked.

On the surface, it's a story about the life and disappearance of Randy Morgenson, who spent 28 summers as a ranger in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. But it's also about what it takes to be a back...more
John
Eric Blehm, from North County and a SDSU journalism and recreation major, was told to solo the John Muir trail for background and he did.

The life of Randy Morgenson was one of idealism and love for his beloved Sierra as a seasonal back country ranger. This hardy breed of outdoorsman and woman "safeguard the Sierra from people and the people from the Sierra. Patient educators, first aid and body recovery, they do it all with virtually no benefits and low pay.

Randy grew up in the beauty of Yosem...more
Melanie
Nov 08, 2007 Melanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Outdoor adrenaline junkies
Somehow, true stories always have such a pull for me. Although many of us will know how the book ends (the primary events described are from 1996) prior to reading the first page, the author keeps us interested. Suspense builds, and at times I found myself wanting to shout through the walls of time, to tell the rescuers the clues. I docked a star because I feel towards the last third of the book it becomes unnecessarily detailed. Every action of every search team is logged. I was so excited to g...more
Crocker
If you liked "Into the Wild", you'll love this book. Randy Morgenson is a backcountry ranger in the Sierra Nevada and Kings Canyon national parks.

Randy never really got people, but he really understood nature and being isolated in it. Growing up with family friends like Ansel Adams set the tone for his view on the world.

In much the same vein as "Into the Wild", Randy goes missing early in the book and the author takes you on a recount of his life and what might have happened to him via intervie...more
Patricia
Blehm took me so deeply into the back country that Randy Morgenson loved that I felt the sweat collecting under my backpack and my muscles burning with exquisite exertion. Despite, knowing the outcome of The Last Season, this book is predicated on tension that propelled me through the book with curiosity. I read long past when I should have turned out the light because I could not stop at the section breaks. I just had to read what happened next. I'm a fan of Jon Krakauer, and Blehm writes in a...more
Brooke
Jul 21, 2008 Brooke rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves nature
This was a hard book for me to get through. It was slow in spots, but I guess I expect that from biographies. However, once I started reading, I felt like I owed this book my full attention and I wasn't about to quit reading it without finishing it. It is definately NOT light reading. A person needs time to get through this book to really appreciate it and what it's about.

Being a Montana girl (from the mountains), I felt like....had my life taken a different turn way back when (I live on the fla...more
Preeti
Wow. Amazing, amazing book. The writing was superb and I learned a LOT. I picked this book up prior to my first trip to Yosemite National Park in California (US) - even though it mainly takes place in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, it involves Yosemite as well.

The book is about a backcountry ranger, Randy Morgenson, who went missing in 1996 but it's about so much more than that. It's about nature and wilderness, being free, about the parks... It talks about his family, who knew Ansel A...more
Bobbi
If you like Jon Krakauer books you'll probably like this one. Blehm is nowhere near the writer that Krakauer is, however, but it's an interesting story, anyway.

Randy Morgenson is a seasonal park ranger in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. He goes missing one day and a massive search begins. He's been having trouble with his marriage and an affair so people wonder if he's committed suicide. I think Blehm pads the story a bit too much, however, with irrelevant information to make this into...more
Margaret
I loved it! I never knew that back country rangers existed - that men and women are dropped into national parks to monitor the park and the rare backpack hiker. What an adventure. The story was beautiful and the mystery of the seasoned back packer missing had me waiting to exhale. The links to Adam Ansel(photographer) and Wallace Stegner (author of Angle of Repose, a must read) were such artistic added value. You wanted Randy Morgenson to be the person portrayed, yet you could read between the l...more
Fayette


Read this book while camping in the Coconino National Forest, which was a great way to make it even more real. I do not think I am strong enough to be a back country ranger, not just physically, but emotionally either. At times it sounded very romantic, especially when the newlyweds spent a winter season together in the woods, but it also sounded very lonely. On the other hand, the older I get the more value I can see in living simply, quietly, and harmoniously with nature. This book was though...more
Kathleen
The Last Season is a compilation of evidence about the disappearance of Randy Morgenson, a Park Ranger in the High Sierra. From the beginning, the reader is lead to suspect it was a suicide. Friends described Randy as depressed, not himself, withdrawn, sometimes bellicose. He'd had an affair with another ranger and lied about it to everyone, including his wife. Then he'd tried to patch up his marriage only to leave again.

While it's clear from his diaries that he truly loved the wild mountains a...more
Gillian
Dec 02, 2010 Gillian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Outdoor enthusiasts
This is a true story about Randy Morgenson, who worked as a seasonal ranger in Kings Canyon National Park for 28 summers. He disappeared while working in the backcountry in 1996. This book details the search efforts as well as his childhood growing up in Yosemite Valley. This book reminds me of Krakauer's Into The Wild, so if you have read that and enjoy it, you would probably enjoy this book as well. It was suspenseful and hard to put down and made me want to get out into the wilderness.
Jen
Very gripping, tragic true story of Randy Morgenson, a ranger who went missing in his beloved mountains while on duty in the 90s. His story was featured on a recent episode of "Disappeared" and it was so compelling that I actually ordered this book. the book is not only about his disappearance and the grueling search and rescue that followed, but it does a fine job of giving this amazing man a fine biography, including lots of his beautiful writings about the wonder of nature.
Patti
I am an Adventure story addict and this is one of the all time best. It has definitely earned a place on my bookshelf! If you love true stories about rescue and adventure, this book is for you. If you enjoy the beauty in the world around you, this book will inspire you. It has a little of all of the human condition in the tale which makes it a story you can't put down. Long after it is over you will still be pondering what the message of this book is to you.
Amie
I was expecting a true story search and rescue thriller, which it was... but I also learned a ton about the park service, search and rescue operations, the lifestyle, temperament, challenges and priorities of backcountry rangers, as well as the fact that backcountry rangers even exist! It made me want to go backpacking, immediately, but this time with plans A-D for safety. I really enjoyed this book. It opened my mind to a lot.
Amanda
I loved this book. We read it before, during, and after our backpacking trip into King's Canyon National Park, and I guess it's a measure of how good the book was that I actually lugged a hardback copy with me in my pack. It was mysterious and fascinating and really makes King's Canyon come alive. The best part: the mystery DOES get solved! (I wasn't actually sure of that when I started reading it...)
Topher
Oct 03, 2007 Topher rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: outdoors interested people
Shelves: non-fiction
I hiked the AT in 2001. I miss being outside...its really rare for there to be more than 2 or 3 days when I don't think about it. When I decided to leave Cisco and go back to school, I originally thought I was going to get a degree in forestry, and try to get a job as a forest ranger.

I could see me ending the same way as this story. It just left me feeling sad.
Jesse
Sep 26, 2007 Jesse rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hikers. Divorcees. Story tellers.
This book is the story of a park ranger who went missing and ended up dying, but it's also the story of reflections on a failed marriage, of reflections on what it means to be "in the wild" these days, and of reflections on what it means to search and search for something and not immediately find it. I would definitely recommend this one.
T.M. Williams
Every once in a while a story comes along and does all the right things. I think readers, in a way, are hunters. We read book after book because we yearn to be lost in a world, to find 'that' book, to feel things we didn't know we could feel. The Last Season does that and more. This is truly one of the greatest books I have read. I can't imagine anyone else writing Morgenson's story and doing it justice the way Blehm has. It's a special story and one that will forever haunt me in a bittersweet w...more
Joan
This narrative nonfiction is the story of the real life mystery of the disappearance of a long-time backcountry NPS ranger, Randy Morgenson, in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park in California's Sierra Nevada, and the ultimate solution to the riddle. Extensive backcountry searching and investigations went into solving the mystery, and extensive interviews and research went into writing the story, which is really a tribute to the rangers who safeguard our national treasures. Much of the action ta...more
Ben
This was a well written account of the sierra nevada's and the life of a back country ranger. It made me want to explore some remote areas of a mountain!
Joann Davis
Good read to help you appreciate backcountry rangers in National Parks and realize what a vast country they are patrolling.
Kessia Reyne
The Last Season is the story of Randy Morgenson, an elite backcountry ranger with the National Parks Service. It carefully chronicles his mysterious disappearance and the furtive search for him in the high country of the Sierras. But more than the adventure and mystery of his disappearance, this is a tale of romance between a man and the mountains he loved. The wilderness was Randy's teacher, his church, his muse, a voiceless victim under his charge, his lifelong passion. And so Blehm's retellin...more
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“In any case, perhaps the quest for data to support our actions gets overemphasized. After all, our emotions distinguish us. Art and poetry and music are from and to the human heart, as is, for many, our relationship with the land.' ~ Randy Morgenson” 3 likes
“The least I owe these mountains is a body. - Randy Morgenson” 3 likes
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