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The Last Season

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  5,324 Ratings  ·  502 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
ebook, 384 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2006)
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Will Byrnes
Blehm looks at the uber backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson. In his 28th summer in a dismally paid, and little appreciated job, Morgenson, the nearest thing to John Muir in his neck of the National Park Service, vanished. Blehm looks at this very interesting fellow, no simple mountain man. In fact Morgenson was friends with Ansel Adams, who advised him on one of his passions. Guess which? He was also friends with Wallace Stegner, who offered his wisdom on Morgenson’s writing. Blehm looks not only ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it
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
Dec 30, 2007 Jeter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
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
Experiencing nature can be both mystical and terrifying. There's something wondrous about being totally alone. I have the memory of being in my car, driving down a completely empty road bordered by a vast expanse of wetlands just before dawn. The sky, the stillness, the feel of the air, the unfamiliar muted colors unfurling across a vast expanse were breathtaking. Contrast that with wandering off the barely discernible path in a forest with tree after tree forming a shadowed wall muffling all so ...more
Ranger Randy was a flawed man, torn between a profound dedication to the life in and conservation of the high Sierras, a floundering marriage, and an ending affair. He had a desperate need to protect the earth, and was an embittered employee in a park system that did not listen, nor thank in any meaningful way the seasonal backcountry rangers that are basically the elite guard and special forces rescue team of our national parks. His love for art had been slipping from him as his personal life b ...more
Jun 15, 2007 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 28, 2010 Jenifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jean Poulos
“The Last Season” by Eric Blehm examines the life and death of National Park Ranger Randy Morgenson. During his 28 years as a park ranger, Morgenson was stationed as a back country ranger in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon mountain range. Morgenson mysteriously disappeared in 1996; his body was not found until 2001.

Blehm examines the life of Morgenson and reveals a contradictory figure. He could be considered a dedicated naturalist or an environmental zealot. Apparently, by all accounts, Blehm indi
May 04, 2008 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 01, 2011 Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 28, 2008 Crocker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 30, 2007 Sundry rated it really liked it  ·  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
James Chally
Jan 03, 2015 James Chally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2008 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 30, 2013 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2008 Billy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 14, 2012 Dayna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are familiar with SEKI backcountry you will thoroughly enjoy this book. It is a fascinating portrayal of a man who loved the High Sierra so much it consumed him. It also delves into larger philosophical issues, like what is wilderness for and how should it be managed? The writing was a bit portentous at times - deleting a sentence or paragraph here & there would have made it less overwrought. Also, I think the author should have put the more detailed map in the back. Having said this, ...more
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
Nov 08, 2007 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
Jul 15, 2016 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last Season by Eric Blehm is a tribute to all the people who hike the High Sierras, to back country rangers, and to Randy Morgenson, a back country ranger who disappeared in July 1996. His belonging and body parts were found five years later. How he died is a mystery.

Randy was in his 28th year as a back country ranger at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. He was seen as the expert senior ranger of the High Sierras who knew more about the wilderness than anyone else in the Park servic
Nov 27, 2015 Corey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I once started this book, but set it aside for lack of interest. Decided to give it another chance, and finished it. Morgenson was an extraordinary ranger, deeply committed to the wild, and to helping visitors to the Kings Canyon National Park for 28 years. He was a seasonal backcountry ranger both the ultimate and the lowest of National Park Service staff. This book is the story of an extraordinary man and of the search for him after his disappearence. Morgenson struggled to balance his love of ...more
Bill Currie
May 31, 2015 Bill Currie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I finished I leaned back in my chair and let out a deep breath of air which in itself held my deep felt love of Randy Morgenson and his life story. Though out this book were passages written during his 28 years as back country ranger which expressed such personal love, with his surroundings of the high sierras and their richness of natures most beautiful bounties. In reading this story you begin to reveal in your own experiences if you have ever hiked the back country of the high sierras. F ...more
Misty Olson
3.5 ⭐ Nice change from the standard novel I'm drawn toward. Enjoyed a mystery confounded by natures elements and detailing of the environment and beauty from the perspective of a devoted, insightful, back-country ranger. I was drawn in considerably in the beginning and even more so at the end. The middle portion, going back and forth in time, the back story leading up to the search, was a little too long for me personally. I suspect Randy, the main character, would chastise me for being in a rus ...more
May 23, 2012 Fayette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 26, 2015 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Last Season" is based on a true story about National Park Service ranger Randy Morgenson, who went missing on July 21, 1996. He was a dedicated steward of the High Sierras (Bench Lake is the area he patrolled for 28 years). Growing up in the High Sierras, and scaling Mt. Whitney with his father when he was just eight years old, Morgenson became a movement for environmentalism, and he also revolutionized how NPS rangers did their jobs. What a coincidence that I finished this book a day after ...more
Apr 20, 2009 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 08, 2010 Gillian rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Jul 19, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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...)
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Anyone else read this? 5 19 Feb 23, 2017 07:47PM  
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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” 5 likes
“The least I owe these mountains is a body. - Randy Morgenson” 5 likes
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