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Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  209 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In the spring of 2007, hard on the heels of the worst winter in the history of Juneau, Alaska, Lynn Schooler finds himself facing the far side of middle age and exhausted by laboring to handcraft a home as his marriage slips away. Seeking solace and escape in nature, he sets out on a solo journey into the Alaskan wilderness, traveling first by small boat across the formida...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2010)
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The Call of the Wild by Jack LondonWhite Fang by Jack LondonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerAlaska and Back by Dorothy May MercerAlaska by James A. Michener
Alaska Tales
55th out of 166 books — 141 voters
Desert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyA Sand County Almanac by Aldo LeopoldPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie DillardA Year on the Wing by Tim DeeRefuge by Terry Tempest Williams
Best of Outdoor Literature
20th out of 76 books — 5 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 489)
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Annette
This memoir is about a recent wilderness journey along the coastline of Alaska. Experienced outback guide, Lynn Schooler is overly focused on his advancing age and corresponding loss of physical strength and abilities plus stressed out from working to construct a rural house. What was once planned to be he and his recent bride's retreat, the home that would last past their lifetimes, has now become a physical drain. Schooler recognizes his wife's increased distraction and loss of interest as she...more
Sharon Eve Carson
Jun 30, 2010 Sharon Eve Carson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in nature, wilderness, geology, history, or a touching personal story.
I'm not sure why there are two editions of this recently released book, but I was so taken with this story that I will post my review again:

I can't remember when I was last so engrossed by a book. I stayed up late reading and forgot to feed the cat!

Author Schooler is clearly a renaissance man of the first order, cutting down trees and hewing them into wood to build a Japanese-style home, then going off into the wilderness to face awful weather, floods, and starving bears, while quoting Keats, S...more
Christy
Schooler wraps a lot of histories around the threads of his personal account of traveling alone in the wilderness, which end up eclipsing his story. It starts to seem that he doesn't have much of a story, that his book is really an historical account of the Alaskan coast.

The emphasis and detail and weight of the histories weaken his story. The two don't seem to come together enough to support the narrative. Instead, every chapter reads like steps or compartments; here's the history part, and her...more
Brandon Clark
Walking Home by Lynn Schooler provides readers with a wealth of historical knowledge about Alaska. Lynn Schooler is frustrated and tired as he tries to build his family home near Juneau, Alaska, doing much of the work himself. His marriage is slipping away from him and a dear friend of his committed suicide. Luisa, another friend, has cancer and Schooler finds it very difficult to say goodbye. Depressed and aggravated at all of his life’s struggles, he decides to get away from it all. Schooler c...more
Clare
LOVE this book too. The first time I read it I raced through it to get to the bear attack (I find accounts of bear attacks weirdly compelling)but this time I took my time and paid attention, though I still read it in the space of one day. There are a few authors that you really feel you would like to spend time with. Pete McCarthy was one, Lynn Schooler is another.

His writing is clear with no frills and though he touches on emotional issues he does it with grace. In fact grace is probably what...more
Sarah
My Review: Let me start by saying that this book isn’t bad. In fact, it’s filled with truly fascinating information about the history of Alaska, action-packed stories of fearless, long-ago explorers, and the chronicles of Schooler’s once in a lifetime trek. But for an alone-in-the-wilderness memoir, this book was surprisingly bland and anticlimactic. With the exception of a brief (albeit terrifying) bear encounter toward the end, most of Schooler’s reflections were actually a bit mundane.

Though...more
Nola
Great stories of a fascinating area. I've been fixated on this coast since reading Jim King's book, and want to get there someday. What is very surprising is that the stories of shipwrecks and other accidents there are things I had heard so little of. I had only heard something vague about the earthquake and ensuing wave in Lituya Bay until just recently, in reading Alaska Ascents, I did find out details, but not as many as in this book. And I know one of the people that was involved in the plan...more
Francine
I picked this up from the library based on my recent love for these "take me along with you, cuz I ain't goin' there" books. Schooler did a fine job of injecting history into his journey such as the 1958 Fairweather earthquake which caused the highest tsunami ever recorded at 1720 feet (Columbia Tower is 900+something; pee NOW). He also writes about indigenous people who inhabited the areas he walks through and some of the local characters who helped put these places on the map. Good bear tips i...more
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff
A thoroughly interesting book. I got this one because I enjoyed "The Blue Bear" so much, and Alaska is one of my favorite places, even though I've only been there once.

In this book, the author, suffering from marriage troubles, goes for a lengthy hike alone into the backcountry of Alaska. He intersperses his own experiences with historical events that occurred in the same places as his trip. It was a fascinating read, both when he spoke of the history of Alaska and his own experiences. Unlike m...more
Tom
I have read dozens of these wilderness adventure books and this one has just made it to my top 10 list. Page turner. Two notable elements that have stuck with me are (1) the description of walking across a raging glacier melt watercourse and (2) the two short sentences that describe in factual terms just how a grizzly eats a human. I have close to no experience in grizzly country, but I've traversed the High Sierras on the Pacific Crest Trail where I had some very frightening fords, and the auth...more
Emilene
This book does a beautiful job of interweaving human and natural history around one man's solo journey through the wilds of the Alaskan coast. Lynn slips in little gems like the meaning of nautical terms, the purpose of certain construction tools, and the mechanics behind bird migration. He also unravels tales of human endeavor, hardship and spirituality. All this while inviting the reader along on his incredibly personal journey of healing. It's hard to write a story with just one character, bu...more
Kris
There is something about writers from Alaska that can make everything but their state irrelevant and boring. Texans have a way of doing that, too, but to a lesser extent. Schooler was fascinating in this writing, weaving history of the small corner of Alaska with his walk through it. I'd have given it five stars if he didn't have to insert his struggle with his doomed marriage into the mix. The book would have stood tall without that, and yes I feel a little guilty for not being more compassiona...more
Leslie
Overall this book was an interesting combination of nature travel and history of certain parts of Alaska. One thing that bothered me about the title is that it is suggested that this was about a journey into the human heart in addition to the nature journey, and I didn't really find that to be true. Although the author References problems with his new wife and their relationship, and he talks about his connection to some of the people in his community, that is a very small percentage of the actu...more
Arlene Corbin
It really wasn't about the Alaskan Frontier so much as the authors personal path thru life. I prob learned something however!!!!
Anna
This is my last Lynn Schooler book and it makes me sad. If there had to be a last one though, and there did, I'm glad this was it. The Blue Bear was a great introduction into Lynn as an author and person; The Last Shot displayed his thoroughness as a researcher. Walking Home wove both styles together mixing Alaska natural history with his own personal history. The story follows him as he backpacks along the Southeastern Alaska coast on a personal journey to complete his circumnavigation of Mount...more
Jackie Allen
"Walking Home" is mainly a description of the geography, geology, wildlife and history of the Lituya Bay area in Alaska. Overlaying this is the story of Schooler's solitary trek into the wilderness, and his disintegrating marriage.

From the "blurb", I was expecting the focus to be more on the trek, and I felt some of the background descriptions were just a bit too detailed.

If you want to read an informative and interesting book on the Alaskan coast, this is the book for you. If you are after a bo...more
Eva Balga
This book hit the right nerve in my soul and I was fully immersed in the story. I feel deep gratitude to author who enriched me with knowledge of all aspects of wildlife, described so sensitively. His modesty, honesty, expression of vulnerability, insecurity and fear facing enormous Alaskan landscape and his own life was invaluable. Strongly recommended to all who love nature and especially Alaska. I am looking forward to his third book - Last shot.
Nicie
Armchair delite . . . Author goes trekking by himself in remotest Alaska and tangles with grizzly bears so we don't have to! References to middle-aged aches and pains get old (sorry), but are more than fully offset by spine-tingling lore (tsunami! frontier justice! hermits!) from history of the area. Some handy tips on how to cross a raging stream in a flimsy kayak, and reconcile yourself to a failed marriage are included.
Matt Terry
Amazing narrative of a wilderness adventure in Alaska, with some introspection and a little philosophy thrown in. The description of the tsunami in Alaska in 1958, and Lynn Schooler's encounter with a grizzly are captivating- definitely the high points of the book. But the descriptions of the natural environment and wildlife are wonderful. A must read for the adventure traveler.
Erin
Lynn Schooler's descriptions of the Alaska landscape are vibrant and alive with analogies and insight. Part adventure travelogue and part historical document, Schooler manages to meld facts with emotional observations into a fascinating portrait. The edition I read was an advance version and the final version would benefit from a map of the described areas.
Sherry
I love to read about adventures that I KNOW I will never attempt. Lynn writes a historical and biographical book about an amazing hike through some of some very rugged coastline of Alaska. He wrote this over a period of time of personal loss and marriage uncertainty. Since I am from Juneau I knew quite a bit about his wife.
Gail Hardie
3 or 4 stars...a great read for a nature trip through Alaska. I would have enjoyed a bit more of his thoughts and ideas instead of describint what he was seeing. Did enjoy learning about the native Americans of the area. It is a wild country and only a certain bred would do what he does and live to tell about it!
Peter
Some great history of the outer coast in here.
John
Nice, but a little uninspiring, book of a walk taken along the wild Alaskan coast. The encounter with the crazed bear near the end is gripping though. I appreciated the historical digressions more than the author's present-tense narrative of his walk.
Mary
Here comes that subject of getting older again. Lynn Schooler is a good writer and does his research. I am his same age & he has acomplished far more than me. This travelogue describes a journey in progress, on many levels...
Clare
Who knew a walk on a beach could be so compelling? This book, written with warmth and honesty, is part travel narrative, part history lesson and part personal introspective which adds up to a totally wonderful read.
☯Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremy Stephens
This book was okay although a bit boring at times. This was basically a travel narrative of a guy who travels the Alaskan wilderness as part of his mid-life crisis.
Julia
Fascinating geological and sociological notes on Lituya Bay (Southeast Alaska) while the author ponders his own life, where it's been and where it's headed.
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Does this book inspire you to want to travel to Alaska? 1 3 Jun 19, 2014 07:54AM  
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Lynn is a critically acclaimed writer, guide, and outdoorsman whose work has been published in more than a dozen languages. His first book, The Blue Bear, was awarded the French literary prize Prix Littéraire 30 Millions d'Amis. His most recent non-fiction work, Walking Home, won the 2010 Banff Mountain Festival's 'Best Mountain Literature' prize. His first novel, published under the pen name Lynn...more
More about Lynn Schooler...
The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild The Last Shot The Blue Bear Hoshino's Alaska

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“...it does not matter if we are forgotten; what matters is the effect we have on those around us and those who come after us. What matters is how our own lives affect the larger, perpetual community of the living.” 3 likes
“We are candles, I remember thinking, and the wind is rising.” 2 likes
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