Kurt's Reviews > One Winter in the Wilderness

One Winter in the Wilderness by Pat Cary Peek
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Sep 24, 10

bookshelves: adventure, nature, non-fiction, travel
Read from September 12 to 23, 2010

In the summer 1988, when I was a young man of 29, I rafted down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with my dad and the family of a work associate of his. Although I had been born and raised in the great state of Idaho, this trip was my introduction to the vast Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. We chartered a couple of small Cessna airplanes to transport us and our gear to the launch point at the Indian Creek airstrip, which is not accessible by road. From Indian Creek we floated for five days and some 85 miles through the middle of the most remote and rugged and beautiful country in the lower 48 states.

I will never forget that trip. It has had a tremendous impact on my life ever since. Because of that trip I fell in love with the very idea of wilderness and nearly constantly dream of being surrounded by it.

On the fourth day of the float trip I remember being fascinated as we floated past the mouth of a very large tributary entering the Middle Fork from the west. The expedition leader referred to it as Big Creek. Immediately I wanted to know what exciting wilderness existed up that drainage, and I determined to learn more about it.

In the more than 20 years since that time, I have learned a lot about Big Creek. The problem is that I have yet to visit any part of it -- money and time being as valuable as they are. So, the best I have been able to do is to read about the area. One Winter in the Wilderness is the memoirs of a woman who spent an entire winter with her husband maintaining the University of Idaho's Taylor Ranch, which sits on Big Creek in the middle of this wilderness area. Her book is a good description of the nature and wildlife of the area and how it changes with the seasons. Her obsession with being able to observe the elusive cougar was really what kept the book moving more than anything else.

The history of the Taylor Ranch is also described very well by the author's injecting of true stories throughout. The stories are written as if in a fictional way (a small dose of literary license), and they give life to the people before her that lived and worked in this area.
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