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The Last Season

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  8,069 ratings  ·  694 reviews
To pick up The Last Season is to lose oneself in a mesmerizing story about a place few could survive in and even fewer have visited -- the unforgiving backcountry of the Sierra Nevadas. Blehm narrates this true account of the disappearance and search for Randy Morgenson, a National Park Service ranger who, one morning after 28 seasons on the job, failed to answer his radio ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 2006)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,069 ratings  ·  694 reviews


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J.L.   Sutton
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
While it had its moments, Eric Blehm's The Last Season misses the mark. Blehm's story focuses on the search for National Park Service Ranger, Randy Morgenson (who after 28 seasons as a ranger has gone missing in the Sierra Nevada backcountry). The Last Season, I think, tries to do too much. Blehm documents Morgenson's early life (the formative influence of Ansel Adams as well as his attraction to the outdoors) along with a detailed history of backcountry rangers (and their miserable pay). Blehm ...more
Kathy
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Will Byrnes
Oct 05, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jeter
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Ms.pegasus
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
Becky
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
Jenifer
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Rebecca
Jun 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Christine
The audio book is really good, there is a bit too much repetition but Blehm's look at a the story of a missing ranger is a thumping good read.
Amber Dunten
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm a city-dweller who loves Big Wild Nature from afar. I grew up bookish but also loving the woods, and there was a stage of my life, when I was healthy, relatively young, and relatively fit, when I made an honest effort to be a bona fide “outdoorsy” sort of person. I kayaked. I hiked. I even took up rock climbing for a few years. But even at my fittest, experience forced me to admit I wasn't really cut out for it, and “bookish” was more what I was meant to be.

First, there's my size. At 4'11”,
...more
Patricia
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
John
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jean
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
“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
...more
Ellen
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Smith
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Hank
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Is this a non-fiction mystery book? Is this is a poetical appreciation of nature book ala Abbey or Thoreau? Or is it trying to be both yet accomplishing neither. The story of Randy Morgenson combined with a small slice of the the National Park Service was interesting. I never knew anything about backcountry rangers even though I have spent a large part of my life in the mountains of Colorado. Blehm also, at times, was able to thread the needle between purple prose and mundane descriptions to bri ...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
Crocker
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Linda
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even though most people who pick up this book will know something of the story, Blehm manages to preserve the much of the mystery involving Randy Morgenson's disappearance. Blehm creates suspense, and he delivers. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew what happened. I was, also, impressed by not only the amount of research that Blehm did but, moreover, how he used it to paint a compelling portrait of Randy. The Last Season met all of my expectations. I would highly recommend it.
Arthur Simonds
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sundry
Oct 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
James Chally
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brooke
Jun 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Billy
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dayna
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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, I w ...more
Melanie
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Bobbi
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jessica
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I was familiar with the story of Randy Morgenson's disappearance from the TV show Disappeared. Because of already seeing the show I knew the ending so it wasn't a surprise for me, but Blehm gives a LOT more detail about Randy's life, the difficulties of the two years leading up to his disappearance, and the actual search for him by his fellow rangers. Randy had an incredible childhood and parents who really encouraged his love of nature, photography, and wilderness. While his parents chose to wo ...more
Peter J.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book this engaging and well written deserved a better subject. As I continued into the book, I found myself becoming uninterested in Randy and more drawn to those around him, intrigued by what was driving them in their search for a man that, beyond their normal duties, seemed to think so little of people. Randy's ecological conservatism seemed to be as much about protecting his personal enjoyment of the land as much as the land itself. I found myself wishing the book were about his father Dana ...more
Tam G
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

I enjoyed this. There was a nice 60s-nature-freak-artistic-activist vibe, the kind where there are liberal quotes from Thoreau, Abbey, and Muir. The biography centers on a complex person, backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson, and his disappearance from his post after almost 30 years as a backcountry ranger.

It did spend the first half of the novel moving between Morgenson's early life and the disappearance and SAR (search and rescue). As can happen when that device is used, you prefer
...more
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Anyone else read this? 5 31 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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