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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  356 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Lynn Schooler had recently lost a dear friend and was feeling his marriage slipping away from him when he set out on a daring journey-first by boat, then on foot-into the Alaskan wilderness to clear his head. His solo expedition, recounted in Walking Home, is filled with the awe and danger of being on one's own in the wild, being battered by the elements and even, for two ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2010)
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Sharon Eve Carson
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book started slow but turned out to be a fantastic read as well as very uplifting. The author wrote about his walk through the wilderness of Alaska to ponder life as his marriage was failing and a good friend died from cancer. He wrote in a very descriptive manner, and I felt as though I was experiencing the journey, as well. The ending is wonderful and leaves you with lots to ponder. A great read about a fantastic adventure both into the wilds of Alaska and a journey into one man's soul tha ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really well written and informative account of the authors journey into the wilderness. Weaving throughout the narrative are historic events that took place such as the incredible 1958 tsunami that struck the surrounding area. His encounter with an injured grizzly kept me riveted and reminded us of the unpredictability of nature and the elements.
Dawn Ackley
This was an interesting read. I liked the natural world narrative, it was almost like being there. I enjoyed the historical snippets. I had hoped for a different ending, but I would imagine the author did as well.
Brandon Clark
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to finish this book - I really did - but eventually I had to stop at 62%. Parts of it were beautifully written (mostly the descriptions of Tligit culture and Alaskan history). But here are the major problems: First, Schooler misfires by trying to bind this into an wilderness travel story. He takes a relatively short trip and drags it out by walking five feet (which he will describe in one sentence) and then spending 18 pages telling a backstory about a bird he just saw, or a history of b ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author takes a long walk along an unpopulated section of Alaska in an attempt to come to grips with his failing marriage. While that part of the narrative is sad, the reader is treated to beautiful and poetic writing. Mr. Schooler provides interesting and non-scientific explanations of geology (evolution of parts of Alaska), as well as interesting histories of the indigenous people and brave explorers that followed. Mr. Schooler is at his best when he describes the evolution of the plant eco ...more
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Engrossing book with both personal, community and historical context. It's been a long time since I read a book that I did not want to put down and couldn't wait to return to. For me, sometimes the historical stories interrupted the narrator's story, but all was relevant to the places he travels to in the narrative. The native mythology and tsunami stories were fascinating. Still I was most interested in his personal journey which he divulges in bits and pieces as he walks through Southeast Alas ...more
Lisa Pool
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was staying at a nature loving relatives home, and I looked through their book shelf and pulled this one out because I had read another book with the same title "Walking Home". I was told it was a must read and so I found it certainly is. This is an adventure story, a survival manual, a history book, and a nature guide all rolled into one beautifully written package. It's also the author's quest to find himself and deal with some personal issues in his life. I think the lesson to go out alone ...more
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.

Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Schooler is a dedicated Alaskan who brings something of the loneliness of his part of the state to this combination travelogue/memoir. As a dedicated photographer, he has a keen eye for detail which he also brings to life through the pen.

This is a book which attempts to struggle with the challenges of of one's "middle years" and their ultimate tumble towards mortality. The author finds himself reeling from a marriage that is coming apart as he forges through the brutal wilderness of southeast A
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Charlotte R.S.
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable book that brought me right back to my hometown of Juneau, Alaska. This book is a very personal journey in the wilderness and the human heart, as the title indicates. Schooler's writing is clear, fluid, and heart-felt--I almost felt uncomfortable sharing in his very personal thoughts and feelings about a life that seemed to be falling apart around him. But this book is not only a musing in the wilderness. It is also something of an adventure, when he encounters the bear. Having gro ...more
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Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A phenomenally accurate and perceptive account of a wilderness journey that includes small boat travel in raging seas, kayaking in fast-flowing glacial streams, hiking and camping alone in country with far more bears than people, and speaking of the latter -- the most gripping bear story I have ever heard. Schooler also writes eloquently and knowledgeably about the flora and fauna, geology, sea and weather of remote SE Alaska. All of this alone would make a great book.

What makes this book even
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
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rockland-library
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
Sharon Moonbeam
I found this book to be really interesting, and really boring at the same time! I like that the story includes lots of details of living in the Alaskan wilderness and the history of the area, but I found some of it to be beyond my knowledge, and difficult to follow. I visualized the best I could, but those who understand the area, boating, tides and weather patterns, will undoubtably get more enjoyment out of it. I love to read history and this did include several interesting stories and facts a ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-read
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
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keeper-library
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
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
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wilderness
I read this book upon return from an extended hike the author describes. Reading it after the hike gave me a better background understanding of the terrain features the author described. Boyfriend and hiking partner read it before hand and gave some details regarding traditional culture and settler culture history song the route.

This is my second Schooler novel--Blue Bear--and both are highly recommended.

Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Does this book inspire you to want to travel to Alaska? 1 4 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...
“We are candles, I remember thinking, and the wind is rising.” 5 likes
“ 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.” 4 likes
More quotes…