Braving It: Book Launch Features Father Daughter Adventure

The San Juan Island Library in collaboration with Griffin Bay Bookstore invite you to a book launch and reading August 3rd at 7:00 pm at the library with James and Aiden Campbell…Braving It

Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—home to only a handful of people—is a stark and lonely place. So when James Campbell’s cousin Heimo Korth (featured on The Last Alaskans on Discovery Channel and in Campbell’s book The Final Frontiersman, which New York Times bestselling author Bill Bryson called “inspiring, unnerving, and never less than wholly absorbing”) asked him to spend a summer building a cabin on the remote Alaskan tundra, Campbell hesitated to extend the invitation to his fifteen-year-old daughter, Aidan. She was a good student and athlete, but he felt she lacked the life skills she would need once she left home.

The trip would not be easy: Heimo and his wife, Edna, a Siberian Yupik Eskimo, spend ten months of every year in the refuge, where they survive on their skills as hunter-trapper-gatherers, eighty miles from the nearest neighbor and three hundred from the closest hospital. There would be twelve-hour days, mosquitoes, bears, and only an ice-cold creek to wash in. But, as Campbell reminded his daughter, there would also be beauty: rivers with crystal-clear water, rugged mountains, and meadows filled with blueberries. Aidan decided she was up for the challenge and for the time with her father, and so began a unique father-daughter adventure.

BRAVING IT: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild (Crown, on-sale May 10, 2016) chronicles the three transformative trips that Campbell and Aidan made to Alaska. It is an ode to America’s disappearing wilderness and a profound meditation on the role of nature in a child’s development. Fans of nature writers like John McPhee, Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Edward Hoagland, and Barry Lopez, as well as readers of adventure narratives and memoirs such as Into the WildThe Last American Man, WildH Is for Hawk, and Still Points North will be drawn to Campbell’s beautiful descriptions of Alaska’s wilderness. 

At first Campbell hovered over Aidan as she fished for Arctic grayling in grizzly country, limbed and peeled logs with an axe and drawknife, and tried to impress Heimo. The going is slow at first. But after several weeks, Campbell started noticing a change in Aidan—she was becoming more self-sufficient, confident, and capable, so much so that they returned a few months later to help Heimo secure food for the winter. With windchills dipping to 50 degrees below zero, Aidan and Edna ventured out each day to hunt, giving Aidan a hands-on lesson in skinning, butchering, and handling a gun—even sticking her hands inside the warm carcass of a caribou to thaw out her frozen fingers. While she missed the comforts of home and the feeling of being connected to friends and family, she began to see that disconnecting from technology and truly immersing herself in nature inspired her in a way she never could have imagined.

The following spring, Campbell decided to make one last trip to Alaska with Aidan. In Eskimo culture, men do not distinguish between sons and daughters; they believe that girls deserve a rite of passage as well, and they often take their daughters on hunting trips before they leave their villages. This was to be Campbell’s parting gift to Aidan, their last journey together before she left home for college. So they backpacked over Alaska’s northernmost mountains, the Brooks Range, to the headwaters of the mighty Hulahula River, and paddled their folding canoe 110 miles to the Arctic Ocean. The journey took them through one of the planet’s most remote places, a land of wolves, Dall sheep, golden eagles, and bears. It was a thrilling, arduous, and dangerous trip, one that tested them—and their relationship—as never before.

Poignant and humorous, BRAVING IT is a profoundly personal and philosophical exploration of life’s fundamental questions. The book also addresses universal themes such as the importance of nature as a basic human need in an increasingly disconnected and artificial world; the meaning of home; the father-daughter bond; the search for ways to live more fully; how we, as parents, can guide our adolescents with a light but steady hand; and the pain—and joy—of letting go.

Posted on July 27, 2016 at 5:18 am by

Categories: Around Here
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