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PostPosted: February 11th, 2010, 10:34 am 
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Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:37 pm
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Mark m:

I found Allan Kesselheim's book "Water and Sky: Reflections of a Northern Year" on Amazon and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the recommendation!

For those not familiar with the book, it's an account of a 430 day trip from Jasper down the Athabasca, wintering on Lake Athabasca, across the Barrenlands and ending on Hudson's Bay the next summer. I've already passed the book onto my MD, so may have forgotten some details.

I bought the book chiefly for Kesselheim's description of the reach from Jasper to Athabasca townsite, but he has relativlity little to say about this, since it's fairly straightforward. The most notable episode in this section is a description of being invited to dinner and village dance by the ferry attendant at the Vega ferry.

But the book is nonetheless a great read. Kesselheim and his partner set out on this very ambitious voyage with some trepidation, but quickly find a rythym. They worry about bears and their first and worst encounter occurs precisely as they are portaging around the most fearsome rapids of the trip (Grand Rapinds).

The book neatly divides into three sections: Jasper to lake Athabasca, the winter stay in a hunting lodge cabin, and their completion of the journey (joined by Kesselheim;'s brother and sister-in-law) through what is probably the most worrisome terrain, in the sense that K isn't even sure if they'll find a navigable route.

K is especially best at describing his own reactions to each new experience. He reports his fears, his hopes, his horror at the effluent flowing from the Hinton pulp mills, his obvious delight attending social events en route, his almost constant worry about bears, and the deep fascination he develops as he sees more and more of the north. He is deeply uneasy encountering natives who are intoxicated, unsettled when he finds garbage strewn around a native hunting camp, and yet deeply elated when the group sports a potential campsite that turns out to have stone rings marking eons of native use. To his credit, K doesn't try to render these conflicting and complex thoughts as a coherent whole. He simply reports what he sees and how he feels.

So ... definitely worth a look especially if, like me, year long odysseys are not on your calendar and can only be enjoyed by proxy. I'll be reading "A Very Bad Wizard" next week while skiing across the Wapta.


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PostPosted: February 12th, 2010, 9:30 am 
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Joined: November 12th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Lethbridge, Alberta Canada
Sorry that it didn't have much on the route, its been awhile since I read it and I thought it did...

Glad you liked it though


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