February 12, 2012

Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer

I wish I liked the cold. I would love to do something like Karsten and his wife did in this book. But alas, the Alaskan and Yukon wilderness is not for me.

Karsten and his wife decide to follow a caribou migration.....on foot and skis. The total trip lasts about five months and they go hundreds of miles. They sleep in a tent and just try to keep up with the herd, I'll while carrying only what they can on their backs and avoiding predators like grizzly bears and wolves. Supplies are dropped along the way for them, but its still a very tough journey, but one that is ultimately rewarding as they learn quite a bit about the caribou. With the calving grounds at risk for being exploited for oil, they feel that the trip is necessary to help preserve the land for the caribou.

Karsten as a narrator was pretty good. There are times where I think he's a bit unfair at describing his wife, but ultimately he admires her, and I'm sure she'd probably be snarky too when writing the book because of the sheer amount of time they spent with only each other. The main focus is the caribou and traveling though, so there really isn't a lot of description of people they encounter with the exception of a few airplane pilots who pick them up or drop off their food for them.

If you think the main focus of this book is going to be the caribou, it isn't. This book is more about the total journey itself. Sure they mention spotting the caribou and some of the migration and some other facts, but just as much time is given to their camping supplies and relationship with each other, and the wilderness in general. Its more of a trip book. I'm sure their documentary probably focuses more on the caribou themselves. Which is just fine, but I would have loved to have them go even further in depth about caribou than they did. But hey, they included some great pictures of the animals and some scenery shots as well, so it was nice to put visuals to the book. As a warning, this book does take a stance against drilling for oil in the arctic, so if you're for it, this may not be a read for you.

Very interesting and informative, and just a good read in all. I would definitely look to see if this author or his wife have more books out.

Being Caribou
Copyright 2005
233 pages

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