The Last Season (P.S.)
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Destined to become a classic of adventure literature, The Last Season examines the extraordinary life of legendary backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson and his mysterious disappearance in California's unforgiving Sierra Nevada—mountains as perilous as they are beautiful. Eric Blehm's masterful work is a gripping detective story interwoven with the riveting biography of a complicated, original, and wholly fascinating man.
exactly what that was for.” Randy had come upon such a board on July 13, 1996, between Sawmill Pass and Woods Creek—just one week before he disappeared. He wrote in his logbook: “I found a camp with a board nailed to a tree trunk where in the ’60s we stapled cardboard ‘Mountain Manners’ signs. Dick McClaren era. How many working today would see that board and understand?” A few more yards and Nash bent to pick up a granola bar wrapper, stuffing it in his pocket. “Another test,” he said with a
regularly attended Sunday services in the valley, Dana wouldn’t think twice about replacing a pew with a chunk of granite on a Sunday morning hike to, for example, the wet and boggy Summit Meadow in search of the “ghostly” white Sierra rein orchid or, as he would record in his notes, “Habenaria dilatata of the leucostachys variety.” Dana would talk to the animals of the forest as though they were neighbors, saying “Good morning, Mrs. Squirrel, how are the kids?” when passing a trailside burrow
to be helicoptered in, because, as Smith explains, “they were the two rangers in the park who could survive out there if the helicopter couldn’t make it back out because of weather.” On one occasion, Randy and Evans were helicoptered into the backcountry near Triple Divide Peak. A plane had crashed, it was windy, snow squalls were settling in over the higher peaks, and just as they hopped down into the swirling snow, the helicopter took off with their packs still inside. The two rangers looked
environmentally conscious ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks—in the entire National Park Service, many speculated. He’d adopted Edward Abbey’s term “syphilization” when describing civilization; when his fellow rangers made comments like “When I get back to reality,” he’d correct them and say, “Hey, this is reality.” For Randy, park headquarters at Ash Mountain was “Trash Mountain,” and happiness was “Trash Mountain in your rearview mirror.” He was a stone’s throw from 50, and
point of the stream—a shallow, flat-water area above a small waterfall, 50 yards downstream from the lake Seeker had fallen into the day before. From there, you can either access a loose-gravel gully on the east side of the creek that leads down to the lake or follow the creek itself, which enters a granite chasm and drops in elevation fairly rapidly over a series of small waterfalls. During the search, the chasm was full of late-season snow and ice, but normally it would have been the type of