Breaking into the Backcountry

Steve Edwards

University of Nebraska (publisher)

In 2001 Steve Edwards won a writing contest. The prize was seven months of “unparalleled solitude” as the caretaker of a ninety-two-acre backcountry homestead along the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River in southwestern Oregon. Young, recently divorced, and humbled by the prospect of so much time alone, he left behind his job as a college English teacher in Indiana and headed west for a remote but comfortable cabin in the rugged Klamath Mountains. Well aware of what could go wrong living two hours from town with no electricity and no neighbors, Edwards was surprised by what could go right. In prose that is by turns lyrical, introspective, and funny, Breaking into the Backcountry is the story of what he discovered: that alone, in a wild place, each day is a challenge and a gift. Whether chronicling the pleasures of a day-long fishing trip, his first encounter with a black bear, a lightning storm and the threat of fire, the beauty of a steelhead, the attacks of 9/11, or a silence so profound that a black-tailed deer chewing grass outside his window could wake him from sleep, Edwards’s careful evocation of the river canyon and its effect on him testifies to the enduring power of wilderness to transform a life.

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