University of California Press

Alaska Wilderness: Exploring The Central Brooks Range, Second Edition

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There are still a few places on the face of the globe which can legitimately be called wilderness; and it was Robert Marshall's greatest happiness to experience the solitude of these places where no man had ever set foot. This book records his trips by foot, boat, and dogsled into wilderness areas north of the Arctic Circle, exploring, mountain climbing, and mapping new territories. Marshall's account, based on letters and journals written in the field, is a vivid and personal description of his adventures in remote arctic country. There were a few literate pioneers in interior Alaska, men such as Pike, Schwatka, Stefansson, and Schrader. However, most of the explorations of the territory were made by nameless Eskimos and sourdoughs whose thoughts and deeds died with them. Robert Marshall was one of the fortunate latecomers who found a great reach of arctic wilderness to explore and who left us an exceptional chronicle of his travels.

During several expeditions in Alaska in the 1930s, Marshall came upon deep canyons and primeval valleys, followed streams to their sources, and climbed great mountains of the little-explored Brooks Range. His joy was complete when, standing on some peak never before climbed, he beheld the magnificence of a wild, rugged, timeless world, filled with countless mountains and valleys previously unmapped, unnamed, and unknown.

Marshall died at the age of 38; but in his lifetime he had become a leader among those who demand a stop to the devastation of forests and insist that they be administered in the public interest, with a planned consideration of their various uses, including wilderness preservation.

In the continuing struggle over the proper uses of our natural heritage, Robert Marshall stands as an inspiration to all those who wish to preserve our remaining precious samples of original America. His matchless account of his explorations in the Central Brooks Range is all the more timely and necessary for public information now when the North Slope oil boom threatens with destruction the major part of this magnificent Alaska wilderness.

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