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.
©2006 Richard Leversee (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
"A fascinating account"
“The Last Season” by Eric Blehm examines the life and death of National Park Ranger Randy Morgenson. During his 28 years as a park ranger, Morgenson was stationed as a back country ranger in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon mountain range. Morgenson mysteriously disappeared in 1996; his body was not found until 2001.
Blehm examines the life of Morgenson and reveals a contradictory figure. He could be considered a dedicated naturalist or an environmental zealot. Apparently, by all accounts, Blehm indicates Morgenson conducted himself with complete professionalism in his encounters with visitors to the park system, and he risked his life to assist loss or missing park visitors. The book provides a good description of what the life of a back country ranger is all about on a daily basis.
Blehm reveals that at the time of Morgenson’s disappearance he was at a crossroads in his personal life. He was in the middle of a divorce, had an affair with a female ranger and had become fatalistic about his life. Blehm explores the various theories as to what happened to the ranger. The official report is accidental death.
The book is well written and thoroughly researched. The book is part biography and part detective story. Blehm provides some great descriptions of the Sierra Nevada back country. Jonathan Davis does an excellent job narrating the story. The book is moderately long at almost thirteen hours.
"Started Out Skeptical - But What a Great Story!"
It is just a great human-interest story, the kind of story you usually only get in stories of wartime deeds by military heroes. But this is in an entirely different setting, and it's a great listen.
"Well Written Character Study of an NPS Ranger"
The book is an in-depth character study of a national park service ranger, Randy Morgenson, who went missing while on duty in the California back country of Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks in 1996.
Morgenson was a complicated character, what you might call an extreme environmentalist. It appeared he was at his happiest during his summers working as a park ranger and stationed in the wilderness areas. From all accounts and according to Blehm's research, Randy was well-liked by many. His disappearance affected many people, and this book details the search for him.
I found the book interesting and an easy listen overall. However, I felt it was too long and covered too much minutiae. Very little of the twelve plus hours of listening covered the search and rescue action which to me was the most interesting part. Yet, I had to keep listening as I needed to know the outcome of the search. I had to know if Randy was the victim of an untimely accident, if he just decided to disappear and start a new life, or if he committed suicide. These three options were all viable possibilities, and I spent alot of time pondering the outcome during times I was not listening.
In addition, I spent a good deal of time pondering why Blehm chose to invest so much time and research on this particular man. I also wondered whether Randy was as self-absorbed as I imagined he was, and if so, why was he so beloved by so many co-workers. No easy answers on these questions, and I came away with no firm resolution. Considering how much I thought about the book when I was not listening, I am feeling it was a worthwhile read. In addition, the ending took me by surprise and was not what I was expecting.
Add to this an excellent narration by Jonathan Davis and I would recommend this audio book, particularly to nature lovers.
"Don't Take This Book For Granite!"
Such a compelling story drew me in from the start. I am NOT a backpacker, or avid hiker and I have never visited the High Sierras. I was drawn to this book because I love a good mystery and his disappearance and the circumstances surrounding it drew me in.
But the picturesque, stunningly beautiful world of granite mountains and flowery meadows --and Randy Morgenson's love, reverence and dedication to protecting it made for a most worthy and fascinating read. I envied his idyllic upbringing in the Yosemite valley. Such a unique individual, loved and respected by many, yet, like many of us, flawed and complex and at times hard to understand. A very worthwhile read!
Excellent story and enjoyed the narration. I did not know the outcome of this before I began reading and the story was told so well- the past and search were interwoven with an excellent balance! Thoroughly enjoyed and glad I had 8 hours in the car this weekend to listen
"changes the way you'll view the world"
my definition of a good book is one that impacts you in such a way that you are a different person after you finish it... or you "see" things in a different light. This book does that absolutely. It changes the way I will view nature from this point forward in my life
"Another great listen"
Yes this is a very recommendable book. This is another good book to read if your interested in the human side of the NPS. It also has good insight into the priceless resource that is are National Parks and Forests.
Its a shame the NPS doesnt take better care of their Rangers. They might as well get treated at the VA.
If you enjoy the outdoors this book will inspire you! If you don't, you will soon have a seed of wonder and respect for the outdoors planted firmly in your imagination.
Kept me glued waiting for the next line, hoping the story to end and hoping for it no to. I've enjoyed EricBlehm
"Poignant Story on Importance of National Parks"
Absolutely. The story starts by telling the narrative of what happened to Ranger Randy Morgenson in the High Sierras, summer of 1996, but over time became the story of our collective relationship with the US national park system. What became clear as the story progressed was the function the park system performs for us all, by providing these holy vistas to connect to a greater "why?". Through Randy Morgenson's humility, his sage words and principled behavior, I came to understand what his life ultimately represented, an overwhelming appreciation for the connection between all things, as experienced in his interactions that took place in the High Sierra and Kings Canyon NPS over the 26 years he worked there. The fact that he did not receive benefits not pension, nor even the guarantee of continued employment, yet came back each year with enthusiasm, to work as America's shepherd and guide to the wonders of that high place, speaks volumes about the character of the man. And to his fellow park rangers, as well. Although I've never been to the twin HS/KC NPS, but I have visited to Yosemite a number of times, as well as Glacier NP, Arches NP and the Delaware River National Recreation Area, and each time I visit, I feel that it does not get any better than this, that these American treasures are truly heaven on earth. Randy Morgenson understood this on a profound level.
Randy giving his sermon on the mountain to the students. Wish I could have been there, to hear those inspirational words spoken during an amazing point in time.
The SAR party strategy meeting.
No, enjoy spreading it out.
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