Mountains of Memory

Mountains of Memory

A Fire Lookout's Life in the River of No Return Wilderness
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256 pages, 22 photos, 5 maps
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Mountains of Memory is a learned and engaging narrative, in the best tradition of Thoreau and Kerouac and Abbey, that offers not only useful information about fire lookouts and fine insights about literature and culture but moving autobiographical revelations from one of the country's major scholars of environmental literature.”—Scott Slovic, editor, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

“Scheese has looked long and steadily across central Idaho and across environmental writing, and his resulting meditation and celebration beautifully documents his immersion in both.”—ASLE

“…this is highly recommended for all collections and will especially appeal to fans of outdoor literature by Henry David Thoreau, Gary Snyder, Edward Abbey, and Aldo Leopold.”—Tim Markus for Library Journal

“The next best thing to actually living on a mountain top, high among the hawks and clouds, is to climb this literary peak with Don Scheese. He is a vigorous, humorous, and perceptive guide, expert at reading landscapes as well as books.”—Scott Russell Sanders, author of The Force of Spirit and Hunting for Hope

“With Mountains of Memory, Don Scheese has done more than just add to the small but highly regarded literature of fire lookouts in the American West. This book lifts into more rarefied air, still: an emerging form of environmental writing where human history and place—the granitic geology of the Salmon River country, Sheepeater Indians, canyon wrens, forest fires, and river runners—all merge…I absolutely loved this book.”—Dan Flores, author of Horizontal Yellow and The Natural West

In Mountains of Memory, seasoned wilderness dweller Don Scheese charts a long season of watching for and fighting fires in Idaho's River of No Return Wilderness & 151 the largest federal wilderness area in the mainland United States. An inspiring tale of self-discovery, Mountains of Memory paints a complex portrait of the natural, institutional, and historical forces that have shaped the great forested landscapes of the American West.

A student of nature writing as well as a fire lookout with over a decade of experience, Scheese recounts his life at the top of the world, along with daring adventures such as backpacking and mountaineering in the Bighorn Crags and kayaking down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. All the while, he touches upon the mysterious and powerful realities of the wilderness around him and stunning dawns visible within the glass cage perched on a 9,000-foot mountain, stirring flashes of lightning visible all around the dark landscape as the radio crackles with reports of strikes observed and fires spotted, long-awaited trips down the mountain to civilization for cold beer and hot pizza.

In the tradition of Edward Abbey and Gary Snyder, Don Scheese offers readers a meditation on the meaning and value of wilderness at the beginning of the twenty-first century.