Reading the North

Trails: Living in the Alaska Wilderness

By Warren Troy (Publication Consultants, $17.95)

The blurb: Can a middle-aged urban dwelling man survive on his own in the Alaska wilderness? Denny Caraway is going to find out. Casting off a city life that has become unsatisfying, he journeys north to homestead in the Alaska Bush.

Excerpt: "I was finally living in George's old cabin, well stocked with provisions and gear. Now I could set to work building my new cabin. Living remote and alone in the forest was going to be unlike anything I had ever done, but I had been correct in believing that this life was the one for me. It just felt completely right

"I had quickly learned while running supplies, that transporting anything into the bush, large or small, is a major event and not to be taken lightly. There is a finite amount of materials that can be carried at one time by wheeler or snow machine and sled. So, the advice I had been given about making my own lumber with the chain saw mill instead of hauling in boards from town made sense."

The Hunts

By Harry B. Dodge III (AuthorHouse)

The blurb: Four men embark on a bear hunt on Kodiak Island's remote south end. Old Ivory, an elusive and colossal bear, is their ultimate goal. Kodiak's rugged terrain, harsh weather and the canniness of the animal they pursue test their stamina and resolve and ultimately compel them to examine their individual values.

Excerpt: "The Helga Bay cannery, a huddle of buildings tucked in Cannery Cove, had endured winter's siege just as it had the many years past. The dogged slough-slap of waves echoed among the pilings under the fertilizer plant, and the old warehouses replied with creaks and murmurs of resignation. Situated at the south end of the massive island, the furthest point from the town of Kodiak, Helga Bay was now but a remote outpost of civilization. Roy and Andy had been watchmen there for more than forty years, ever since the cannery had closed down during the Great Depression. Over the intervening decades, routine had become ritual, and the outside world remained something invisible, existing far over the horizon. Though Roy and Andy participated vicariously in the events of the world through the hunters that came and went and through Roy's endless correspondence, it remained an alien world, deemed unworthy of great concern. The passage of time was marked only by the slow deterioration of the buildings and the inevitable aging of the two old-timers.

" 'Where had the time gone?' Roy would ask. 'It's just lucky we don't know what's ahead of us, guys. No kiddin'.' "

-- Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News