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Listening for Coyote

A Walk Across Oregon's Wilderness

William L. Sullivan

6 × 9 inches. Illus. Appendix of food and gear lists. 256 pages.

2000. ISBN 978-0-87071-526-6. Paperback, $18.95.

The spirit of the wilderness is an elusive quarry. William Sullivan's quest for it took him on a 1,361-mile solo backpacking trek across his native Oregon. His remarkable route traversed 4 mountain ranges and 18 designated Wilderness Areas. It led through fogbound rain forests, windswept glacial cirques, and sunbaked desert canyons — from Oregon's western shore at Cape Blanco to the state's easternmost point at the bottom of Hells Canyon.

Listening for Coyote is Sullivan's classic account of his 2–month journey. Along the way he encountered blizzards, poisonous mushrooms, and marauding bears, but Sullivan's book is more than just an outdoor adventure story. He spices his journal with the observations of a talented naturalist, notes on history and geology, demonstrations of survival skills, and encounters with some unforgettable people.

These last include a political scientist who leaves his classrooms to protect Bald Mountain from the Forest Service, a braided and ear ringed forest ranger who takes up chewing tobacco as a political move, a camouflaged elk hunter who uses only a bow and hopes to be reincarnated as a stag elk, and an ancient widow who farms alone from a remote and rickety miner's cabin.

What all of these people share, and what the whole book illustrates, is a deep connection to the wilderness itself, that place we must preserve where humans still do not control things. Written in a soft-spoken but powerful style, Sullivan's book illustrates with living examples just why we are right to work to save such places.

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