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Kayaking Alone: Nine Hundred Miles from Idaho's Mountains to the Pacific Ocean

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The Columbia and its tributaries are rivers of conflict. Amid pitched battles over the economy, the environment, and breaching dams on the lower Snake River, the salmon that have always quickened these rivers are disappearing. On a warm day in late May, Mike Barenti entered the heart of this conflict when he slid a whitewater kayak into the headwaters of central Idaho’s Sa The Columbia and its tributaries are rivers of conflict. Amid pitched battles over the economy, the environment, and breaching dams on the lower Snake River, the salmon that have always quickened these rivers are disappearing. On a warm day in late May, Mike Barenti entered the heart of this conflict when he slid a whitewater kayak into the headwaters of central Idaho’s Salmon River and started paddling toward the Pacific Ocean. This account of his two-month, nine-hundred-mile solo journey into the world of the Columbia Basin plunges us into the adventure of navigating these troubled waterways.   Kayaking Alone is a narrative of man and nature, one-on-one, but also of man and nature writ large. In the stories of the river guides and rangers, biologists and ranchers, American Indians and dam workers he meets along the way, the rich and complicated life of the river emerges in a striking, often painfully clear panorama. Through his journey, the ecology, history, and politics of Pacific salmon unfold in fascinating detail, and with this firsthand knowledge and experience the reader gains a new and personal sense of the nature that unites and divides us.


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The Columbia and its tributaries are rivers of conflict. Amid pitched battles over the economy, the environment, and breaching dams on the lower Snake River, the salmon that have always quickened these rivers are disappearing. On a warm day in late May, Mike Barenti entered the heart of this conflict when he slid a whitewater kayak into the headwaters of central Idaho’s Sa The Columbia and its tributaries are rivers of conflict. Amid pitched battles over the economy, the environment, and breaching dams on the lower Snake River, the salmon that have always quickened these rivers are disappearing. On a warm day in late May, Mike Barenti entered the heart of this conflict when he slid a whitewater kayak into the headwaters of central Idaho’s Salmon River and started paddling toward the Pacific Ocean. This account of his two-month, nine-hundred-mile solo journey into the world of the Columbia Basin plunges us into the adventure of navigating these troubled waterways.   Kayaking Alone is a narrative of man and nature, one-on-one, but also of man and nature writ large. In the stories of the river guides and rangers, biologists and ranchers, American Indians and dam workers he meets along the way, the rich and complicated life of the river emerges in a striking, often painfully clear panorama. Through his journey, the ecology, history, and politics of Pacific salmon unfold in fascinating detail, and with this firsthand knowledge and experience the reader gains a new and personal sense of the nature that unites and divides us.

37 review for Kayaking Alone: Nine Hundred Miles from Idaho's Mountains to the Pacific Ocean

  1. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    Great book!! I really enjoyed it. I found myself trying to study it in places - rather than just reading for entertainment. There is lots of good salmon information / facts in it. Barenti has influenced me some. Before reading the book, if asked my opinion on dam breaching – I would have indubitably answered - no breaching under any circumstances. Now, Barenti, has given me reason to pause and consider the trade-offs. He makes a good point, which I had not considered about the significant salmon Great book!! I really enjoyed it. I found myself trying to study it in places - rather than just reading for entertainment. There is lots of good salmon information / facts in it. Barenti has influenced me some. Before reading the book, if asked my opinion on dam breaching – I would have indubitably answered - no breaching under any circumstances. Now, Barenti, has given me reason to pause and consider the trade-offs. He makes a good point, which I had not considered about the significant salmon potential in the Salmon and Snake Drainage area, and how breaching the four dams on the Snake may be a shot in the arm to the over-all Chinook Population. Maybe when we get some other viable energy sources, that MAY happen. But more troublesome than energy producing - is the Snake River barge trade to Lewiston. I learned a lot about salmon that I did not know.. • Salmon do not always return to their spawning grounds. • Definition of “native salmon” • Effects of Pacific Decadal Oscillation on Salmon Run forecasts • Differences in Alaska and Pacific N/W Salmon • Etc. A copy of this book was loaned to me - I am going to buy a copy of this book for future reference.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I was only able to read about 1/2 of this book before it was due back to the library, but I enjoyed what I read. As a new kayaker in his 2nd season, I enjoyed reading about Mike's approach to the sport and was especially intrigued by the fact that he DID take this trip alone. That alone would freak me out! I also appreciated the environmental questions that Barenti asks in this travelogue as he seeks insight in to what happened to America's rivers and the bountiful ecosystems they once nurtured. I was only able to read about 1/2 of this book before it was due back to the library, but I enjoyed what I read. As a new kayaker in his 2nd season, I enjoyed reading about Mike's approach to the sport and was especially intrigued by the fact that he DID take this trip alone. That alone would freak me out! I also appreciated the environmental questions that Barenti asks in this travelogue as he seeks insight in to what happened to America's rivers and the bountiful ecosystems they once nurtured.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pond

    Even though it wasn't a life-changing book, I couldn't bring myself to leave ole Mikey stranded there on the Snake River. Since I've never done expedition kayaking, his notes helped me wrap my mind around some of the challenges and concerns with such an undertaking. I do wish the ending had been a bit more impactful, but the point that there are no easy answers to the fate of the salmon was made nonetheless. Barenti is a journalist, not a poet. Even though it wasn't a life-changing book, I couldn't bring myself to leave ole Mikey stranded there on the Snake River. Since I've never done expedition kayaking, his notes helped me wrap my mind around some of the challenges and concerns with such an undertaking. I do wish the ending had been a bit more impactful, but the point that there are no easy answers to the fate of the salmon was made nonetheless. Barenti is a journalist, not a poet.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I bought this book thru Amazon and lucked out that it was an author signed first edition! Covers more of the salmon's demise and reintroduction into the rivers of the northwest than kayaking. I'm only half-way thru it though. I'm new to kayaking and bought this book for some learning and I also like adventure/travel books. I bought this book thru Amazon and lucked out that it was an author signed first edition! Covers more of the salmon's demise and reintroduction into the rivers of the northwest than kayaking. I'm only half-way thru it though. I'm new to kayaking and bought this book for some learning and I also like adventure/travel books.

  5. 4 out of 5

    joelene

    It was good. However I think the title should be different.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Danielto

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nate

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  9. 5 out of 5

    Beau

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  12. 4 out of 5

    James

  13. 4 out of 5

    Duke

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Cline

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carl

  23. 4 out of 5

    Iranica

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Skjoldal

  25. 4 out of 5

    Runwiththewind

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amber

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  29. 5 out of 5

    Boise Public Library

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  31. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  33. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  34. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

  35. 5 out of 5

    Charly

  36. 4 out of 5

    Janette

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jen

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