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The sun is a compass : a 4,000-mile journey into the Alaskan wilds  Cover Image Book Book

The sun is a compass : a 4,000-mile journey into the Alaskan wilds


Documents the biologist adventurer's treks in the vast wilderness region spanning the Pacific rainforest through the Alaskan Arctic, where she and her husband tested their physical boundaries while making profound natural-world connections.
For fans of Cheryl Strayed, the gripping story of a biologist's human-powered journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic to rediscover her love of birds, nature, and adventure. During graduate school, as she conducted experiments on the peculiarly misshapen beaks of chickadees, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert began to feel stifled in the isolated, sterile environment of the lab. Worried that she was losing her passion for the scientific research she once loved, she was compelled to experience wildness again, to be guided by the sounds of birds and to follow the trails of animals. In March of 2012 she and her husband set off on a 4,000-mile wilderness journey from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic, traveling by rowboat, ski, foot, raft, and canoe. Together, they survived harrowing dangers while also experiencing incredible moments of joy and grace -- migrating birds silhouetted against the moon, the steamy breath of caribou, and the bond that comes from sharing such experiences. A unique blend of science, adventure, and personal narrative, the book explores the bounds of the physical body and the tenuousness of life in the company of creatures whose daily survival is nothing short of miraculous. It is a journey through the heart, the mind, and some of the wildest places left in North America. In the end, The Sun Is a Compass is a love letter to nature, an inspiring story of endurance, and a beautifully written testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780316414425
  • ISBN: 0316414425
  • Physical Description: vii, 308 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, map ; 22 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Little, Brown Spark, 2019.

Content descriptions

General Note:
Includes index.
Formatted Contents Note:
Prologue: Swimming the Chandalar -- Part one: Zugunruhe -- Part two: Inside passage -- Part three: Yukon -- Part four: Arctic coast -- Part five: Brooks Range -- Epilogue: Three on the lost coast.
Language Note:
Text in English.
Subject: n-us-ak
Van Hemert, Caroline Travel Alaska
Wilderness areas Alaska
Alaska Description and travel
Ornithologists United States Biography
Birds Alaska
Natural history Alaska
NATURE / Ecosystems & Habitats / Polar Regions
TRAVEL / Polar Regions
Natural history
Wilderness areas
United States
Genre: Autobiography.
Travel writing.
Travel writing.

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library System. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Public Library.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Homer Public Library AK 979.805 VAN (Text) 000151352 Alaskana -- Nonfiction Available -

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