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Discovering Eden: A Lifetime of Paddling the Arctic Rivers    by Alex M. Hall order for
Discovering Eden
by Alex M. Hall
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Discovering Eden is essentially a series of essays about the author's experiences in 'A Lifetime of Paddling the Arctic Rivers'. He speaks of his childhood love of wild animals, his graduate research on wolves, and his first exposure to the Arctic on Baffin Island, which changed his life's direction. Hall eventually decided to run guided canoe trips in the Barren Lands of the Canadian Arctic - 'the most beautiful and exciting place left on this earth' - and has been doing that ever since.

In these vignettes, Hall speaks passionately of the beauty of the wilderness and its wildlife, of solo excursions and guided trips, of paddling techniques and equipment, and of memorable close shaves over the years. He describes many colorful characters, including his clients, bush pilots, and fur trappers. He discusses Indian and Inuit archaeological sites, and recounts the legend of John Hornby, who starved to death in the region in 1927, despite plentiful game. And he shares engaging anecdotes of meetings with families of wolves over the years, of bear sightings (and sometimes chases), and of the awe felt while watching vast caribou migrations. There's also advice on how to cope with blackflies - 'the Barren Lands may have the densest population of blackflies on earth.'

The spectacular color photos included in the book make one want to book a canoe expedition immediately. The author speaks of the risks to the region from mining and mineral exploration, and advocates for conservation efforts to maintain at least a part of 'the largest wilderness left on this continent.' Read Discovering Eden and you'll understand why he feels so strongly.

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