Author James Campbell will visit the Friday Memorial Library at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13 to discuss his new book, "Braving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild." Signed copies of his book will be available for purchase.
"Braving It" chronicles the three transformative trips that Campbell and his daughter Aidan made to Alaska. It is an ode to America's disappearing wilderness and a profound meditation on the role of nature in a child's development.
At first Campbell hovered over Aidan as she fished for Arctic grayling in grizzly country, limbed and peeled logs with an axe and drawknife, and tried to impress Heimo. The going was slow. But after several weeks, Campbell started noticing a change in Aidan — she was becoming more self-sufficient, confident, and capable, so much so that they returned a few months later to help Heimo secure food for the winter. With windchills dipping to 50 degrees below zero, Aidan and Edna ventured out each day to hunt, giving Aidan a hands-on lesson in skinning, butchering, and handling a gun — even sticking her hands inside the warm carcass of a caribou to thaw out her frozen fingers. While she missed the comforts of home and the feeling of being connected to friends and family, she began to see that disconnecting from technology and truly immersing herself in nature inspired her in a way she never could have imagined.
The following spring, Campbell decided to make one last trip to Alaska with Aidan. In Eskimo culture, men do not distinguish between sons and daughters; they believe that girls deserve a rite of passage as well, and they often take their daughters on hunting trips before they leave their villages. This was to be Campbell's parting gift to Aidan, their last journey together before she left home for college. So they backpacked over Alaska's northernmost mountains, the Brooks Range, to the headwaters of the mighty Hulahula River, and paddled their folding canoe 110 miles to the Arctic Ocean. The journey took them through one of the planet's most remote places, a land of wolves, Dall sheep, golden eagles, and bears. It was a thrilling, arduous, and dangerous trip, one that tested them — and their relationship — as never before.
Campbell is the author of The Final Frontiersman, The Ghost Mountain Boys, and Braving It. He has written for Outside magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal, Audubon, and many other publications. For more information on Campbell, visit jamesmcampbell.com.