The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds

Front Cover
Little, Brown, Mar 19, 2019 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
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 Sun is a Compass explores the bounds of the physical body and the tenuousness of life in the company of the creatures who make their homes in the wildest places left in North America. Inspiring and beautifully written, this love letter to nature is a lyrical testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Winner of the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition: Adventure Travel

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
3
4 stars
2
3 stars
2
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - GennaC - LibraryThing

“We all need to know that, somewhere, it’s still possible to lose ourselves in the wilderness.” Invigorating, emboldening, and beautifully written. The Sun is a Compass presents a perfect blend of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - breic - LibraryThing

This is a great nature travel adventure story. The author and her husband go from Vancouver Sound, up to and along the Yukon all the way to the Arctic Ocean, then along the coast and eventually down ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2019)

Caroline Van Hemert is a biologist and adventurer whose journeys have taken her from the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean to the swamps of the Okavango Delta. She currently works at the US Geological Survey Alaska Science Center and regularly publishes articles in scientific journals about birds and other wildlife in the north. Her research and expeditions have been featured by the New York Times, MSNBC, National Geographic, and more. She lives in Alaska with her husband and two young sons.

Bibliographic information