Spotlight on Alaska Books: Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith

His last day on the trail before reaching Repulse Bay was a calm and sunny Sunday. The trail passed between granite knifelike ridges. Small bands of caribou crossed in front of him. . . These were the days when the appeal of the Arctic struck a deep chord in Dick. The rewards she parceled out bordered on the mystical. Far removed from the churn of civilization, with a sparse and fierce beauty, it was a place that suffused Dick with wonder and life. There were more difficult days than easy ones by far. Yet as he traveled the final miles of this trek, he knew he would miss the Artic. Even the days of tempest.

In his journal he wrote, “I have desperately tried to absorb this hostile landscape, but instead I find that I have been absorbed.”

Solo adventure travel today is anything but solitary, with the familiar glow of technology and nearly sentient gear as common companions. But for decades one especially daring traveler has set off into the wilderness with little more than a sense of adventure. Dick Griffith is an Alaska legend who made his name with a string of fearless feats: rafting down the Green and Colorado Rivers, skiing solo across the icy Northwest Passage, and being the first nonnative to drop into the treacherous Barranca Del Cobre in Mexico.

The first full biography of Griffith, Canyons and Ice offers a rare look at the man behind the soaring achievements and occasionally death-defying moments.  A grand tale of adventure, the book is also a reflection on what motivates a man to traverse some of the most remote places on earth.

“In Canyons and Ice, Johnson recounts the adventures of Dick Griffith, who has undertaken a series of remarkable wilderness journeys across Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and the American West over the past six decades….As this gripping and inspiring book explains, Griffith is simply afflicted with an irresistible inclination to attempt what others say can’t be done. When asked what possesses a man to repeatedly strike out alone across hundreds of miles of rugged, lonely country, he replies, ‘Every so often, it’s just time to walk.'” 
– Jon Krakauer, Author – Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven.
Kaylene Johnson is a professional writer and long-time Alaskan who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. A member of 49 Writers, she has written five books about Alaska and the people who live there. Her award winning articles and essays have appeared in Alaska magazine,the Los Angeles Times, the Louisville Review, Spirit magazine, and other publications. She holds a BA from Vermont College and an MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick is published by Ember Press and is available in soft-cover and e-book format.

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