The Last Season tells the true story of the life and disappearance of Randy Morgenson who, over the course of twenty-eight summers spent in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, became arguably the most celebrated ranger in the National Park Service’s most adventurous unit. For the solitary, introspective Morgenson, the job was a calling, and he became fiercely devoted to protecting the wilderness he loved from visitors—and those visitors from the wilderness. But the intense isolation and a series of personal setbacks took their toll, and when Morgenson vanished without a trace in 1996, many suspected suicide or foul play.

The Last Season is an intriguing adventure narrative, complex psychological portrait, and compelling mystery. Was Morgenson murdered by one of the two disgruntled park visitors he had felt threatened by just the summer before his disappearance? Did the guilt he suffered after being unfaithful to his wife and his growing despair with the state of the Park Service drive him to take his own life? Had he simply met with some unfortunate accident and been unable to call for help because of the parks’ substandard radio system—a problem he had complained about numerous times in the past and documented in his yearly reports? Or could Morgenson’s isolation and increasing despondency have prompted him to walk out of the wilderness and begin a new life? He had, after all, hinted about doing just that.

Eric Blehm spent eight years piecing together the portrait of Morgenson from journals, letters, photos, and interviews with his wife, friends, and colleagues. He hiked the same trails Morgenson hiked, scoured park archives and peak registers, and read the same books Morgenson had read in the months leading up to his disappearance. (The last book Morgenson had been reading held the chilling line “… I shall go on some last wilderness trip, to a place I have known and loved. I shall not return.”)

The Last Season won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for best nonfiction book of 2006 by a new author, as well as the National Outdoor Book Award (NOBA). It was a finalist for the Banff Mountain Book Festival in the category of mountain literature, and was named by Outside magazine in 2010 as one of the top ten “greatest adventure biographies ever written.”

Reviews and Endorsements

“This is a first-rate detective story, but it is an even better love story—an account of the love for wild places that animates some of us, leads us ever deeper in and higher up.”

– Bill McKibben, author The End of Nature and Wandering Home

“Like Jon Krakauer’s ‘Into the Wild’ and Werner Herzog’s ‘Grizzly Man,’ THE LAST SEASON is filled with suspenseful storytelling that synthesizes years of exceptional research. Beyond documenting an intriguing search-and-rescue incident, this is the legendary tale of Randy Morgenson, an unsung witness of wilderness devotion, a true conscience and disciple of the backcountry, whose last wish may well have been to pay off a debt to the mountains and meadows he protected.”

– Aron Ralston, author Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“At the heart of THE LAST SEASON is an inquiry you needn’t have left pavement and hot showers to appreciate. It delves into the character of a man, the story of a marriage, the compromises that make our lives work, and the outcomes of one man’s refusal to make them. I couldn’t put it down.”

– Jordan Fisher Smith, author Nature Noir: A Park Ranger’s Patrol in the Sierra

“An intriguing, bittersweet wilderness detective story.”

– Greg Child, author Over the Edge: The True Story of Four American Climbers’ Kidnap and Escape in the Mountains of Central Asia

“This is a hell of a story, a tale of lost souls and human frailty and very real sadness, but it’s also a one-of-a-kind look into a truly rarefied American subculture, the specialized world of elite backcountry rangers—their ethics, their techniques, even the motivations that keep them deep in the woods, as the years turn into decades and life flows on by. I have a feeling Eric Blehm’s THE LAST SEASON is going to be around for a long time, earning a place in every home library devoted to the California wilderness experience.”

– Daniel Duane, author Caught Inside and Looking For Mo

“Impeccably researched and compassionately told, THE LAST SEASON is a compelling story of one man’s passion and pain.”

– Jennifer Jordan, author Savage Summit

“THE LAST SEASON is an exciting yet tragic saga that follows the mysterious disappearance of wilderness ranger Randy Morgenson. This true story is a must read for any serious Sierraphile.”

– Gene Rose, Sierra author, historian and lecturer

“Very artfully written, THE LAST SEASON allows the reader a highly-intimate—almost-voyeuristic—insight into the life and mysterious disappearance of this enigmatic and, some would say, larger-than-life Backcountry Park Ranger. I highly recommend it.”

– Butch Farabee, author Death, Daring, and Disaster: Search and Rescue in the National Parks

“A mesmerizing tale of one man’s struggle for fidelity—to the woman with whom he enjoined his life, and to the wild world of which he was steward. How many of us have felt in our bones that pull between worlds and the passions they inspire; Blehm sinks our teeth right into the marrow of that conflict.”

– Amy Irvine McHarg, wilderness activist and author

“Eric Blehm’s THE LAST SEASON is a terrific mystery and a heartbreaking story of one man’s love of wilderness. It will keep you reading into the night, and remain with you long after you have finished.”

– Nora Gallagher, author Practicing Resurrection

“The story of a wild man of profound vision and sustaining conscience. Blehm has superbly captured that soul and given it voice; it is one we all should listen to carefully.”

– Page Stegner, author Outpost of Eden: A Curmudgeon at Large in the American West

“A beautifully crafted work that would be a compelling read simply on the basis of a remarkable true story. However, Blehm goes far beyond merely recounting dramatic events and through meticulous research and sensitivity succeeds in getting into the hearts, minds and very souls of his characters. Interest in the out-of-doors isn’t required to enjoy THE LAST SEASON, but this book also provides an insightful look into the lives of backcountry rangers—a dedicated and largely unknown group of defenders and lovers of the American wilderness.”

– Jim Burnett, author Hey Ranger! True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from America’s National Parks

“The Last Season has the feel of a big-league writer coming into full voice. And Morgenson proves to be a worthy subject. A passionate wilderness defender he had logged twenty-eight seasons at Kings Canyon and was a search-and-rescue sage. ‘Randy knew the country better than the map did,’ one ranger told Blehm. Which only deepened the mystery: If Morgenson didn’t want to be found, his colleagues would never be able to track him down. Five years after official search operations ended, a trail of clues turned up in a remote area of the park. Yet Morgenson’s disappearance, Blehm writes, ‘will always be open to speculation.'”

Outside Magazine

“The search [for Morgenson] drives the engrossing narrative forward at the speed of a bestselling thriller.”

Audubon (Editor’s Choice)

“Blehm, a snowboarder and journalist, deftly interweaves the story of Morgenson’s lifelong devotion to wilderness with a riveting account of the hunt for him.”

National Geographic Adventure

“Part detective story, part sensitive biography, and part Park Service procedural, Blehm’s book proves the mystery of Morgenson’s disappearance….Author Blehm blends his love of the mountains (he was a competitive snowboarder and winter sports writer for years) with serious journalism skills to product a deeply layered, meticulously researched, greatly entertaining read.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Some considered Morgenson the Park Service’s best backcountry ranger, and when he went missing while on patrol in the summer of 1996, his friends were at first astonished, then suspicious….Blehm ably evokes the world of seasonal backcountry rangers, whom the Park Service slights even as they put in long days protecting the land they manage and coming to the aid of backpackers in trouble.”

Washington Post book World

“Not only a compelling portrait of this remarkable man [Morgenson], but a whole mountain range to match him, seen through the eyes of men and women who are alive to its every magical nuance. Deftly weaving the critical elements…Blehm tells a riveting story that combines the virtues of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild with Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire…[An] absorbing account of a remarkable man and the wild country he knew and loved.”

Contra Costa Times

“Blehm skillfully weaves the ranger’s past with the rescue effort, providing meticulous details that could only come from an author who clearly respected his subject.”

- Associated Press

[A] compelling picture…of the pristine backcountry and the lonely, bittersweet lives of those charged with protecting it…Well reported, and like the country in which it is set, it glows in serene places.”

Chicago Tribune

“Beautifully written….Blehm blends descriptions of the spectacular setting of the Sierra Nevadas with stories of Morgenson’s coworkers, friends and wife to tell the story of a man’s life, his work as a ranger, and his deep love for the outdoors.”

E/The Environmental Magazine

“A must-read…Eric Blehm has written an important book. He has succeeded in informing readers about wilderness, backcounty rangers, and important National Park Service issues–all through the lens of Randy Morgenson’s life and [his mysterious disappearance].”


“When Morgenson disappeared, some speculated he had committed suicide or fled the country. Still, his fellow rangers…valiantly searched for his body. The thoughts of those involved in the search for Morgenson are perhaps the best part of the book, but it is the life of the main character that makes the story so compelling.”

Salt Lake City Tribune

“Thoroughly researched….Like any good mystery, even one whose ending is known to many, Blehm keeps the pages turning.”

Fresno Bee

“A taut and compelling narrative, Eric Blehm channels Morgenson and his pure love for nature.”

Charleston Post & Courier

“A must-read for all wilderness lovers….Fantastic….If you enjoyed Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild or Into Thin Air, you will want to latch on to The Last Season. Because like these other real-life mysteries, it will latch on to you.”

Dayton Daily News

“Guaranteed to send a chill up and down your spine….A must-read for people who love wilderness….Blehm provides a riveting account of the National Park Service’s extensive search-and-rescue effort.”

Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)

“An ode to Morgenson’s beloved Sierras.”

Wichita Eagle

“A cautionary tale….The story of a complicated man, one who lived many summers alone, one who lived in his own world much of the time but who was devoted to protecting the wilderness.”

The Olympian (Olympia, Washington)

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