All her life, Katherine Keith has hungered for remote, wild places that fill her soul with freedom and peace. Her travels take her across America, but it is in the vast and rugged landscape of Alaska that she finds her true home. Alaska is known as a place where people disappear—at least a couple thousand go missing each year. But the same vast and rugged landscape that contributed to so many people being lost is precisely what has gotten her found.
She and her husband build a log cabin miles away from the nearest road and create a life of love. An idyllic existence, but with isolation and brutal living conditions can also come heartbreak. Chopping wood and hauling water are not just parts of a Zen proverb but a requirement for survival. Keith experiences tragic loss and must push on, with her infant daughter, alone in the Alaskan backcountry.
Long-distance dog sledding opens a door to a new existence. Racing across the state of Alaska offers the best of all worlds by combining raw wilderness with solitude and athleticism. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the “Last Great Race on Earth,” remains a true test of character and offers the opportunity to intimately explore the frontier that she has come to love.
With every thousand miles of winter trail traversed in total solitude, she confronts challenges that awaken internal demons, summoning all the inner grief and rage that lies dormant. In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and John Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Epic Solitude is the powerful and touching story of how one woman found her way—both despite and because of—the difficulties of living and racing in the remote wilderness.
An athlete and adventurer searches for peace and belonging in the Alaskan wilderness in this heartfelt memoir. Growing up in Minnesota, Keith dreamed of living off the grid in the Arctic and embraced a youth full of outdoor adventure. She was also abused as a child and developed bulimia, paranoia, cutting behavior, and suicidal thoughts; as an adult, she decided the only way to deal with the physical and mental pain was to embark on a "quest to Alaska to save my life." In energetic prose, she tells of her recovery as she takes up dog sledding and revels in the hardships, solitude, and challenges of life on a remote camp and racing the Iditarod. Her spirits lift in 2015 when she meets a man named Dave and marries him. Continually searching out spiritual answers and well-being, Keith combines stories of her adventures with her experiences with peyote, sun dances, Buddhism, sweat lodges, and "soul retrievals" by a shaman, lending the story a feel of deep mysticism. This intense and uplifting treatise on self-exploration celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit.
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Recommend for Alaska Wilderness fans
For me, this was one of the saddest biographies I’ve ever read. Kat Keith had so much heartbreak in her life, I can see why she needed extreme events in which to participate. My favorite parts of her story were descriptions of the beauty of Alaska wilderness, learning all
about dog mushing and the freedom their lifestyle provided. I’d never have the fortitude or stamina to live that life but I would love to! So I’m living it through these beautiful stories.