In ‘The Carry Home,’ an author’s journey to spread his wife’s ashes in the Rockies

January 6, 2015
Photo: Gary and Jane 2(Photo: Courtesy Doug Smith)
Gary and Jane Ferguson at the Arctic Circle, Hood River.

For 25 years, Gary Ferguson and his wife, Jane, roamed the Rockies, working as naturalists. He was a writer, she a teacher. They spent their days hiking and camping, exploring and sharing the lessons of the wilderness.

But in 2005, a canoe trip on a dangerous stretch of the Kopka River in the Canadian Rockies became deadly. Jane drowned and Ferguson, who has 22 books about science and nature to his credit, turned to what he knows to recover from his heartbreak.

Ferguson wrote “The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness,” chronicling his journey to spread Jane’s ashes in her five favorite wild places, all in the Rocky Mountains.

The journey took several years as Ferguson ventured through the wild lands of Idaho into Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, he found comfort not only in old friends, but also in a community of wild animals -- from loons to the bobcat that made a solitary appearance at one of the Fergusons’ favorite cabins in the Absaroka Mountains.

Photo: Gary and Jane 1(Photo: Courtesy Doug Smith)
Gary and Jane Ferguson on the Hood River.

The author learned lessons about grieving as he made his way from one wild haunt to another, finally coming to terms with the notion that “the grief journey unfolds at its own pace."

“One must be of one’s hour," he says.

Read an excerpt from the book below.