Lost on Purpose: The Adventures of a 21st Century Mountain Man
© 2015 Patrick Taylor
The real adventure for me was letting go of everything I had defined as important and conducting another experiment with my life.
Lost on Purpose is the account of one man, Patrick Taylor’s, attempt to follow the trail of Lewis and Clark over the Rockies. He chose to do this during the same season as the Corps of Discovery, despite knowing this meant he would be climbing as winter’s first snowstorms moved in. The scope of this ambition impressed, appalled, and bewildered the Idahoans Taylor met — though they were mostly impressed. The account is highly and constantly detailed, Taylor sharing with readers how he whittles little stacks to pen a fish in place so that he can grill it properly, or describing the various layers he was wearing. There are some readers who are drawn to that kind of detail, of course, but if you’re looking more for Ed-Abbey style descriptions of the landscape, be warned there’s more mention of not just the trees than the forest, but the pine needles and the bark. Taylor also incorporates excerpts from Lewis and Clark’s journals, which indicate that much of this unforgiving landscape is as it was two centuries ago. The sheer ambition of Taylor, makes the details slog worthwhile, as he describes making his way up the mountains, losing the trail as a blizzard moves in, and — undoubtedly the book’s highlight — relives with the reader his few days spent with a trapper, a kindred spirit who lived by himself most of the time and spent his nights skinning pine martens. After two months of wilderness trekking, Taylor uses his emergency comms to have himself picked up, but his feat suitably impressed a local enough that Taylor was hired on to take care of a remote property during the winter months. (One hopes it wasn’t The Overlook hotel.)