As in the author’s best seller, True North: Exploring the Great Wilderness by Bush Plane, which won praise from reviewers all across the U.S. and Canada, Erickson again flies his readers into the far north on a magic carpet called the Tundra Cub II. On this journey through a remote region of North America, Erickson introduces readers to an area that is home to unique wildlife, great history and hardy people, many of whom make their living mining the north’s treasure trove of gold, uranium, oil and diamonds.
Back to the Barrens: On the Wing with da Vinci & Friends begins at the author’s lake home in northern of Minnesota. Following stops at Red Lake, Ontario, which has gold in its basement and at York Factory, Manitoba, which was once the headquarters of the Hudson Bay Company—but is still a home to polar bears—Erickson takes the reader farther north to Churchill, then up the west coast of Hudson Bay to Marble Island. There he spends a foggy night on the desolate hump of pale, white stone on which Captain James Knight and his men needlessly starved to death. Heading west, he visits the Natives of Baker Lake, reviews their traditional beliefs and then heads for the Arctic Circle. Thwarted by weather, not to mention a close encounter with a grizzly, he heads for Yellowknife, telling frontier tales along the way before moving on to Lake Athabasca and the oil-rich tar sands of Fort MacMurray. From there the journey back to its place of origin commences. The route home includes stops in Ennadai Lake and Thompson, Manitoba, and offers glimpses of unique geological features, reminiscences of visits with a well-read “hermit” and a swim with a porcupine.
While lighting the evening campfire, readers learn where the phosphorus that enlivens their match tips first came from. They study the northern lights, appraise the mythologies that tried to explain the Milky Way and learn pertinent stories from the history of aviation, science and mythology, Native beliefs and customs. Aviation buffs, adventure travel readers, environmentalists, historians and all who are attuned to wildlife and are concerned about our changing environment will love Back to the Barrens. Like its predecessor, True North, Back to the Barrens is a celebration of the North—its beauty, history and inhabitants—a celebration lived by a knowledgeable author who probes the depths of the wilderness while having the time of his life.
The book is 328 pages, has a 24-page color photo section, a bibliography and has maps throughout that illustrate the route taken.