Stories to make you wince, reflect, and applaud
Author is a young, emerging voice and long overdue for more attention
Bree Loewen’s first book, Pickets and Dead Men, was her account of the three seasons she spent as a climbing ranger on Mount Rainier, in Washington, beginning at the tender age of 21. Through her utterly honest and often gripping stories, she revealed her struggle to gain the respect of her male coworkers, her constant internal self-doubt, and a continual pondering of that never-ending question: Why am I here?
Now in her mid-thirties, Loewen has become a wife, a mother, and a leader of Seattle Mountain Rescue (SMR), a volunteer-based search-and-rescue operation. She no longer struggles with the respect of co-workers (she has it in spades) nor crippling self-doubt (overcome after hundreds of rescues). But she does still ponder the question of why she continues to head into the backcountry, confronting danger, risk, and, often, death. SMR is involved in everything from high profile accidents to rescues that never even make the local news. And since the climbing and outdoor community in Seattle is so close knit, Loewen often finds herself involved in efforts to rescue friends and acquaintances.
A distinct and fearless voice—quiet and thoughtful, yet laced with dark humor; utterly honest and disarming; clear and graceful—Loewen conveys the intensity of rescue and recovery situations as well as the beauty of wilderness landscapes in accessible, real, and convincing language. Found reveals a woman’s effort to help, nurture, and protect her daughter, her community, and her way of life.
Being a climbing ranger on Mount Rainier proved to be a life-altering experience for Bree Loewen. As one of only a handful of women on staff, Bree fought to prove herself among men in the field, while confronting the often unrealistic expectations of the public on a mountain that shows little mercy. With honesty, self-deprecation, and wry humor, she reflects on her experiences on Rainier: assisting injured climbers, rescuing lost children, battling inscrutable bureaucracy, lugging heavy equipment, and trying to make sense of it all. Whether it’s her account of a solo climb in dicey conditions or trying to protect her good jacket while cleaning the outhouses at Camp Muir, Loewen’s writing is engagingly human and humane.