Angels in the Wilderness
The True Story of One Woman’s Survival Against All Odds
Solo backpacker Amy Racina fell sixty feet onto solid granite near the remote Tehipite Valley in California’s Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada during a 16-day solo hiking trip. In this gripping first-person account, Amy tells how she survived four days and nights in the wilderness with both legs badly broken and no one else around, clinging tenaciously to life, using all the spiritual tools and inner strengths she could muster. Battling pain, fear and exhaustion, she pulled herself along with her hands, and refused to give up even when her chances of salvation were remote.
The book chronicles her miraculous and timely rescue and describes her dramatic airlift out of the canyon, swinging helplessly from two straps, dangling fearfully beneath a helicopter high above the ravine where she had lain.
Racina recounts her struggles with multiple surgeries and extensive physical rehabilitation, as she fought to walk again despite her severe injuries. In flashbacks, Amy also tells of her rugged introduction to wilderness backpacking, her “trip of a lifetime” up to the day of her fall, and her dual passions for solo hiking and traveling light. She also describes the deeper reflections that shaped her life after the fall, and concludes with her triumphant return to the wilderness.
This amazing tale of despair, courage and hope speaks of incredible strength and heartbreaking weakness as Amy details what she believed might be the last days of her life. It is a memory of the darkest of times and an affirmation of miracles. Her story is a celebration of a life almost snatched away, of survival against the odds.
Now in paperback in its Second Edition!
This compelling true story of a life-threatening backpacking incident in 2003 is finally available in paperback. It includes an update on events since the book's 2005 publication. We believe every serious backpacker and hiker should read this riveting and important story of survival.
“A profound true story of human courage and the will to live.”
-Midwest Book Review
2009, 224 pages, 6" x 9", full-color cover, 25 photographs, 2 maps, 2 page update from June 2009.
Published by Elite Books.
ISBN 978-1-60070-066-8 trade paperback
2005. 220 pages, 6-1/8" x 9-1/4", full-color dust jacket, 25 photographs, 2 maps.
Published by Elite Books. ISBN 0-9710888-9-6 hardcover
“Every day is a good day for Amy Racina. It wasn't always that way, but crashing 60 feet into a granite ravine changed her perspective.”
- San Francisco Chronicle
“Her story is by any measure a triumph of will.”
- Santa Rosa Press Democrat
“As a story of human courage and persistence, it is unparalleled. As a parable that challenges us to find the best within ourselves, it is remarkable. As an honest and beautifully written story, it is searing. And as a reminder that in the most desperate of circumstances, grace, humor, wisdom and the gentle touch of God’s spirit are available, it is profound.”
- Dawson Church, Publisher
“A profound true story of human courage and the will to live: especially fresh and absorbing.”
- Midwest Book Review
“Chock full of penetrating truth.”
- Aron Ralston, author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place
“This book is suffused with glowing honesty and wonder, bracing as mountain air.”
- Fearless Reviews
“This is the best book I have read in a very long time. Amy Racina is an exceptionally fine writer and story-teller.”
- Susan Campbell, author of Getting Real
“You will laugh, you will cry, but from the first page, this book will hold you, and not let you go. Searing and intense, this is an honest and beautifully written story.”
- Dawson Church, author of Soul Medicine
Here’s two brief excerpts:
The land itself is my friend. Nature speaks to me in a way that humankind cannot. As I walk, the simplicity of the trailside ways comforts me. The crisp clarity of the mountain air heals me; the high sweet light glistening on white slabs of granite lends me its radiance and restores to me the light of my own essence.
My spirit exults, bringing my body and soul into perfect focus. My heart expands. I am like my sleeping bag, stuffed too long in a sack, and let out at last. Up above timberline, single pine trees quiver in the relentless brightness, tall and strong, as I feel myself to be. The wilderness touches the pure high note that sings forth the harmony of my own spirit.
- from Chapter 15: “The Lure of the Solo Experience”
“We’ve rescued a lot of people,” says Debbie... the foremost rescue ranger in the National Park Service. “But rarely anyone as badly injured as Amy, and never anyone as happy.” Of course I am happy. I am going to live. I had not expected it to be so.
- from Chapter 21: “ Rescue ”
The Table of Contents:
- The Fall
- For Love of the Mountains
- On the Trail of the Ancestors
- The Trip of a Lifetime
- Before the Fall
- The Day of the Fall
- In the Ravine
- A Dozen Ways to Die
- Talking to God
- The Go-Lite Girl
- The First Day
- Longing for Life
- The Second Day
- The Lure of the Solo Experience
- The Third Day
- Two Toots of a Whistle
- The Three Rescuers
- The Fourth Day
- Dangling by a Thread
- Repairing Amy
- An Unknown Wilderness
- Helping Amy
- The Purple Ambulance
- At Carla’s
- Many Firsts
- Many Heroes
- Like a Junkyard Dog
- The Questions
- After the Fall
- Gifts and Revelations
- Spritual Tools for Physical Survival
- Back to the Mountains
Books and Maps on Related Topics:
Notebooks From the Emerald Triangle by A Novel by Bill Bradd
Chugach State Park/Chugach Mountains, Alaska Topographic Recreation Map by Imus Geographics
Mount Whitney; Mountain Lore from the Whitney Store, 2nd Edition by Doug Thompson & Elisabeth Newbold
The Donner Party: Weathering the Storm by Mark McLaughlin
The Other Side; On the Road in South America by Tom Reed
Yosemite Epics; Tales of Adventure from America's Greatest Playground by Matt Johanson
Illustrations by Christopher Hampson
Foreword by Jim Moynier
The Hotel on the Roof of the World: From Miss Tibet to Shangri La by Alec LeSueur
Solu-Khumbu: The Trek to Everest—A Photographic Journal by Tim Hauf
Exploring Eastern Sierra Canyons: Bishop to Lone Pine by Sharon Giacomazzi
Exploring Eastern Sierra Canyons: Sonora Pass to Pine Creek by Sharon Giacomazzi
Sierra Nevada Topographic Map by Imus Geographics
Gold Fever, Part Three: The Path to Civil War by Ken Salter
Eastern Sierra Hot Springs by George J. Williams III
Mammoth Area Rock Climbs, 4th Edition; The Climbing Guide to the Eastern Sierra ó North by Marty Lewis
Foreword by Errett Allen
Sierra Stories; Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues by Gary Noy
Monterey Bay Map by Bluewater Maps
The Essential Geography of the United States of America by Imus Geographics
The Hiker's hip pocket Guide to Sonoma County, 3rd edition by Bob Lorentzen
The Hikerís hip pocket Guide to the Humboldt/Del Norte Coast, 3rd Ed. by Bob Lorentzen
Field Guide to Manzanitas: California, North America, and Mexico by Michael Kauffmann, Tom Parker and Michael Vasey; Photographs by Jeff Bisbee