Barefoot in Hells Canyon

Reflections from two men in a frail raft on a voyage down the Snake River in 1958

Non-Fiction - Adventure
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 11/09/2022
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Author Biography

Bryan Gould, born and schooled in San Francisco, began as a copyboy, at the San Francisco News, where he wrote sports and feature stories, (he is the last surviving member of that editorial staff). Then worked as a youth counselor for San Francisco and Marin counties, In 1978, as a trombone player and vocalist, he formed Swing Fever, a swing era jazz band, which has played, recorded, and toured for forty-plus years. His first book, Barefoot In Hells Canyon found an enthusiastic publisher at Backeddy Books. He lives with his wife and fruit trees in San Rafael, California. He still can’t swim.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Barefoot in Hells Canyon by Bryan Gould recounts the story of two adventurous nineteen-year-olds who embarked on an audacious quest, planning to travel along the Snake River on a frail raft in 1958. Bryan and Glen were just a year out of high school when they set out from home in Oakland, California, for a cross-country trip for the ages. During the initial part of their journey, the two friends rode on the boxcars of freight trains alongside hobos, sought shelter in farms owned by Mormons, and eventually found their way to one Blaine Stubblefield, who prepared them for the last leg of their journey. Known for its notorious rapids, Hells Canyon lived up to its name for the two friends as they faced starvation, snake bites, and thunderstorms while barefoot. Sixty years later, they look back and evaluate their friendship.

Filled with nostalgia and camaraderie, Barefoot in Hells Canyon is a true coming-of-age story of survival and friendship. Bryan Gould shares an adventure of a lifetime that changed the course of two young men's life trajectories. The personal experience of the story and Gould's intimate writing style make the narrative very engaging and easy to read. There are some vibrant characters that Bryan and Glen met during their travels, which makes their story all the more immersive to the reader. As the decades passed, Bryan and Glen slowly grew apart, but they always remembered the grand adventure of their youth that shaped them as men. A thoroughly riveting read that I highly recommend.