Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (1/19)
“In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone” by Rick Lamplugh is the author’s recollection of his time as an observer in Yellowstone Park. Rick and his wife Mary signed up as winter volunteers to have a chance to experience the park during the winter. They had visited multiple times during the summer but as volunteers Rick would have a chance to observe as a naturist, experiencing the ecosystem, the behavior of the food chain, and his passion…the wolves.
The book presents to readers a mix of the author’s observation notes enriched with his own reflections and recounts of his experiences through prose narration, as well as black and white pictures at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter reads as a standalone vignette, almost like a picture made out of words which tells of a moment in time in the life of the park. Its characters are not only of predatory wolves and coyotes but their prey, such as elk and buffalo, scavengers, and the money-making photo hunters who compete to capture each life and death event in nature.
Rick Lamplugh is a skillful writer. His storytelling in this narration is captivating and informative, two elements that will keep readers hooked page after page, even as they read the difficult and crude description of the food chain where it is the reality show of survival of the fittest. His point of view as a naturist gives a detailed description of what he is observing, while his point of view as a passionate wildlife lover gives readers his emotional view on the effects of intruding photographers in search of the best picture. His point of view of a regular person wanting to grow to an experienced outdoorsman shows readers a real view of the dangers and beauty of the wild outdoors during the winter.
My favorite scene was precisely the one where he realized once he got off the trail that he had left his important survival tools (like a map) in the car, and because of that, a small walk could have had a tragic end. I loved his voice and how he was able to transport me from my reading chair to the middle of the woods through his storytelling. Certainly a well-written account of Yellowstone Park, wolves, and the author’s experience during his visit in the winter. I do wish the pictures would have been in color and the format of the book would have been a hard cover to be displayed on our coffee table to share as a conversation piece with everyone.
Overall, “In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone” by Rick Lamplugh is a well-written captivating account of the life of wolves, extermination, and re-introduction into Yellowstone Park. Learn how their presence and absence affected the park and its food chain, and how people affect them as well, all through the author’s firsthand experience, observation and research of factual and historical information. I found it informative, thought-provoking and entertaining and recommend it to all nature lovers as a realistic trip to wild winter Yellowstone!