Gary Edinger’s new book—Will to Live: A Saga of Survival —chronicles his extraordinary experiences in the wild and stands as a testament to the strength and fortitude of people facing life-threatening challenges everywhere.
Gary Edinger was logging in Wisconsin’s Northwoods when a tree he was cutting changed directions as it came crashing down. It struck his leg, severing it just below the knee. He was alone, 18miles from the nearest town, 300 yards from his pick-up truck, and bleeding profusely. The temperature was 15 degrees below zero.
Despite his shock and the mounting pain, he knew he had to stop the bleeding. He tried using his belt as a tourniquet, but it broke, twice. He knew he would not make it out of the woods alive. But through sheer force of will, he decided to see how far he could get. Against incredible odds, he made it to safety, and he survived.
Edinger attributed his survival to the determination, tenacity and grit he developed growing up in rural Wisconsin in the 1950’s.
“Self-reliance,” he said, “was a necessity that helped me overcome many obstacles and challenges in my life. I also drew strength from my family and friends who offered help when I needed it.”
He was one of eight children living in a humble farmhouse with no running water, a leaky roof, no insulation, and a wood-burning stove. His family lived off the land, hunting, trapping and fishing.
By the time he was 8 he was able to hunt alone, finding his way through the woods almost instinctively. He became confident that he could survive any crisis as long as he kept his head. That included near drownings, an encounter with a mountain lion, and being stuck in a blizzard while hiking and elk hunting in the Montana mountains with his petite but hardy wife.
If there was something he really wanted to do, Edinger found a way and a will to do it. He became a competitive sled dog racer. He spent several summers alone on Alaska’s Yukon River catching salmon with a huge fish wheel he assembled by himself. He helped initiate environmental programs that today protect rivers and forests in northern Wisconsin.
Since losing the lower half of his left leg in the tragic logging accident, he has set out to prove just as he’s done all of his life, that he can still do whatever he sets his mind on doing. Less than a year after getting a prosthetic leg, he was back to logging, hunting, and hiking up mountains.
Throughout his colorful life story, he reflects on the universal appeal of nature and all its beauty—the fresh air, the fragrance of pine trees, spectacular mountain vistas, the serenity of rivers and lakes, the splendor of the Northern Lights, sunsets and sunrises, the peaceful solitude.
His life stands as a model to others, demonstrating that there is much more to life than material things, and in order to find true happiness, you have to pursue your dreams.
About the Author:
Gary Edinger was born in 1951 and raised on a small dairy farm near Kennan, Wisconsin. He has been a log truck driver, a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska, and a licensed hunting guide in Montana. He started his own logging business in 1986. He raced sled dogs for 19 years. He won the International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA) Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals and the 1987 Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby. Sled dog racing with his wife, Leanne, they have won 126 trophies and medals in six states and five Canadian provinces.
Gary has been a member of the board of directors of the International Sled Dog Racing Association, was president of the board of directors of the Price County Waterways for eight years, served on the Price County Comprehensive Planning Committee, and was a founding member of the Friends of Jump River.
He lives in Kennan, WI, with his wife and two children. Visit www.garyedinger.com for more information.