People who live in the North speak of leaving as “going outside.” I recently returned to the North after a lengthy absence and found myself reading two books about the effects of the “outside,” and about the things that brought me here in the first place: myth, romance, brutality and beauty. Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd (McClelland & Stewart) is Karsten Heuer’s account of a five-month journey made on foot with his wife, Leanne Allison, as they followed the Porcupine caribou herd from Yukon to the herd’s calving grounds on the coastal plain of Alaska. The North is a magnet for wacky adventurers like Heuer, who made his mark some years ago when he trekked from Yellowstone National Park to Yukon. Back then he seemed like just another cuckoo adventurer following a trail through the wilderness, but in Being Caribou, Heuer and Allison do not come across as eccentric masochists. Heuer’s vulnerability and honesty are striking, and he balances his account with his wife’s as they struggle with snowstorms, personal frustration, physical limitations and other people’s ambivalence toward their efforts to preserve the caribou calving grounds in Alaska. Heuer’s honest narrative style endeared him to me, and it kept me turning the pages.