Award-winning Yellowstone photographer and documentary filmmaker Brad Orsted's seven-year search for refuge and redemption in America's greatest wilderness.
When Brad Orsted’s fifteen-month-old daughter, Marley, died mysteriously at the home of Brad’s mother, he descended into madness. Blaming himself, he plunged into an abyss of grief, guilt, and self-recrimination, fueled by prescription drugs and alcohol. He planned his suicide as his wife, Stacey, searched for a new beginning. She finally found a job in Yellowstone National Park and, with their daughters, Mazzy and Chloe, the pair fled Michigan, looking for refuge and redemption in the 2.2 million acres of glorious American wilderness.
Through the Wilderness begins in Yellowstone, five months after the family’s arrival in 2012, when, in an alcoholic haze, Brad stumbled into a field of sage and survived a face-to-face encounter with an adult male grizzly bear. For the first time in almost two years, he realized he wanted to live—he just didn’t know how.
Desperate for help, Brad invited himself to a Crow sweat lodge ceremony, where an elder told him it was time to stop grieving. The elder’s words started Brad on a journey towards sobriety and inner peace, only possible because of lessons he learned in the wild, his new job as a wildlife photographer and filmmaker, and two orphan grizzly cubs who carried him back home and taught him how to live again.
Brad's ten-year odyssey is about finding the wild inside the human heart. It is a journey of the spirit— a journey to forgiveness and sobriety, to love and life, to memory, and ultimately, to Marley.
Brad Orsted’s instinct for storytelling started early when someone gave him a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera as a child. Decades later Brad’s passion for wildlife cinematography and photography would not only earn him work with top networks like: Nat Geo Wild, The BBC, PBS, Nature, and The Smithsonian Channel, but also become part of his recovery after the tragic death of his daughter, Marley.
Brad now resides in Paradise Valley, Montana, where he is hard at work on his second book and his wilderness therapy programs also called, Through the Wilderness. Brad’s film with Jeff Bridges and Doug Peacock, “The Beast of Our Time” recently won Best Environmental Film Award at the prestigious L.A. Doc Film Festival. A second film is in the making.
Bradleyorsted.com for more details, store and upcoming events.
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"The spirit in this book is as enormous as the great land and great bears to which Orsted was directed. In converting pain—agony—into beauty, Orsted shares with us not just his great spirit, but that of the land that has taken him in and not so much re-made him as met him where he was, and where he is. A profound, troubling, soul-shattering book by a great artist, great spirit, great being. Through the Wilderness is an unshakably beautiful book." – Rick Bass, author, environmentalist
“Brad Orsted lives on the edge of Yellowstone’s wilderness and for most of a decade has walked the narrow ridge between beauty and madness. Mortally wounded by the greatest of tragedies—the loss of a child—he is slowly pulled back into the human realm by wild beasts and the draw of the wild. It is a struggle. Wolves kill an elk in his backyard and feed on it for days; Brad watches. He stumbles into an isolated valley and meets a huge grizzly bear face to face. Suddenly he is jolted into the present with all his senses buzzing. He finds a pair of orphaned grizzly cubs who show him how to live again. Brad’s story is the classic American tale of redemption. He has written bravely, with an unguarded heart, of this dangerous journey.” – Doug Peacock, author, Green Beret, grizzly bear activist
"Through the Wilderness is as awe-inspiring and wild as the grizzly country it takes place in. Brad's journey through unthinkable tragedy and out into the healing light of nature is a message of love and hope for us all." - Kesha
"Harrowing... [a] haunting and deeply affecting memoir of surviving the unthinkable." - Wall Street Journal