Alone Against the North - An Expedition into the Unknown by Adam Shoalts

Book Reviews

Before reading Adam’s book, I was under the mistaken impression that the only places left on earth that haven’t been photographed, mapped, written about and otherwise traversed, were the ocean depths.

In today’s world of instant information, sophisticated satellite technology and mapping techniques it’s nice to know that we have missed a few spots, and there are still places above sea level that we have yet to explore.

Adam Shoalts is not likely on most people’s radar, but this native of Fenwick ON, Canada has recently been included on Canadian Geographic’s list of the 100 greatest modern explorers, and has been referred to by some as Canada’s Indiana Jones.

Not surprisingly he has a very impressive resume, which includes having made the first exploration in recorded history of four different rivers, and being elected a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) in 2013 for “extraordinary contributions to geography.” 

This book focuses primarily on his exploration and mapping of a previously unnamed river – which he subsequently named the Little Owl River – and the Again River, both of which are located in Canada’s vast, rugged Hudson’s Bay Lowlands. 

Adam has the rare ability to see and truly appreciate the wonders of nature, despite being constantly assailed by millions of biting insects, stalked by hungry, bad tempered carnivores or plunging over waterfalls, and as he clearly demonstrates throughout the book nothing – and I mean nothing – phases or can dampen his enthusiasm and desire to keep pushing forward – even when, as is often the case, he must do it alone.

You may be inclined to ask yourself why anyone in their right mind would endure such dangers and privations simply to explore what would appear to be nothing more than obscure, unnamed and seemingly unimportant squiggles on a map?

Adam perhaps sums it best at page 286:

“It has been my privilege to experience some of the last remaining realms of mystery on the earth. I have tried to tread as gently as possible in these places. I look upon them like a pilgrim does a sacred site. It is my deepest hope that they are preserved for future generations, so that it remains possible to hear the call of faraway lands, of untouched wilderness and the unknown. We all lose when it becomes impossible to find such a place.”

Personally, I find it comforting to know that there are people, who despite the odds and hardships, are always trying to see around the next corner, and in doing so increase our collective knowledge and understanding of the planet on which we live.

This is a very well written book, which kept me drawing me forward, and constantly turning the pages so that I could see and experience what was around the next corner as well – albeit from the comfort and safety of my living room. 

I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy, or for that matter several copies, and share a little adventure with your friends.

Keeping up with the Kardashian’s? Give me a break. 

Just try keeping up with this guy…

Note: The hardcover currently sells for around $25, and the Kobo eBook version for $15.99 and is available through most booksellers including Indigo/Chapters.

Last modified onMonday, 08 February 2016 18:13
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