Alone Against the North
An Expedition into the Unknown
Finalist for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario's 2016 Young Authors Award
Shortlisted for the 2017 Louise de Kiriline Award for Nonfiction
The age of exploration is not over.
When Adam Shoalts ventured into the largest unexplored wilderness on the planet, he hoped to set foot where no one had ever gone before. What he discovered surprised even him.
Shoalts was no stranger to the wilderness. He had hacked his way through jungles and swamp, had stared down polar bears and climbed mountains. But one spot on the map called out to him irresistibly: the Hudson Bay Lowlands, a trackless expanse of muskeg and lonely rivers, caribou and wolf—an Amazon of the north, parts of which to this day remain unexplored.
Cutting through this forbidding landscape is a river no explorer, trapper, or canoeist had left any record of paddling. It was this river that Shoalts was obsessively determined to explore.
It took him several attempts, and years of research. But finally, alone, he found the headwaters of the mysterious river. He believed he had discovered what he had set out to find. But the adventure had just begun. Unexpected dangers awaited him downstream.
Gripping and often poetic, Alone Against the North is a classic adventure story of single-minded obsession, physical hardship, and the restless sense of wonder that every explorer has in common.
But what does exploration mean in an age when satellite imagery of even the remotest corner of the planet is available to anyone with a phone? Is there anything left to explore?
What Shoalts discovered as he paddled downriver was a series of unmapped waterfalls that could easily have killed him. Just as astonishing was the media reaction when he got back to civilization. He was crowned “Canada’s Indiana Jones” and appeared on morning television. He was feted by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and congratulated by the Governor General. People were enthralled by Shoalts’s proof that the world is bigger than we think.
Shoalts’s story makes it clear that the world can become known only by getting out of our cars and armchairs, and setting out into the unknown, where every step is different from the one before, and something you may never have imagined lies around the next curve in the river.
“Rare insight into the heart and mind of an explorer, and the insatiable hunger for the unknown that both inspires and drives one to the edge. Adam Shoalts, twenty-first-century explorer, calmly describes the things he has endured that would drive most people to
despair, or even madness.”
—Col. Chris Hadfield, astronaut, author, space station commander
“Adam Shoalts is Canada’s Indiana Jones—portaging in the north, dodging scary rapids, plunging into darkness, and surviving to tell the tale.”
“Adam Shoalts has captured the world’s imagination with his discovery of uncharted waterfalls.”
—The Royal Canadian Geographical Society
“Move over Jacques Cartier, Christopher Columbus, and Sir Francis Drake—Adam Shoalts is this century’s explorer.”
—The Hamilton Spectator
“Doing things the easy way has never been my style. There is no adventure in that! In Alone Against the North, Adam Shoalts does nothing the easy way. He travels to places no one has ever seen before and as a result comes back with an amazing story. As gripping to read as it must’ve been exciting to live!”
—Les Stroud, Survivorman
"Explorer Adam Shoalts's remarkable solo foray into the quietly dangerous and mysterious Hudson Bay Lowlands is the kind of incredible effort that fosters legends."
—The Winnipeg Free Press
“Anyone who thinks exploration is dead should read this book (Alone Against the North).”
—John Geiger, author, CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society
“While the book is a nail-biting chronicle of polar-bear encounters, brutal swarms of black flies and surprise tumbles down waterfalls, Shoalts also vividly describes an area of the country most of us will never witness.”
“His narrative is both humourous and honest, and at times intensely gripping.”
—St. Catharines Standard
“Keeping up with the Kardashian's? Give me a break. Just try keeping up with this guy…”