Even though solstice has passed and the light is returning, winter still stretches out in front of us for several months to come. There’s one thing all these dark, long evenings are perfect for and that’s curling up with cup of something warm, a blanket on your lap, and a really good book.
Whether you’re already dreaming of summer or content to cozy up with snowy tale, we’ve put together a list of our very favorite adventure reads. These non-fiction picks are a combination of old classics and promising new authors who are on the front line of modern exploration. These folks push the envelope of human endurance and define the true meaning of an adventurer’s spirit.
The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds
by Caroline Van Hemert
This true-story epic of personal exploration details the expedition of wildlife biologist Caroline Van Hemert and her husband as they navigate 4,000 miles of wilderness, traveling by human-powered means only. Along the way, Van Hemert struggles with some of life’s greatest questions about purpose, meaning, and belonging.
Starting in Bellingham, Washington, they row up the Inside Passage and then continue by ski, foot, canoe, and pack raft to the Arctic Ocean. After following in the footsteps of migrating caribou herds, coming face to face with a charging bear, and surviving near starvation, the couple complete a traverse of the Brooks range. As an Arctic winter approaches, they arrive at their final destination–Kotzebue, Alaska.
This book is for those who dream of getting lost in deep wilderness as a way to find themselves again. If it ends up inspiring you to join a Pacific Northwest adventure of your own, you can learn more about the trips we’re planning in the same region where Van Hemert begins her journey.
The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
by Kevin Fedarko
Written by a Grand Canyon river guide, this thrilling book details the courageous (some might say crazy) plan to launch a small wooden boat from downstream of the Glen Canyon Dam after one of the largest dam failure events in American history. Rafting on the waters of a rushing flood, Kenton Grua and two other raft guides set out to achieve the fastest recorded paddle of the Colorado River. Hurtling through the canyon on 72,000 cubic feet of water per second, the expedition seemed to many like a death wish. To Grua, it was the opportunity to realize a dream.
Winner of the 2013 Outdoor National Book Award, this read is a paddler’s thrill-ride sure to inspire a sense of daring. Learn more about the 3-day, 52 mile whitewater rafting section of our very own Grand Canyon adventure.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
by Jon Krakauer
This legendary classic is a nail biting read, sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Grab a blanket and settle close to the fire before diving in to Krakauer’s harrowing firsthand account of the snowy desperation and bitter cold. In stark prose, Krakauer details the 1996 mountaineering accident of catastrophic proportion and his own involvement in the chain of events. A story of summit fever, heroic acts, and fatal decisions, Into Thin Air makes for a riveting reminder of the timeless power of the mountains and the swiftness of nature’s retribution.
Krakauer’s book is a cautionary tale about what can go wrong on a mountaineering expedition, but it also serves as a humbling tribute to the reasons we choose to go into the mountains in the first place. A must read for every passionate hiker and burgeoning peak bagger.
We don’t have trips to Everest, but we do run our own summit service to the tallest peak on the African continent. A sister to Everest, Mt. Kilimanjaro holds its place as one of the world’s Seven Summits. It’s also a much safer and more accessible climb.
Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Venture
by Julia Flynn Siler
A fascinating and necessary window into the history of Hawaii as a sovereign island nation, Lost Kingdom provides context for the issues modern Hawaii now faces. A must read for any foreigner planning on traveling to islands, this book details the historical events leading up to colonial rule, from the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778 to the fall of the last Hawaiian queen. Compelling and tragic, Lost Kingdom provides a history lesson that’s often forgotten when we think of palm trees, paradise, and toes in the sand.
This book is the perfect pre-trip read for anyone interested in our Hawaii trips. Understanding the historical context of colonized places is a wonderful way to become a more intentional traveler.
Adventure reads are perfect companions on any trip, across the United States or the globe. Whether you’re searching for some inspiration for your own adventures to come or looking for the right gift to send along with the adventurer in your life, we hope you’ve enjoyed our hand picked list of favorites. Happy reading!