Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild

NOBA winner medallion

A voyage of self-discovery and renewal across one of the planet’s wildest and most rugged landscapes

“A page-turner of an adventure in the Far North, at turns bone-chilling, mind-blowing, and exultant. This is travel writing at its best.”—Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

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In the growing canon of lyricial exploration literature, Paddlenorth tells the riveting story of Jennifer Kingsley’s 54-day paddling adventure on the Back River in the northern wilderness of the Arctic as she and her five companions battle raging winds, impenetrable sea ice, treacherous rapids, and agonizing physical endurance while contending with rising tensions among the group. But they also experience the lasting joy of grizzly sightings, icy swims, and the caribou’s summer migration.

Woven through this narrative are often-harrowing accounts of the journeys of earlier explorers, some of whom never made it back home. Paddlenorth paints an indelible portrait of the spectacular Arctic landscape, rendered with a naturalist’s eye and an artist’s sensibility, and offers an eloquent exploration of belonging, the nature of friendship, and how wilderness changes us.

“Kingsley goes in search of a place where she feels ‘both small and strong’ and comes back with a fast-paced story of risk, reward, and raw emotion. For fans of adventure literature, here is a wilder Wild.”—J.B. MacKinnon, author of The Once and Future World

Friends looking over the ocean in the arctic

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“For some of us, wilderness is a place—maybe a park. For others, it’s the essence of wild nature, and a park could never enclose it. Some call wilderness a cathedral; others call it a construction.
Inside wilderness lives the elusive idea of wildness, a shape-shifter that crawls onto the crease of a leaf, sleeps between skyscrapers, spreads across a mountain range, or rests in a drop of seawater. We could call it the spirit of wilderness, but wilderness cannot contain it. Wildness overflows the boundaries of location, refusing to conform to a scale or definition.”

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