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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Adventure North is a nonfiction adventure memoir written by Sean Bloomfield. While most high school seniors were enjoying the last few months of their final spring semester, Bloomfield and his friend, Colton Witte, were setting out on the adventure of a lifetime. They had concentrated their studies in order to allow them to set out early enough to complete their canoe voyage from Chaska, a Minneapolis suburb, up to York Factory, on the Hudson Bay, before the end of the Arctic summer. They would depend only upon maps, a compass and their own rowing power, with a satellite tracker being the only concession to technology; one that would enable them to let their parents know they were okay; would allow them to signal for an emergency assistance and, to request a float plane once they arrived at their destination. The two eighteen-year-olds were following in the footsteps of Eric Sevareid and Walter Port, whose journey in 1930 was memorialized in Sevareid’s book entitled Canoeing with the Cree. Witte had read that book while he was in the seventh grade, and had shared it with Bloomfield. They were experienced canoers and had carefully prepared for this challenge. But just how challenging it would be was waiting for them to discover.
Adventure North is not for the faint of heart. There are endless days of cold, chilly fog, rain and wind. The two explorers had set out against the wind and currents of the Minnesota River with no grace period of easy paddling, and their April departure date meant grueling cold mornings and chilly nights. But despite the gray skies, the frigid temperatures and the bone-breaking effort of portaging their canoe and supplies past dangerous rapids, dams and waterfalls, there’s that sense of adventure that comes through on every page, and that one can only find in the writings of true explorers. Bloomfield and Witte have handily earned their place in that lofty pantheon of adventurers who continue to inspire other like-minded souls.
I loved every minute I spent reading this book and got more deeply involved in their journey with each succeeding page. I found myself poring over Googled maps of the rivers and lakes they traversed and started studying the specs of the two Bell canoes they used on their trip. And while it’s been a while since I’ve owned a canoe or a kayak, I began considering adding kayaking to my water sports activities. Reliving their journey was that inspirational for me, and that’s a fine thing indeed. Bloomfield’s story is an honest and moving account that shares both the exhilaration and the downright despair, including those moments when giving up seemed so easy. Anyone who has ever had an ounce of adventure in their mind or imagination should definitely consider picking up this book and letting it rekindle that spark as it did mine. Bloomfield and Witte are the perfect companions for any outdoor quest or challenge, and they’d definitely top my list were I assembling a team. Reading this account of their adventure up to York Factory is an adventure itself and not to be missed. Adventure North is most highly recommended.