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Book Review – ‘The 1000 Hour Day’

A couple of days ago, I started reading a book called Mawson by Peter FitzSimons. Long story short, it’s about the discovery of Antarctica in the late 1800’s and the men over the following years who pushed further and further onto that continent, in the race to become the first to reach the South Pole. So far an interesting read, but I am still getting used the writing. As I have been reading it, it has reminded me of another book I read earlier this year. It too was about trekking across a largely untouched block of ice, but was done far more recently. So today I am going to post about that book!

Chris Bray (make sure you check out his website here) is truly a modern day adventurer. At just 28 years of age, he has achieved much more than many of us could hope to achieve in our entire lives and I can’t help but feel pangs of jealousy when I think about how motivated he is, and how unmotivated I am. Here is a short run down of just a few of his achievements:

  • He is an ambassador for the Australian Geographic Society
  • A Fellow of the Explorers Club (based in New York) and also the Chairman for the Australia and New Zealand branch of that club
  • Ambassador for Canon Australia
  •  The first photographer to be sent overseas by the Australian Geographic Society (to Papua New Guinea)
  • Has sailed across the Southern Ocean
  • Trekked through the Tasmanian wilderness – the first time he did it he was the youngest person to do so and was awarded the Australian Geographic Society’s Young Adventurer of the Year in 2004
  • Is one of the best young photographers around (in my humble opinion)
  • Seems to be a pretty down to earth kind of guy, which I think is probably the most important thing of all.

But, by far his greatest achievement and adventure, was the one he undertook with his friend Clark Carter, as they attempted to become the first people to trek unsupported across Victoria Island in the Canadian Arctic, which is the subject of his first book (add author to the growing list of achievements), The 1000 Hour Day. 

The island itself is slightly larger than the island of Great Britiain and is the eighth largest island in the world.

Over a total of 128 days spread across two expeditions, Chris and Clark trekked from the most eastern point of Victoria Island, to its most westerly point. The book is essentially Chris’ journal over those days, documenting the hardships experienced and the harsh beauty of their location. The entire adventure takes place over a period of 4 years, with much of that time going into the planning of the trip, getting sponsors on board and the building of some home designed carts that would be used to haul their supplies across the island, while also having the ability to convert to kayaks, to take advantage of the lakes that were en route.

From being chased by wolves and stalked by polar bears, to enduring truly horrific weather conditions and even worse terrain, this book has your attention from the get go. While the parts covering the journey across the island is enthralling, I really enjoyed reading about the preparation for the journey. For two very young guys (I think Chris was 20 and Clark was 19 when they first started planning – I might be wrong), they were very switched on to the task they had set for themselves. I found myself bewildered at times at how thorough their planning was and how many big name sponsors they managed to get on board, despite many big companies believing that there was no way that they would be able to finish this mammoth adventure. This is the perfect example of proving people wrong.

Victoria Island landscape
photo credit: Laurie Buckland

It’s also a great example of the things that young people can do when they have the drive and the support that they need. We don’t all have to go out and trek across frozen tundra, but if you want to do something, have the belief you can do it and not care too much about what other people think, then there is no reason that you can’t achieve the goals you set for yourself. I must admit, this book certainly whet my appetite for adventure and made me wish I was the “outdoorsy” type – but it’s just not my thing, so I started a blog instead so that I could write, because that’s what I love to do and I don’t particularly mind if other people don’t like my writing. What’s important is that I do it because I want to.

RATING – 10 out of 10. Interesting and insightful from the outset. A really entertaining read and a great effort for a first book.

WHO SHOULD READ IT – Lovers of adventure and photography – there are some great images throughout the book, most of which are certainly once in a lifetime.

WHO YOU’LL LOVE – There’s really only two people in the whole book and it’s hard to choose between them. So I’ll sit on the fence between Chris and Clark for this one. They are both awesome!

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 books to read if you’re in the mood for ADVENTURE | Bits & Books

  2. Hey Heather =)

    Your blog just popped up on my Goole Alerts that i set up to secretly eaves-drop on what people say about my book… Haha. And wow, reading this just made my day =) thank you so very much for your kind words, I’m delighted that you enjoyed my book, it’s really rewarding when I hear that sometimes I can share my passion and experiences to the point where it inspires others to squeeze as much as possible from life too =)

    Do you live in oz? Are you interested in photography, if so, drop me an email and perhaps I can invite you along to one of my photography courses at mates rates =)

    Thanks very much again!

    Cheerio

    Chris

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