Halfway up the British Columbia coast, along the fabled Inside Passage route to Alaska, lies The Great Bear Rainforest. This remote and little-visited Shangri-La is one of the last intact wilderness regions left on Earth – home to ancient indigenous communities and a medley of majestic species from primeval red cedars, to humpback whales, grizzlies, and the iconic white “Spirit Bear.”
According to the denizens of this region, another giant is said to roam these woods. For centuries, both indigenous and non-indigenous residents have reported encounters with the “Sasquatch” – an apocryphal species of man-ape believed to be living in the deepest nooks of this far-flung coast. Sightings of the elusive creatures and their tracks are so common that nearly everyone has a story.
Driven by a lifelong fascination with these reports and a need to make sense of them, John Zada travels to the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest to hear tales of these encounters. While braving the elements and an impossibly rugged terrain, Zada uncovers a quirky coastal subculture filled with characters. Loggers, hunters, indigenous elders, environmentalists and wilderness guides provide him with tantalizing clues for his investigation while giving him rare insight into the lives of their struggling communities.
As the author’s journey deepens it transforms into a quest to understand perception, belief and the nature of reality – as well as his own deeper motives.
In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch is a compelling portrait of one of nature’s most enduring mysteries amid a magical, but unsettled region threatened by human activity.
AN AMAZON 2019 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
“Books on supernatural phenomena typically steer one of two courses: tabloid gullibility or mean-spirited debunkery. Zada deftly tightropes between the two . . . In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond is not really about sasquatch. It is about how we see what we want to see and don’t see what we’re not prepared to see . . . A quirky and oddly captivating tale.”―Eric Weiner, Washington Post
“An adventure story in the tradition of Paul Theroux and, in parts, Jon Krakauer . . . Zada is a latter-day Henry David Thoreau or John Muir . . . Searching for an elusive ape, Zada has a knack for meeting unforgettable humans.”―Peter Kuitenbrouwer, Globe and Mail
“Zada wonders only in passing about how big bigfoot’s feet are or how richly the creature may stink. His concerns are more metaphysical: What does it mean to believe in something absurd, something that eludes any effort to prove its existence? Roaming through the First Nations communities of coastal British Columbia, Zada camps out at the foggy junction of lore and fact. He’s a disarming travel companion, and his curiosity is contagious.―Dan Piepenbring, The Paris Review
“As eloquent and big-hearted as, for instance, Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard . . . Despite the towering creature at its heart, the genius of In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond is most often its human pathos . . . Odd, winning gravitas . . . The shelf of serious, beautifully done Bigfoot books isn’t exactly a crowded one, but it now has an indisputable classic.”―Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly
“Bigfoot lives―maybe, as this X-Files-worthy tale reveals . . . Traveling deep into the old-growth forests of British Columbia, [Zada] had a look for himself, and it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that he adds to the seen/unproven inventory . . . Believe or don’t, the author writes nimbly and well, and his story is modest and evenhanded even as he lets us know just where he stands. An entertaining, provocative exercise in cryptozoology.”―Kirkus Reviews
“In this fascinating nature narrative, freelance writer Zada searches for evidence of Bigfoot in the forests of the Pacific Northwest . . . Zada relates his adventures, including his encounters with bears, along with his observations into the collective unconscious of humans and how brains construct reality . . . Zada’s fun, well-written travelogue will interest environmentalists and armchair adventurers alike.”―Publishers Weekly
“Zada strikes an engaging balance between curiosity and skepticism, letting the locals’ convincing stories speak for themselves while probing the science behind misperceptions and cultural beliefs. While fringe-watchers will relish Zada’s Sasquatch research, nature buffs will also enjoy his lush descriptions of the Canadian Pacific Northwest wilderness.”―Booklist
“John Zada is one of those rare writers who conjures spellbinding prose through an acute sense of nature’s significance and the mythologies we all inhabit. A profound debut.”―Robert Twigger, author of White Mountain: A Cultural Adventure through the Himalayas and Red Nile: A Biography of the World’s Greatest River
“In the world of travel writing there are two kinds of author. The first writes from the outside in, at best only scratching the surface of the lands through which they travel. The second kind of author writes in a profound and elegant way, the narrative charged with humility―observed from the inside out. John Zada is an author of the second approach―from the school of master travel writers. His prose is an utter delight, and his observances are shrewd and often extraordinary. But most of all, Zada has the ability to suck readers in deep, so that they’re right there with him on the trail of the Sasquatch. I recommend In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond more highly than any other travel book I have read in years. With time it will become a classic, and Zada will be recognized as the foremost chronicler of what is surely one of the most beguiling preserves in all adventure.”―Tahir Shah, author of In Arabian Nights and The Caliph’s House
“Finally a truly talented writer approaches a subject matter that has been otherwise relegated to a cultural punchline thanks to, primarily, reality television. John Zada’s quest for this holy grail and his compulsion for emotional narrative is nothing less than a modern-day mythical journey; and he shares it with us in a perfect blend of poetic prose and creative story-telling. I took this journey myself when I began producing ten documentary films on the subject of Bigfoot and John completely captures the essence of what you experience: the landscape first, followed by the people and their rich culture, and finally the human mind as it tries to make sense of what might be the world’s most bewildering phenomenon. Only after that journey is completed, as John did, does one finally meet the creature itself.”―Survivorman Les Stroud
“A fascinating and unique account of the Bigfoot phenomenon that is equal parts memoir, psychology, travelogue, cultural commentary and manifesto on nature. Totally gripping and unputdownable. Destined to be a classic of adventure and a standout among the more conventional works on the Sasquatch.”―Jason Webster, author of A Death in Valencia
“We all search for wild things, in our worlds and in our minds, and John Zada leads us into the dark and misty corners of British Columbia’s forested mountains on a quest for a legend: the Sasquatch. These furry phantoms vividly materialize for a blink, but turn the page and they’re gone—with Zada deftly blending reality and fable, what is true and what is fantastic. A captivating tale of the search for a mythical creature, In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond is also a story about us—and our enduring desire to believe in something big, really big, that is out there lurking.” ―Harley Rustad, author of Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees
“John Zada’s In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond doesn’t capture evidence of Sasquatch on camera or offer a stunning, first-hand account. Nor does he put the myth to rest to satisfy the naysayers. What Zada does do is offer readers a larger understanding of why so many First Nations people and British Columbians do claim to have seen North America’s reclusive primate. With the heart of a mystic and the intrepidness of an adventurer, Zada travels the wilds of the Great Bear Rainforest to satisfy his own curiosity once and for all.” ―Kelly Barth, Raven Book Store (Lawrence, Kansas)