About the Book
On the central and north coast of British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, containing more organic matter than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. The area plays host to a wide range of species, from thousand-year-old western cedars to humpback whales to iconic white Spirit bears.
According to local residents, another giant is said to live in these woods. For centuries people have reported encounters with the Sasquatch—a species of hairy bipedal man-apes said to inhabit the deepest recesses of this pristine wilderness. Driven by his own childhood obsession with the creatures, John Zada decides to seek out the diverse inhabitants of this rugged and far-flung coast, where nearly everyone has a story to tell, from a scientist who dedicated his life to researching the Sasquatch, to members of the area’s First Nations, to a former grizzly bear hunter-turned-nature tour guide. With each tale, Zada discovers that his search for the Sasquatch is a quest for something infinitely more complex, cutting across questions of human perception, scientific inquiry, indigenous traditions, the environment, and the power and desire of the human imagination to believe in—or reject—something largely unseen.
Teeming with gorgeous nature writing and a driving narrative that takes us through the forests and into the valleys of a remote and seldom visited region, In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond sheds light on what our decades-long pursuit of the Sasquatch can tell us about ourselves and invites us to welcome wonder for the unknown back into our lives.
Praise for In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond:
“Bigfoot lives—maybe, as this X-Files-worthy tale reveals . . . Traveling deep into the old-growth forests of British Columbia, [John 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
“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 storytelling. 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
“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
“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
“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, KS)
As a child I was obsessed by stories about Bigfoot. I grew up in the 1970s and early 80s, a time when Sasquatch had become a pop-culture icon after a string of movies and television shows exploited the public’s apparent fascination with the creature. I became literate by reading some of the first books published on the subject. For years, the creatures, which I came to believe in wholeheartedly, even appeared to me in my dreams at night. They were otherworldly, existing far beyond the pale, yet fitting perfectly into the fabric of my mental universe.
I mostly grew out of this obsession, but part of it remained with me. Now, through no will or decision of my own, my old interest was rediscovered—like an amnesiac’s memory found. But unlike before, the faded old yarns printed in dusty library books were turning into real life experiences shared trustingly with me—a writer and journalist—by the people who lived and breathed them. I felt compelled to investigate and make sense of this mystery, which, to me, languished in inexplicability for far too long. Maybe I could discover something that others hadn’t.