All the easy pictures have been taken. But I’m here to tell you there are still some stupid and crazy ones left out there.

I was heading north with at least one of them in mind; I was looking for the polar bear of my dreams. Not a zoo bear, not some hanging-around-the-town-dump bear, and certainly not a Tundra Buggy tourist bear. I was searching for a polar bear living unafraid and standing unchallenged at the very top of the food chain. I planned to photograph that bear living, hunting, and swimming among the melting Arctic sea ice.

My plan to accomplish this was, to put it charitably, a little vague. I imagined that if I gathered up enough survival and camera gear, found a way to haul it halfway across the continent to the end of the road in Canada’s north woods, and loaded it all onto a train bound for the shores of Hudson Bay . . . then somehow or other I would be able to go out and find that polar bear. I’m not always big on details. 

The Book

Now available from Mountaineers Books,  Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, A Bay, and the Quest for the Perfect Bear This 304-page hardcover book with dust jacket and dozens of photographs can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Mountaineers Books, and signed editions are available direct from the author.

“At its heart, Arctic Solitaire is both a paean and a caution to following one's passion to the ends of the earth. Few of us would push so far in pursuit of something as ethereal as a photograph, and fewer would attempt it alone. Souders illuminates what it is to follow a dream to extremes, and he does this with humor, humility, and, in the end, some serious thinking about what is most important in life.”

Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News

Advance publicity from Mountaineers Books...

Photographer Paul Souders considered himself a lucky guy. He traveled the world and got paid to take pictures. Yet at age fifty he seemed an unlikely explorer. Recently married, he was leading a generally contented life as an urban homebody, ending most days with a cold martini and a home-cooked meal. So how did he find himself alone aboard a tiny boat, enduring bad weather and worse cooking, while struggling to find his way across more than a thousand miles of of Hudson Bay? 

It was all for a picture. He dreamed of photographing the Arctic’s most iconic animal, the polar bear, in its natural habitat. It was a seemingly simple plan: Haul a 22-foot fishing boat northeast a few thousand miles, launch, and shoot the perfect polar bear photo. After an inauspicious start and endless days spent driving to the end of northern Canada’s road system, he backed his C-Dory, C-Sick, into a small tributary of Hudson Bay. Battered by winds and plagued by questionable navigation, Paul slowly motored C-Sick north in the hopes of finding the melting summer ice that should be home to more than a thousand polar bears. He struggled along for weeks, grounding on rocks, hiding from storms, and stopping in isolated Inuit villages, until finally, he found the ice and the world was transformed. The ice had brought hundreds of walrus into the bay and dozens of polar bears arrived to hunt and feed. For a few magical days, he was surrounded by incredible wildlife photo ops . He was hooked. 

A hilarious and evocative misadventure, Arctic Solitaire shares Paul Souders exploits across four summers, thousands of  miles of a vast inland sea, and the unpredictable Arctic wilderness—and also offers an insightful look at what compels a person to embark on adventure. The accompanying images of the landscape, people, and wildlife of the remote Hudson Bay region are, in a word, stunning.