“Almost fifteen years later, Alex Messenger revisits the canoeing expedition that in a matter of minutes turned into a life-changing ordeal. That distance lends honesty and verve to a narrative that steadily builds toward its gripping climax.” —David Roberts, author of Alone on the Ice and Four against the Arctic
The Twenty-Ninth Day by Alex Messenger
A six-hundred-mile canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness is a seventeen-year-old’s dream adventure, but after he is mauled by a grizzly bear, it’s all about staying alive.
This true-life wilderness survival epic recounts seventeen-year-old Alex Messenger’s near-lethal encounter with a grizzly bear during a canoe trip in the Canadian tundra. The story follows Alex and his five companions as they paddle north through harrowing rapids and stunning terrain. Twenty-nine days into the trip, while out hiking alone, Alex is attacked by a barren-ground grizzly. Left for dead, he wakes to find that his summer adventure has become a struggle to stay alive. Over the next hours and days, Alex and his companions tend his wounds and use their resilience, ingenuity, and dogged perseverance to reach help at a remote village a thousand miles north of the US-Canadian border.
The Twenty-Ninth Day is a coming-of-age story like no other, filled with inspiring subarctic landscapes, thrilling riverine paddling, and a trial by fire of the human spirit.
“The Twenty-Ninth Day…well done! Alex Messenger is quite a good writer. It felt like I canoed the Barrens and long for a hot bath to soak my wounds.” —Lonnie Dupre, polar explorer and author of Alone at the Top: Climbing Denali in the Dead of Winter
“The premise of Alex Messenger’s debut The Twenty-Ninth Day is as inviting and cinematic as the precredits movie opening it will certainly be before you or I are much older…The whole thing is told in exactly the same kind of upbeat (Alex survives, obviously), turbo-charged prose that filled, for instance, Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Place…All that’s left is for Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard to step into the role of Alex and do his best with a CGI bear.” —Open Letters Review
“I will never forget the first time I met Alex and his impressive telling of the bear attack. I was transfixed. I thought if he is that adept and can think so quickly in the face of such extreme danger he would be a great person to work with. I was right. And now with his whole story down in book form, I see his writing is even better than his storytelling! I was transfixed again.” —Jim Brandenburg, award-winning nature photographer, filmmaker, and bestselling author
“The Twenty-Ninth Day is a riveting read. Alex Messenger paints the realities of a multiday backcountry canoe trip, as well as the wild Canadian taiga and tundra, in equally vivid detail. Reminiscent of the Beckey brothers adventures into similar country at a similar age, this book calls us to reconsider what we believe possible of ourselves and our youth. The harrowing encounter with a grizzly bear and subsequent survival decisions take us straight to the heart of both life and adventure.” —Heather “Anish” Anderson, author of Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home
Alex Messenger is a Duluth, Minnesota, author, marketer, and photographer who, at seventeen, was mauled by a grizzly bear. In the decade since, he’s worked as a wilderness guide and volunteer search-and-rescue operator. His love of adventure, nature, and cultures has taken him all over the globe, but the north woods and canoe country have always been among his favorite subjects. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Men’s Journal, National Parks magazine, Outside Online, and Backpacker magazine.