Completing the 1,485-mile odyssey around the world’s tenth largest landmass was a crowning achievement in a life of pushing limits in marine expeditions and exploration, mostly by kayak. Along with partner Erik Boomer, forty years his junior, the Ellesmere feat earned Turk a “Adventurer of the Year” nomination by National Geographic.
The historic circumnavigation brought wider renown to a lifetime of exploration, yet prior to Ellesmere Turk was relatively unknown. His parallel achievements as a writer are equally impressive, gems among the many stones of expedition literature. Less lyrical than Peter Matthiessen or Gretel Ehrlich, Turk falls into an older lineage of philosopher-adventurers who test hypotheses against dogma to reveal radical novelties at the core of human history. Sea kayaking and arctic exploration are Turk’s chosen means of developing his theories, collecting data and validating new findings. Think Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki expedition or Colin Turnbull’s radical recasting of modern primitives in The Forest People, bold remappings of our understanding of human place, early migration and the unique, near-forgotten worldviews involved. Controversial as the claims of these explorers were in their day, so too has Turk’s written work attracted dismissive criticism.
Read the rest of this teaser/excerpt (still finishing the full piece) over at Medium.