The Hitchhiker Man chronicles cross-country adventure 

Former Whistlerite Matt Fox releases story of hitching his way to Alaska

click to enlarge Matt Fox’s book, The Hitchhiker Man, is out now. Photo submitted
  • Matt Fox’s book, The Hitchhiker Man, is out now. Photo submitted

It's safe to say Matt Fox was a little lost when he finished his economics degree at Laurentian University in 2007.

Staring down an inevitable desk job, he began to wonder what other versions of life were out there. More specifically, one drunken night, he agreed to hitchhike across Canada with a friend and, despite his misgivings, actually followed through.

"I didn't plan on writing a book," Fox says over the phone from a trip to Bali. "About five years ago I decided I've always been telling my friends stories of the adventures we had. I tried to write down some journals; I have a good memory for stuff like that. I thought it would be 10 or 20 pages and it ended up being 300 pages."

The result was Fox's self-published memoir, The Hitchhiker Man, which was released two months ago, with copies en route to Armchair Books this week.

"It was nerve wracking," he says. "No matter how many times I read it through or how many times my friends told me it was good, I poured my heart out into it and to have people read it, I know how critical people can be. It was hard to let it out there."

But the reviews on both Goodreads and on his Amazon page have been glowing so far.

The story itself is compelling enough—filled with gun-toting drivers, a not-so-friendly bear, and less harrowing chronicles of friendship.

After penning the initial draft, Fox enrolled in writing courses, read books on writing and self-publishing and, eventually, hired a professional editor to help.

"I spent five years learning how to write and improving it and taking writing courses," he says. "I went through maybe 20 edits, which is a lot for a book. It was my baby. I wanted to make it amazing. I tried to put in everything I learned on my journey there."

Some of those lessons? Ontario was the hardest province to hitchhike in, and Alaska, which he hitchhiked to after a three-year stop in Whistler, was the least enjoyable. "B.C. was amazing," he adds. "People were so nice there. I grew up near Toronto, but I love B.C. The people are so much more conscientious and care about the environment. There's so many good people in B.C. Once I was there, it was easier. Rides are easier. It was really enjoyable."

The section on Alaska includes a terrifying tale about one night in a tent in Denali National Park.

Fox woke up to deep breathing and, moments later, the tent began to shake. "I could hear the creature's claws tear the thick Alaskan moss as it circled us. I hoped it wasn't a grizzly, but I had seen so many that morning there was no doubt that it had to be," he wrote.

"There was a point where the last few days in Alaska, we just wanted to get out of there," Fox says. "We were in the middle of bear territory. There was nothing around us and everyone told us we were going to get eaten."

Fox made the section of the journey from B.C. to Alaska after settling in Whistler for a few years. In fact, he says living in the resort impacted his life's trajectory.

"After getting to Whistler, I didn't even consider getting an office job," he says. "I loved skiing in the day and working in the evenings."

He's carried on that lifestyle—working when he has to and surfing as much as he can—in Byron Bay, Aus., where he currently lives. "It's like the Whistler of Australia. It's a small town, there's nice people, lots of active things to do," he says. "I want to be near the mountains or the beach."

Lest you imagine him a perpetual beach bum, Fox's parting lesson to readers is one about persistence and work ethic.

"The quote at the beginning, 'Time and effort can get you anything you want in the world,'" he says.

"If you have a goal, you put in time and effort and learn you can achieve anything you want in life."

Find The Hitchhiker Man at Armchair Books or on Amazon.

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