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Beyond the Trees: A Journey Alone Across Canada's Arctic

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,249 ratings  ·  286 reviews
National bestseller

A thrilling odyssey through an unforgiving landscape, from "Canada's greatest living explorer."

In the spring of 2017, Adam Shoalts, bestselling author and adventurer, set off on an unprecedented solo journey across North America's greatest wilderness. A place where, in our increasingly interconnected, digital world, it's still possible to wander for mon
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Allen Lane
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  2,249 ratings  ·  286 reviews


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Arah-Lynda
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lets-get-real, i-said
It has been a long while since I last read a true adventure story.

And what a story this is.

It’s about one man, travelling alone, primarily by canoe, following the Arctic’s rivers and lakes across Canada’s Arctic region. His name is Adam and his journey began in Eagle Plains, Yukon and culminated in Baker Lake, Nunavit. Planning and preparing for this unimaginable trek began well on three years ago.

Take a look at a map and you will better appreciate the magnitude of such an undertaking. This
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Brandon Forsyth
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I wish I liked this book more, but all I can really get to is admiration. Shoalts is everything you’d want from a modern day explorer: leaving only footprints, taking only photographs, respectful and humble to both local communities and the power of nature, all while doing some truly insane shit that helps bring awareness to larger issues. The only difficulty here is in reading page after page of portaging - if I can damn him with faint praise, Shoalts makes the interminable process of lugging s ...more
Bandit
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I devour travelogues and travel adventures the way a thoroughly unadventurous stationary person might. Voraciously. So I came across this one on Netgalley and it’s advertised as written by Canada’s Indiana Jones. What? Ok, yeah, bring it. But what comes to mind trying to imagine a Canadian Indiana Jones? Like a really mild mannered, polite one? I mean, I don’t get how the comparison holds up, not based on this book anyway. This isn’t Indiana Jones, this is a guy who loves nature and solitude and ...more
Anne
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the sort of book I love to read in bed with the wind roaring outside and the rain lashing on the window. I'm tucked up cosy and comfortable reading about an adventurer canoeing alone across the north of Canada and having to sit it out for days because the ice is too thick to break through with out damaging his canoe. I sip my tea and give thanks that people like Adam Shoalts are driven to do these things so I can read about them!

I am not in the least adventurous. I get panicked if I have
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Triumphal Reads
*I did receive a digital version of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Se more reviews at www.triumphalreads.com

After first reading the book was going to be about a 4,000 kilometer canoe trip, I knew it would be a pretty good travel story. However, after also reading that these 4,000 kilometers were also pretty much all above the Arctic Circle in the far north of Canada, I knew this would also be an excellent adventure story as well considering the harrowing conditions
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Ben Gigone
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
My first travel log and I enjoyed it a lot. Would’ve loved to get inside Shoalts’ head a little bit more as the majority was simply describing the physicality of the trek. Adding a star because he’s a local homie and way cooler than I am.
Dorine
Beyond the Trees: A Journey Alone Across Canada’s Arctic by Adam Shoalts is an amazing, adventurous true story that makes the heart yearn for desolate, wild places. Most significant is how any human can make a trip of this magnitude all alone. I constantly feared for Adam’s safety and sanity.

See the full color review at my blog, TheZestQuest.com

I can relate to the magnificence of the wilderness, but I enjoy it with a few more conveniences. This book enthused me with its awareness to be in tune w
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Louise
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, non-fiction
I was expecting to be entertained by a great adventure story. I was not. I was bored most of the way through. It did not help that I listened to this in audio, narrated by the author with his dull, monotone voice. Audiobook narration should be left up to the professionals....

I also think the author has a fixation with the word "portage" because it must be used over a thousand times in the book.
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Chantel
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
In an unprecedented feat, Shoalts journey across the arctic in a single season. His book depicts both wonderful & harrowing scenes of the Canadian landscape. I enjoyed reading about his efforts, very much.

Canada is a large landmass — the landscape could be painted a thousand times over & still there would be more to appreciate & love. Reading about the first-person experiences & knowledge from Shoalts truly made this read enjoyable.

That being said, this book did feel longer than it was. I admit,
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Shoubster
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Adam’s incredible journey across the Canadian Arctic is what originally drew me to the book. As an avid outdoor lover I enjoyed reading about the description of the landscape he crossed as well as the technical skills he used during his journey.

Unfortunately the book was very lacklustre. I found the book to be very repetitive throughout, as well I did wish I could dive into Adams head and understand the mental side of the journey as well.
Brandon
In the spring of 2017, author and adventurer Adam Shoalts embarked on an ambitious project. For four months, Adam would travel alone across Canada’s arctic region by canoe. The four thousand kilometer trek would see Shoalts go weeks without human contact as he would battle dangerous terrain, ice-packed water and horrendous winds. I haven’t even mentioned the threat of wildlife! Bears, wolves and muskoxen would threaten his safety. Oh, and don’t forget the hordes of black flies chomping at even t ...more
Wendelle
really great travel journal of one person's test of the human limits of mental and physical perseverance, in pursuit of contact with nature in the Canadian north. There is no bloat in this account, no torturous ruminations of the author's self-sacrifice, but not much record of the author's inner reflections or epiphanies either. Rather, this is a meticulous record of the author's encounters and experiences, visual descriptions of the harsh but unique landscape, close-ups with wildlife like the m ...more
Lorena
Feb 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
Phenomenal adventure. Kind of a weird feeling at the end where there weren't any significant mishaps or intense drama but he portrays the journey so well that it still doesn't feel possible to be replicated. Also loved how much random facts were interspersed. It would be hard to make a trip like this boring to read, but Shoalts does better than that. Solid read. ...more
Natasha Penney
Dec 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
A wonderful adventure story with ambition, imagination and courage. So. Much. Portaging detail weighed down the narrative at times. But Shoalts does have a gift for telling a really good story. Considering the source material he had to draw from, I am not surprised at all I enjoyed this book.
Robin Nemeth
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I simply, loved this book.

To me, Adam had a way of bringing to life the barren wilds of the Arctic. What could have been a very fact filled and dry account of his journey was turned into something utterly fascinating.

By no means an I am adventurer like Adam, but I definitely connect with finding calm and peace and being reenergized by nature. I love hiking and paddling and the simple calm overlooking a body of water, or the utter awe looking up in a stand of trees. That’s my cathedral in life.

W
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Karrie
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
Part personal journey, touches on history and black flies. Shoalts describes his journey in detail, but aside from it having not been done previously - there wasn't anything particularly unique about the voyage. I understand the constant peril he was in, but I thought more joy would be expressed. Perhaps this is better suited to people who don't live in Canada.

My favourite part was him talking about how awkward it was when he encountered people after being alone for so long. The part that grated
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David Philpott
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
The book is not what I expected, but I suppose that is my fault. I was hoping to learn about what drives a man to spend four months alone crossing 4 000 km of Arctic tundra. But Adam didn't write so much about why. He wrote about how. This book was a detailed account of his day-to-day travel and strategies he used. If you were planning a similar trip this book would be very useful. But for me, as a casual reader, I was a little bored. Kudos to Adam though, I still struggle to believe he actual m ...more
Nathan Ells
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was quite impressed by Adam's passion for exploration, as well as his extensive knowledge and experience in wilderness survival. I would recommend Beyond the Trees to any who are interested in the Canadian North, paddling, and wilderness survival. I found it a little slow by times but I chock this up to the slow, arduous nature of Adam's solo trek across the tundra. My longest days of hiking (with no gear keep in mind) would be average or below average for Mr. Shoalts who had no trails or path ...more
Hbenleon
Apr 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to like it more. Great story, great adventure, but the descriptions sort of melted into one repetitive visual. Also he came off a a little too holier-than-thou....would still probably recommend to those who enjoy outdoor adventure reads.
Barb
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Canada's answer to Indiana Jones perhaps a little crazier . LOVED IT!!! ...more
Heather
Sep 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hi, another reminder that I'm deleting all this and transitioning to only using The StoryGraph at the end of this year. Find me here.

--

I may edit this review to gush more over this book. THIS BOOK .

It's somehow entertaining, inspiring, relatable, otherworldly, funny, educational, and incredibly precise. The author's voice is incredibly well-formed and his storytelling throughout is impeccable.

I have revelled in reading this - I kept drawing out finishing it. (Plus, due to the aforementioned i
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Sarah
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
4000 km solo journey by foot and canoe across Canada’s arctic. Adam’s greatest challenge? Bears? Wolves? ...... Blackflies! Good descriptions of the landscapes and his physical endurance but what was lacking was introspection, reflection.
Maria
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have a bit of a backlog of reviews to write, but I decided to start with Adam Shoalts' book, Beyond the Trees, because it's the one that stands out the most in my memory. 

Adam Shoalts is a Canadian adventurer that had his 15 minutes of fame when he discovered a waterfall canoeing the Hudson Bay lowlands that wasn't shown on any maps. From there he landed a job as Explorer in Residence with the Canadian Geographic Society, which pretty much sounds like the coolest gig in the world to me. 

In hon
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Garry
Apr 08, 2022 rated it really liked it
I listened to this as an audio book. This is a story about a modern Canadian making his way by himself in a canoe across the Canadian north. From the Yukon to Hudson's Bay. . It seemed repetitive but I guess there's only so much you can say about 13 hour days paddling mostly up river. ...more
Kaeli Wood
This is a fine piece of travel writing, as Adam Shoalts' voice is funny and thoughtful and his journey is a unique and eventful one. The thing that holds it back from being great travel writing, however, is significant: this book lacks an emotional core. Most travel books need this to really hold together as a coherent "story," and this one reads more like a well-edited copy of someone's travel journal. It's just an account of a journey; it's not a memoir, or a persuasive essay, or even a story ...more
Ben Rogers
Interesting and engaging, but the writing was juvenile. I felt like I was reading a middle schooler's journal.

2.9/5
...more
Brenda
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Grueling trek, but worth every step and paddle. The beauty of the country, the peaceful essence of wildness come through with every word. Will read his first book Alone Against the North next.
Scott C
Jan 23, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole S
Aug 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Gault
Jan 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Barely credible but true account of a solo adventure across the Canadian Arctic.
Shoalts set himself the task of taking his canoe 4000km from the Yukon to the edge of the Hudson Bay as his way of celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary. It was a crazy idea. Much of the time he was going up rivers - such as the fast flowing and powerful Mackenzie. Rapids were always hazardous whether going with or against the flow. Long portages were an exhausting struggle through swamp, brush or tangled rocks. La
...more
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ADAM SHOALTS is a historian, archaeologist, geographer, and Westaway Explorer-in-Residence at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Shoalts holds a PhD from McMaster University where his research examined the influence Indigenous oral traditions had on fur traders in the subarctic and Pacific Northwest. He is also the author of Alone Against the North, A History of Canada in Ten Maps, and Beyon ...more

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