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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,355 ratings  ·  208 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Allen Lane
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,355 ratings  ·  208 reviews

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Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-said, lets-get-real
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
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
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
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
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.
Triumphal Reads
*I did receive a digital version of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Se more reviews at

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
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,

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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.

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.
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
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
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting and engaging, but the writing was juvenile. I felt like I was reading a middle schooler's journal.

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.
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.
Cara Hjort
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, book-club
This is a very good book about an amazingly cool adventure that was one guy’s solo journey across the Arctic. And I kind of hated it. Something about Adam’s personality rubbed me the wrong way. He comes across as a bit arrogant, and keeps trying to be funny in a pseudo-sarcastic way that just did not land with me one single time. I often found his word choice repetitive and sometimes plain wrong. He constantly uses the word gale as a synonym for wind, which bugged me, but not nearly as much as h ...more
Kendra Mills
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh my GOODNESS, this book made my Edmontonian, Social Studies teacher, Canadian history buff heart soar. Historical anecdotes about Canada's past are woven with personal stories, humor and adventure. There's even an Oilers reference in here! ⁣

I read passages of this book to my grade 7 students today, and even they enjoyed it!⁣

This fulfills a prompt for #truenorthreadschallenge - a true story. ⁣
Luke Spooner
Aug 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I love books about the arctic, and it is a personal dream of mine to see a muskox. This book made me desperate to see some of these sights, preferably being dropped off and picked up by a plane though....As a whole, I think I would've appreciated the book more if I was a canoeist. It is also clear that the author is pretty high on his own supply. That said, he did do something pretty amazing, so I suppose that is warranted. ...more
Emily McFarland Oliemans
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
As a lover of nature and outdoor adventures—especially backcountry canoeing—this was so much fun to read. Shoalts writing style is both captivating and humourous, and I am grateful he wrote about this adventure so others could experience it vicariously. Overall the trip sounds like Type 2 fun to me, but worth it for the scenery, wildlife, and— of course—adventure.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Although the story could be tedious and repetitive at times, the retelling of Adam Shoalts’ journey alone through Canada’s North was remarkable, with vivid descriptions and imagery sprinkled throughout.
Brian Hale
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, you have to admire his commitment and drive . He travels Canada’s northern frontier alone. This is a true modern day explorers tale of his experiences and challenges.
Oct 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
This had so much potential and fell short. By the end of the book I dreaded the word ‘mirage.’ Strangely, the afterward was the most compelling, like it was the only part that was written with conviction.
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
"When I reached the end of one map and the start of a new one, I'd set aside the old map to be burned in my fire—thus literally burning through my maps as a measure of my progress." (Page 66) ...more
Colinda Clyne
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am not sure what I was expecting. This is a book about a beautiful area of this land, a really crazy and remarkable adventure, and a whole lot of ego.
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