Beyond the Trees
Why had no one traversed Canada's arctic from west to east before Adam Shoalts set out to be the first in the spring of 2017? Because it was deemed impossible.
Between his starting point in Eagle Plains, Yukon Territory, to his destination in Baker Lake, Nunavut, lies a maze of obstacles. Any of them would be daunting to even the most adventurous explorer. Together, they might be suicidal.
But with trademark doggedness fuelled by his unquenchable love of nature, Shoalts sets out nonetheless. He must time his departure by the breakup of the spring ice, then sprint across 4500 kilometers of inhumanly rugged terrain to arrive before winter closes in. Along the way, he must travel, alone, up the Coppermine river, a route that only the most expert whitewater canoists dare travel even downstream, and then in groups large enough to guarantee safety in the event of an all-too-likely emergency.
But his rewards are beyond reckoning: the crystalline arctic water that allows him to see to the bottom of fathomless pristine lakes, the company of curious wolves loping curiously alongside his route, the astonishing diversity of the arctic ecosystems, from the countless lakes of the swampy wetlands to the dunes of a northern desert. Water so pure he can drink from lakes without filtering, silence so pure he can hear the wind rushing under a bird's wings.
Shoalts's only company is the lore of the north, the stories of other adventurers, explorers, First Nations, fur traders, dreamers, eccentrics, and bush pilots who like him are drawn to the arctic. These mysteries and wonders are Shoalts's inspiration as he sets out on his own path through the adventure of a lifetime. (From Allen Lane)
Adam Shoalts is an explorer and a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. He is also the author of Alone Against the North and A History of Canada in Ten Maps.
- 40 works of Canadian nonfiction to watch for this fall
- McMaster explorer completes 4,000 km solo journey across vast arctic tundra
- How Adam Shoalts explored Canada's past, one epic map at a time
- The CBC Books winter reading list: 40 books to read to kick off 2020