A mesmerizing odyssey through an unforgiving landscape, and the rich history it reveals.
What does it mean to explore and confront the unknown? Beyond the Trees recounts Adam Shoalts's epic, never-before-attempted solo crossing of Canada's mainland Arctic in a single season. It's also a multilayered story that weaves the narrative of Shoalts's journey into accounts of other adventurers, explorers, First Nations, fur traders, dreamers, eccentrics, and bush pilots to create an unforgettable tale of adventure and exploration.
Interspersed with his stories of navigating mazes of shifting ice floes, facing down snarling bears and galloping musk-ox, and portaging along knife-edge cliffs above furious rapids, are the fascinating legends, historic persons, and incredible anecdotes that make up the lore of the North. They include the saga of the Mad Trapper, a man whose feats of endurance and ingenuity were almost as legendary as his violent end; the story of the controversial Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a redoubtable dreamer but also one who was blamed for the deaths of his companions; the tale of the "Lost Patrol" of the Mounties who perished in a blinding blizzard; the formidable Tyrell brothers who together charted much of Canada's North; the eerie ruins of Fort Confidence that was built nearly two centuries ago on Great Bear Lake; and the decaying remnants of gold prospector David Douglas's cabin overlooking the Dease River. The North is indeed a perilous place. Also told in the book is the tragedy of John Hornby and his two companions who starved to death on the banks of the Thelon River; their bones are still resting just above the riverbank in shallow graves.
Beyond the Trees also discusses folklore about wendigoes, strange lights, and the mystery of Angikuni Lake, where in 1930 an entire Inuit camp supposedly vanished without a trace. These mysteries and wonders are Shoalts's only companions as he sets out on his own path through the adventure of a lifetime.