So far this winter I have really focused my reading on the outdoors. In some cases it’s been outdoor themed fiction but I have been reading a lot of non fiction like the book I am reviewing today.
Beyond the Trees by Adam Shoalts Amazon Link is both an adventure guide and a trip journal. To coincide for Canada’s 150th anniversary Shoalts organized a solo paddling trip almost 4000 KM in length! In my opinion this was enough to hook me but the fact that this trip has Adam travelling across Canada’s artic region made it really stand out as something I wanted to read. I was familiar with Adam’s writing as a few years ago (pre Northern Jacks) I had read his first novel Alone Against the North Amazon Link. It’s a great read as well.
What I really enjoyed about Beyond the Tree’s is how well Adam was able to transport me to the terrain of the Artic. Throughout reading I found myself putting down my Kindle and pulling up Google maps and searching “Coppermine River” or “Baker Lake”. He also vividly describes his encounters with the Flora and Fauna of the Artic and again I was searching “Grizzly” and “Musk Ox’ to put pictures to his words.
As someone doing such an expansive trip on his own (much of the trip is upriver and crossing lakes covered in ice) Shoalt’s ends up dispatching wisdom that could be described as self help like but comes across in an earnest and not preachy manner. He speaks often of waking up in the morning after a particularly grueling travel day or restless sleep and needing to just simplify his journey into micro chunks.
If you need a little danger or urgency in your reading there is certainly quite a lot in this book. There is certainly a ticking clock throughout the journey. Arrive to early and be trapped by ice, take to long and get blocked by the Artic winter. There are also some interesting animal encounters that Shoalt’s does an excellent job of describing.
Overall, this book is a recommend for me. I really enjoyed, had trouble putting it down and found myself both in awe and inspired by the author’s moxie. On my personal trips I can certainly get focused on comfort – does this place have a toilet, can I bring a cot and so forth. But reading books like this one remind me that I am probably capable of much more than I think and that comfort becomes secondary when you are experiencing something truly incredible.
I will be adding a few more book reviews in the next few months - one epic paddling journey, one tale of survival in Antarctica and another by Mr. Shoalts