When explorer Adam Shoalts read about planned Canada 150 celebrations in 2016, he decided his own tribute would be a little more extreme.

So he set off on a 4,000-km canoe trip across the Canadian Arctic.

“Naturally enough,” he joked on CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. “It’s probably crossed everyone’s mind at some point or another.”

The canoeist has now published a book about the adventure call Beyond the Trees: A Journey Alone Across Canada’s Arctic. The journey, which began in the Yukon territory of Eagle Plains and ended in Nunavut’s Baker Lake, saw Shoalts swarmed by ungodly numbers of mosquitoes, breaking through ice floes and encountering “half-ton prehistoric creatures.”

One morning he unzipped his tent, only to discover he was less than two metres away from a massive muskox staring right back at him.

“I try to tell myself, whatever just snapped that branch out there was probably only a red squirrel or something, but when you unzip the screen door of your tent just to peak out and you see a half-ton prehistoric creature staring right back at you with massive horns -- can be a little bit alarming,” he said. “He kind of came trick or treating outside my tent door around 2 a.m. or so.”

He set off a “bear banger” firecracker to scare the animal off. “He’s probably more frightened of me than I am of him, but it turned out that wasn’t really the case,” Shoalts recalled. The animal charged, but luckily ran past his tent.

Still, experiencing animals in their natural habitat was the most thrilling part of his trip, he said. Except for the mosquitoes, which he had lodged in his ear at least a couple of times -- or so he thinks.

“After months alone in the wilderness, you can’t really be sure if it is inside your ear or if it’s just a sound inside your head and you’re imagining it,” he said.