Above the Arctic Circle at midnight, when the August sun gently kisses the horizon, the mighty Mackenzie River reflects a spectrum of brilliance. Here, as Alexander Mackenzie left it in 1789, this silent river still glides rhythmically to the Arctic Ocean- still, after almost two centuries, untamed and unmarred. How could this magnificent spectacle ever have been one man's river of disappointment? This exquisite moment, accented by the stillness of air and the vastness of river and sky, held me hypnotized in the footsteps of Canada's great explorer. What a glorious beginning to a nine month adventure that would take me accross five provinces of Canada and twenty-two of the United States! I would follow the trails of explorerswhose varied lives led them to unknown horizons, along trails now pathways in history. My challenge was to identify settings of their work, capture scenes they saw at the appropriate seasons in similar weather, record the wilderness they knew where it still survives. Along these trails, I know I shared some of their impressions. I felt a tinge of panic at being lost... the madness of no escape from black flies and mosquitos in an Arctic summer... the shortness of breath and the paradoxical burning sensation of nose and cheeks in minus 40 degree cold. I knew the weight of lonliness as I stood beneath a heavy, slate-gray sky on the barren coast of Hudson Bay, where surveyor David Thompson first landed as a boy at the age of 14. Moving through the humid low country of Georgia, with William Beltram's verbal and artistic portraits at hand, I could touch the complexity of life in this floral web. Other adventures of destiny-Lewis and Clark, John Charles Fremont, Kit Carson, the friars Escalante and Dminiguez, Daniel Boone and the grizzled mountain men- took me along to share their vistas and byways of solitude. Take this book to a quiet place... stand beside the trails now made famous by history. As you read, pause now and then to listen carefully for the sounds of their footsteps- you are no longer seperated in time.