(Picture stolen from John’s facebook page)
This winter John Cantor and Evan Howard, both from Australia, will be traversing the Brooks Range from Kotzebue to Kaktovik. Having hiked across the Brooks Range during the summer and lived there during the winter, I can tell you that this will be one heck of an endeavor and one amazing adventure.
They will be starting their expedition this January when the Arctic is at its coldest, darkest, most beautiful and most brutal. They will be battling high winds by the coast, rough terrain and temperatures down to 60 below. John has spent a lot of time up in the Brooks Range and walked across the entire range during the summer of 2012 (which is particularly impressive because it was such a rainy year!). Both Evan and John went on a training trip up in the Brooks Range last winter.
Best of luck to both of you! I’ll be cheering you along the whole way!
http://www.johncantor.com.au/ for more information about the trip.
And “like” John’s facebook page to get updates about the expedition.
Will post some of my own pictures from life in the winter up in the Brooks Range later today!
When I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2007, I left an empty journal at Congdon Shelter in Vermont because it was missing a trail registrar for hikers to sign as they passed through. I put my address in it and the journal was mailed back to me once it was filled.
It came back stuffed to the brim with grimy pages of stories from many travelers who had passed through during those months. There were even some drawings, poems and a couple of dead bugs in there. Friends, who I had passed further south never to see again, noticed my name on the journal and left notes to me. It was kind of like a school year book, a snapshot of time.
The ATC can have it once I’m dead but I will treasure this little book for the rest of my life.
“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes”-Thoreau
This past spring after dirtbagging it across the southwest, I was lucky enough to get to hang out with the Malloy family and Aaron from Patagonia. We did some scrambling around in the Coyote Buttes, petroglyph hunting and a little filming.
Well, whadaya know, but Patagonia’s Worn Wear film just came out and here the footage is!
The film has an important message about consumerism and I am so proud that I got to help out with it. Thank you Patagonia!
This year I was lucky enough to be asked to give a presentation about my Brooks Range hike at ALDHA-West. Before heading out to Nevada City, I had not considered what presenting there would mean. But the heroes of the long distance hiking community, my heroes were there. Swami, Trauma, Anish, Ian Reeves, Snorkel, Pepper, She-Ra, Henry Shires, Jester, Squatch, Dirt Monger, Freefall, Allgood, Yogi, Tarzan, Zelda, Found and so many more. Old friends, new friends, some people who I had never met and had only heard of, yet they all felt like family and I already miss them.
The hike across the Brooks Range was a culmination of my life’s work. I needed the experience I have gained from every thru-hike I had done to get through it. It meant so much to be able to share the trip with people who I look up to and respect so much. The weekend was far too short and left me homesick for the thru-hiker community and drooling over routes and trails that I have yet to hike. I’m already day dreaming up ten different ideas for next year . . . watch out world!
I am now in San Diego staying with my Aunt Elaine and her wonderful family, working on an article for a backpacking publication and enjoying the sun and warm weather while I can.
By now I have walked across quite a bit of this country and have found that the Brooks Range is the last true piece of wilderness that we have. It is the last place that you can travel through and feel like you are the first person to have ever set foot there. It is the last place where you won’t find roads or trails or evidence of civilization. This piece of wilderness is a resource in itself because wilderness is so rare. It still belongs completely to the caribou, wolves, grizzly bears, lynx and musk oxen.
Unfortunately it is not safe from development. The state of Alaska and powerful mining interests are trying to build a road to Ambler, AK one of the villages that I passed through on my Brooks Range traverse. This road will be unreasonably expensive to build and maintain. It will bring hunting and fishing traffic to the region which will hurt the wildlife populations as well as the people who live in the area who depend on the wildlife for food. Putting in a mine also introduces risks that could pollute the Kobuk River.
We cannot keep halving and quartering and cutting this one last perfect piece of wilderness. If you would like to learn more about this situation, please visit the Brooks Range Council’s website. You can also sign a petition to prevent the road from being put in there.
A few days after the Brooks Range traverse, a reporter asked me how it felt to be blazing the way for women in the outdoor community. I quickly set him straight and let him know that women in the outdoor community don’t need anyone to blaze trail for them! Ladies out there are busting ass and taking names all over the place. This summer alone Sage Clegg became the first person to hike the Oregon Desert Trail, Heather “Anish” Anderson tore up the PCT speed record and Sunshine became the youngest person to have ever completed the Triple Crown. I am SO proud to be part of such a awesome community! Hooray for thru-hikers!
To the horror of many, I chose not to carry a gun during my Brooks Range hike. I have been getting some questions about this decision, so I thought I would address it here.
Here are the facts:
- Studies have shown that bear spray is more effective than guns. One study found that bear spray worked 92% of the time in the field while guns only worked 67%. Here is one of many articles that discusses this finding: http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/bear-spray2.htm. If you are handy with a gun, that can be a good choice, but if not, bear spray is a better choice
- Bear attacks are very rare, especially in the Brooks Range
- Only 3 fatal attacks have ever occurred in the Brooks Range
- In one of the fatal attacks, the couple involved had a gun
The bears up in the Brooks Range are not habituated and still have a natural fear of humans. They were just as wary of me as I was of them.
For those reasons I chose to carry bear spray. Every other long distance hiker that I know of who has traversed the Brooks Range has also made the decision to not carry a gun. In two cases they did not bother with bear spray either.
If you chose to hike through the Brooks Range, there is risk no matter what you do and it is up to the individual to decide how they want to prepare. I chose not to carry a gun and if I were to hike across the Brooks Range again, I would make the same decision.
And a video for your enjoyment: