What inspires you? My intent for this Inspiration Blog is to tickle that unique something inside of each of us to deliberately seek your own source of inspiration. We are all unique in what inspires us—maybe it’s walks in the woods, sailing, painting, music, reading, star gazing. For some of us, our sources of inspiration may be considered a bit crazy, or I prefer to say “out of the box”.
Every year I totally unplug from my hectic life and go remote. What do I mean by remote? I trek some distant, isolated wilderness, usually involving a mountain range where there is little if any communication with the outside world–no access to phone, electronics, news and other creature comforts.
Last year I embarked on an 11-day backpacking trip in the Alaskan Arctic with a group of four trekkers and two guides. We were dropped by bush plane at a remote landing strip on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. For 10 days we trekked across the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Refuge plain into the Brooks Mountain Range.
The off-trail hiking across tundra, dry rocky river beds, raging rivers, ice, snow and steep mountains was the hardest, most demanding trek I’ve ever done. Seven days into our journey my ankles ached like never before from the weight of my 40 pound pack and the uneven terrain. The challenging terrain frequently slowed us to one mile an hour.
Yet, despite these extreme challenges, I had some of the most exhilarating and inspiring experiences I could ever imagine. I watched herds of caribou graze by my tent and arctic foxes that are rarely seen. Stealth black wolves looked for caribou. A grizzly bear nursed her cub in a rarely-seen moment. Birds nested on the tundra. With 24 hours of daylight, the sun circled just above the horizon. The sounds of raging rivers broken by calving ice, 600-year-old Eskimo campsites still preserved, fresh fish for breakfast, and the smell and feel of clean air and water are all crisp visions seared in my memory.
I also experienced how it felt to take my physical and emotional self to the edge of my comfort zone and then beyond and know that I would be alright. This trek was a journey of self-reliance,challenging my inner resolve to dig down and find the power within. A journey that inspired me, leaving in its wake an indelible reminder of how incredibly amazing life and this world is when we venture beyond the “trail less traveled” .