By Go Getter Ben Weaver
When I was 18 I spent 48 days in the Brooks Range of Alaska. That trip changed my life forever. Of all my adventures since, I have yet to face a more difficult reentry to society. I prefer survival inlace of merely living. It was while in the Brooks Range some 15 years ago that I learned the difference between these two.
Living is what most of us do back home when we are surrounded by the daily conveniences of cars, air conditioners, restaurants, the internet. Our struggle lies in the privilege of choices. Deciding between which convenience we prefer on any given day. I don’t like this way of life. I find it stifles my humanness, boxes up my sense of wildness and vitality. I prefer to be in the elements, to think about where I will get my food, how to stay warm and dry, to be present and aware. Surviving demands this, living allows those instincts to rest dormant. There is no greater reward in my book than having to use your body, mind and energy to navigate a self supported day.
This July I went back to Alaska. I had not been back since that Brooks Range trip. My partner Amy and I, with friends Bjorn Olson and Kim Mcnett completed a route between Seward and Homer which had previously not been traveled using fat bikes and pack rafts. Look for more about that trip in the spring when we release a film about it.
At the end of our trip we had a few extra days. With as much time in the back country as our goal we left bikes in Homer and took a water taxi across Kachemak Bay to explore the state park and Grewingk Glacier. We spent three days hiking, picking blueberries and paddling the icy grey waters in our pack rafts. One evening we were out on Grewingk Lake paddling among the many chunks of floating ice which had broken off the toe of the Grewingk Glacier quietly receding in the distance just over the bows of our boats. I dipped my cup in the water and drank directly from the lake. As the cold silty water made its way down my throat I realized what I was drinking. The beginning of a waterway. Thousands of years of ground up rock. Melted ice that held memories of sunlight and passing birds older than I could imagine.
These profound moments of finding ones place in the order of the natural world, that is why I seek wilderness and human powered travel. Again and again I am reminded what is important. Not physical things but physical connection. To the land, our bodies and our spirits. To go where we gotta go.