I’m pleased to say we completed our expedition to canoe the Sheenjek river on 23rd July which in the end took 13 days, during 12 of which we never saw another soul. It’s difficult to concisely sum up the expedition. It was certainly amazing but also challenging and even horrendous in places! Seeing rather massive grey wolves on two occasions stand out, as well as spotting moose, bald eagles, a golden eagle and numerous beavers. Starting our expedition in the Brooks mountain range and being in a region described as the most remote part of the United States of America was amazing (we were literally hundreds of miles from a road, trail or village). Seeing real and vast wilderness was amazing and humbling. I felt very fortunate to complete an expedition which maybe only a handful of others will do this year.
On the challenging front, the river was more difficult than we anticipated. Quite simply, the interior of Alaska can be an inhospitable place and it ultimately it becomes very clear why people don’t live there! Everything requires energy. The mosquitos were terrible for the first four or five days…they are truly difficult to describe, and I can now appreciate how they literally move the great herds. The best I can do is compare them to swarming midges in a damp remote glen in the Highlands but add in being stuck with them for days on end (whenever the wind dies down on or off the river) and add in the fact mosquitos can bite through t-shirts. Then add in near 30 degree heat when all you want to wear is a t shirt and shorts (but you can’t)…
Practical skills such as efficiency in camp and generally handling yourself outdoors were important. But so were resilience, patience and optimism. That’s not to say I was stoic the entire time because you have moments where fears creep in or you become frustrated but ultimately you have to remain positive and keeping your eye on the objective helps with this. I have no doubt being the parent of a child with PWS contributed to my resilience.
But ultimately it was an amazing adventure and experience which is still sinking in. There is a lot to be said about being ‘off line’ in our busy human world and this is something which will stay with me.
Plus myself and my father even came back on speaking terms ????
On another note, thanks to everyone who donated to nominated charity, FPWR UK, which raises money for research into Prader Willi Syndrome (PWS). Whilst Robyn suffers from PWS, there is a brighter future just around the corner thanks to research and the cumulative work of scientists and doctors over recent years. It was really good to get some media coverage and to publicise Robyn’s rare condition.