It all seems so surreal now that I have returned home to Idaho. I already miss that river. 52 days of solo travel on the Yukon, as I made my way through Canada and Alaska, was one part adventure, one part emotional journey. It is indescribable, the vastness, remoteness and solitude of this wild landscape. Each day I became more acquainted with the all-encompassing aspects of the Yukon – its water, weather and wildlife and the unpredictable nature of these elements. Narrowed to my own thoughts and ideas, I quickly discovered that I had better make them good ones.
I was fortunate to be able to carve out the time, and create an opportunity to grieve the loss of my Father while fulfilling his dream. In times of doubt and weakness, my goal to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer kept me going. I had a simple mantra that would not let me fail: “prostate cancer is harder” and this truly propelled me through the tough times.
While focused on getting to the end of my journey and reaching the Bering Sea, and although I completed the river much sooner than I expected due to favorable weather conditions, I was able to truly experience the journey itself. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people of the First Nations, Athabascan, and Yupik villages along the Yukon – inviting me into their lives and homes, and introducing me to their culture and way of life. I experienced real human connections in this beautiful but often harsh landscape, both laughing and crying with people.
I cannot thank everyone enough for all of the support that I received while on my journey, and I am most thankful to the Yukon River for giving me safe passage over its spiritual waters. My advice: If you get the chance to be a pirate, go! You won’t regret it.