Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Great Alaskan-Yukon Loop

If it were coming from anyone but Andrew Skurka, you'd dismiss the proposed "Great Alaskan-Yukon Loop" as sheer fantasy. But Skurka, whose accomplishments include a 6,875-mile trek around the American West (2007) and a 7,778-mile trek across the continent (2004-05), has the experience and determination to just-maybe pull this one off. Here's how he describes this ski-raft-hiking odyssey on his website:

"The Great Alaskan-Yukon Loop (GAYL) is a 4,500-mile wilderness adventure around the state of Alaska and the Canadian territory of Yukon that connects many of this region's most magnificent natural features, including the Alaska Range, Wrangell's, Lost Coast, Coast Range, Yukon River, Richardson Mountains, and finally the Brooks Range. The GAYL is not an official trail or route; it has never been completed, attempted, and possibly even conceived of until now; it is almost entirely off-trail and it crosses only about 10 roads for its entire length."

He continues:

"In March 2010 I will begin the GAYL in the village of Kotzebue, located on the Chukchi Sea in northwestern Alaska. I will ski south to join the historic Iditarod Trail, which I'll follow southeast into the Alaska Range. Spring will arrive as I am traversing this range, which is home to North America's tallest mountain, Mt. McKinley. Near the eastern end of this range I will begin packrafting the Copper River and its tributaries towards the ocean. After several hundred miles along the rugged Lost Coast, I will trek the historic Chilkoot Pass Trail from the Inside Passage to the Yukon River, which I will float to Dawson City. A route through the Ogilvie Mountains, down the Miner River, and through the Richardson Mountains will link me into the eastern edge of the Brooks Range, which I will finish traversing just before Fall finally succumbs to Winter again."

Mind blowing. Who knows if this is possible, or if Skurka will even find the resources to attempt it. But this sort of uncertainty is the nature of real adventure.

By the way, Skurka is looking for a better name for his project. Leave a comment with your suggestion, or you can post it directly at his website.

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