(Photograph by Bob Burnett)
Under Human Power
"Life has taught me the importance of balancing my innermost dreams with daily service to community and Mother Earth". ~Darrell J. Gardner
As a registered nurse, I am reminded daily of life’s brevity. Patients have often shared with me their regrets of dreams unrealized…that life without balance has a steep price. This awareness became personalized when my father passed away early in his retirement. His death brought into focus my life-long dream…a single expedition that would challenge me to use all my outdoor experiences. Being in nature allows me to reach that innermost point of balance by becoming part of its rhythm. Traveling Under Human Power rejuvenates my soul and gives me a perspective like no other.
In 2008, I will sea kayak the entire Inside Passage, 1,400 miles. This is just one stage of the expedition where hiking, kayaking, canoeing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing will propel me over 5,700 contiguous miles, Under Human Power, from Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. That is the Quest!
STAGE I - THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL - CA, OR & WA - 2,650 miles
2004 & 2005: I hiked solo the entire length of the United States from Mexico to Canada. Taking over five million steps.
STAGE II - "THE BRIDGE" - WA - 250 miles
2006: I connected the land to the sea via the Pacific Northwest Trail & the Skagit River. Hiking over the snow covered passes of the Northern Cascade Mountain’s, I followed the summer run off down the Skagit River by canoe into the Puget Sound.
STAGE III - THE INSIDE PASSAGE - WA, BC & AK - 1,400 miles
2008-2009: Facing one of my most serious challenges, I solo sea kayaked up the Inside Passage from Seattle, WA to Skagway, AK.
STAGE IV - THE YUKON RIVER – AK, BC & YT - 900 miles
2010: This summer I will access the interior of Alaska by hiking the Chilkoot Trail to the head waters of the Yukon River. Then I will travel by canoe as the Yukon flows NW through northern British Columbia, the Yukon Territory and back into Alaska to it's most northern point at Fort Yukon, Alaska.
STAGES V & VI - THE BROOKS RANGE and THE ARCTIC OCEAN - AK - 500 miles
2011: The final push! In the spring, I will snowshoe and cross country ski to the top the Brooks Range near Atigun Pass. In the summer, I will return to traverse the peaks of the Gates of the Arctic NP and connect with a tributary of the Colville River at the village of Anaktuvuk Pass. This tributary is part of the Colville River drainage and flows down the north slope of the Brooks Range to Alaska's Arctic coast. The Colville river meets the Arctic Ocean near Oliktok Point about 40 miles west of Prudhoe Bay.