Endurance adventurer Andrew Skurka (28) is tackling yet another epic journey – skiing, rafting and hiking a continuous 7,500 km circuit through Alaska and the Yukon.
Five weeks ago, on March 15th, he set off from Kotzebue, a small Alaskan city that borders the Bering Sea and sits 50 km north of the Arctic Circle.From here Skurka’s route will go through four US national parks and two Canadian ones and is expected to take about 200 days.
To say Skurka is a seasoned hiker is putting it mildly.He has trekked over 37,000 km in pristine wilderness areas of Alaska, Iceland, the Colorado Plateau, and California.He zipped along the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Great Western Route, Sea to Sea Route and Colorado Trail.He finished second in the world-famous Leadville endurance trail race, but most of the time Skurka is competing with just himself.National Geographic named him Adventurer of the Year and Person of the Year by Backpacker.This is definitely not the type of amble described in Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”.
In the last month Skurka has skied 1,150 km, reaching the tiny village of McGrath, Alaska on April 13th.
Andrew describes the stretch he’s done so far as one he “probably wouldn’t do again” primarily because “there were a few too many miles on icy snowmachine trails though unspectacular scenery, and a surprising non-wilderness feel”. That doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy it and he talks about the pros, visiting welcoming villages, experiencing new landscapes and my personal favourite, developing “new thresholds for cold”.
The route turns off-trail now and will require forging rivers and finding game tracks.In the next 6 weeks he’ll be travelling across the western Alaska Range (including Denali National Park), eastern Alaska Range (“Hayes Range”),Mentasta Mountains, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park to the Gulf of Alaska.Soon he’ll be trading his skis in for hiking boots and a raft, which will make up about 75% of his journey.
You can follow Andrew through his blog at National Geographic Adventure, http://ngadventure.typepad.com/blog/andrew-skurka/ and find out more about his Alaska-Yukon Adventure through his website, http://www.andrewskurka.com/.