Erin Mckittrick isn’t afraid of a little hardship. In 2007, along with her partner Hig, she travelled the 4000 miles from Seattle, Washington to the Aleutian islands, Alaska using only non-motorized transport. Pioneers of “packrafting”, they used small inflatable rafts to ferry themselves and supplies along the coast , and hiked or skied many thousands of miles through remote terrain to reach their goal. By the end of the journey, Erin discovered she was pregnant, and stage two of their adventurous life had begun. The duo have a greater purpose than just adventure in their outings; they formed the nonprofit organization Ground Truth Trekking as a vehicle to bring awareness to critical environmental issues, and use their expeditions to visit and talk about habitat that is on the verge of being impacted by coal mining and other human endeavors. For them, having children couldn’t stop their expeditions. Their larger goal was too important.
In the summer of 2010, they spent a month travelling along the Chuckchi Sea. Erin was 6 months pregnant with their second child during the journey, and carried their toddler, Katmai, on her back as they bushwhacked through thick brush and climbed scree slopes. Bear tracks, and the bear that made them, feature heavily in the video clip, and I can’t help but shiver a little when Katmai stands alongside the giant tracks in the sand. But a larger part of me envies Katmai; he will grow up with physical knowledge of a wild and untamed landscape, and his earliest memories will be of sitting with his parents under the stars, watching them passionately pursue their dreams for a better world.
On September 15, they are leaving for their next big expedition. For two months, they will be living on the ice of the Malaspina Glacier with a 7 month old baby and a 2 year old. They will have to carry all their supplies with them, as they are too far out for resupply stops other than a few plane drops. They will have to watch for grizzlies and extreme weather, as well as maintaining the basic needs of the family. Among it all, they will investigate the impact of global warming on this fragile ecosystem.
Read more about their journey and other stories from the family expeditions here.
Or, check out their book about their amazing journey north.