Trepid No More
By Laura Walls, Expedition Leader on the Safari Endeavour
Bushwhacking is one of the most mentally challenging and exciting activities that UnCruise offers. It is challenging in that you must figure out where to put your feet so you don’t fall down a mossy hole up to your thigh. Challenging in that you need to bend down under an alder branch but avoid the devil’s club. Challenging, too, in that sometimes the only way forward is straight up or straight down a steep, seemingly slippery mossy cliff.
Bushwhacking requires you to help your fellow whackers around you by lending a stable hand and, even more unnerving for many, asking for a hand to help you. It’s engaging, thought-provoking, and stimulating. It humbles yet empowers. It forms strong bonds of inclusivity among groups who start out as strangers and end as family. Bushwhacking is so much fun.
Alaska is portrayed, and therefore feels like, a large, wild beast that is wholly unlike anywhere in the lower 48. This is an especially true perspective of a trepid adventurer who wants to be daring and free but feels doubt about their personal abilities. As the week goes on, the trepid adventurer rises above their uncertainty to join a bushwhack. During the bear and group safety guidelines, one can see the wide round eyes of hesitation. The first steps into the trail-less wild tangle of an old- or second-growth forest are stiff and uncertain.
Amongst this uncertainty comes the first mossy false bottom, or a downed tree trunk disintegrating under foot, or the brush grabbing hair or clothing causing an adrenaline rush and a moment of panic. Luckily for the trepid adventurer, the fellow bushwhackians are right there to offer helping hands.
These instances always provoke laughter and conversation. Soon the group is comfortable in pointing out potential pitfalls to each other, creating the friendly chatter and family atmosphere developed on these bushwhacks.
The group begins to morph from unknown individuals to one cohesive unit. The trepid adventurer is now, simply, and adventurer. After three hours of contorting our bodies through the forest, we appear on a beach again to breathe a sigh of relief as we see our skiff waiting to take us back to our floating home. Adventure complete. Fears abated. Self-esteem soaring. Trepid no more.