How a canoe trip changed my life


I don’t know how I convinced my parents
to let me spend all of my university money On a 49-day canoe trip in the
Northwest Territories But I did! It meant having to spend every cent of money that we had saved up until then
for my university education. That meant no money for my first year. No money for residence.
No money for books. No money for tuition. And I bargained a bit with my parents,
trying to convince them. I’m going to learn so much about the world. I’m going to grow as a person.
It’s going to change my life. And in the end it was absolutely true. It completely changed my life. That trip was the first time that
I saw Arctic tundra. It was the first time I saw caribou. Not just one caribou, but hundreds of caribou. It was the first time that I pushed myself
to get through every day. It was the first time I went without
fruit and vegetables for over four weeks. Because you get them at the beginning…
then you just run out of them. I think seeing the beautiful simplicity
of Arctic tundra, then looking closer and realizing how
complex it really was, made me realize how challenging and difficult
a career in ecology would be. Before leaving for that trip, I had been
very much on an engineering track. I was taking three different courses in math. I was convinced I was going to become
the next robotics engineer. It hadn’t occurred to me you could
reach that same depth of knowledge out on the land, as you could trying to figure out
a really complicated physics problem. One of the incredible things
about Arctic tundra is that it’s such a beautiful landscape, but fundamentally, there are only maybe
ten species that you are looking at. Those ten species have to interact
with one another in incredibly complex and co-dependent ways. One of those species being impacted
by climate change, or being lost due to some sort of
human development, will throw all of the other nine
completely out of whack. That trip made me realize how much I loved,
not just being outside, but also understanding outside. Learning about nature. Studying nature. Understanding how things connect
on the ground. On day 49, when we got to Kugluktuk, the first thing I did was call my parents
and thank them for letting me go on that trip. That trip changed my life.
It changed my career. And I’m so grateful that I had that opportunity to go up North and see those
spaces for myself.

3 thoughts on “How a canoe trip changed my life

  1. excellent and inspiring account of the beautiful complexity of nature, and the intrigue we feel trying to understand it

  2. Learning about nature and traveling our country is so very important.  I do a lot of nature adventures all over the world and love it.  Congratulation on choosing your adventures….

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