2020 Unlimited Adventure

The Sun is a Compass: A Human-Powered Adventure Across Alaska

Event Date Thu Feb 6, 2020
Event Time 6 PM
Vail Interfaith Chapel19 Vail Road

If you’ve ever imagined taking off for “van life,” here’s your chance to hear about an amazing journey – sans the van. Travel alongside birds, bears, and caribou and discover the wonder of Alaska’s wild lands via a 4,000-mile human-powered journey to the Arctic.

During graduate school, as she conducted experiments on the peculiarly misshapen beaks of black-capped chickadees, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert began to feel stifled in the isolated, sterile environment of the lab and increasingly distanced from the natural world. Embracing the concept of Zugunruhe—migratory restlessness typically described in birds in springtime—she launched with her husband on a journey from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic. For six months, they traveled by rowboat, ski, foot, raft and canoe across some of the wildest places left in North America. The pair survived spring storms, predatory bears and hordes of mosquitoes, while also experiencing incredible moments of joy and grace: a trumpeter swan bathing on an icefield, moose swimming in the Arctic Ocean and thousands of caribou on their fall migration.

During this special presentation, Van Hemert will present images, film and readings from her recently released book, “The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds.”

This program is underwritten by Mary Pat & Keith Rapp and is presented in partnership with the Vail Public Library


Caroline Van Hemert

Caroline Van Hemert


“The Sun is a Compass"