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

  • 06:00 PM

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

Unlimited Adventure

With Caroline Van Hemert

Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program begins at 6 p.m.

Vail Interfaith Chapel | Vail


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.”
Caroline Van Hemert is an Alaskan writer, adventurer and wildlife biologist whose journeys have taken her from the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean to the swamps of the Okavango Delta. She is the author of “The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds,” the gripping story of a biologist’s journey from Washington State to high above the Arctic Circle
to rediscover birds, the natural world and her own love of science. She recently received the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition award for Adventure Travel. Her writing has also been featured in the New York Times, Audubon, Los Angeles Times and Outside.
She received a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and an M.A. in creative writing from Western Washington University and has worked for various universities, NGOs and government
agencies. She is currently a research biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science
Center and studies wildlife health in the north. When she’s not traveling, she divides her time
between a remote off-the-grid cabin in southeast Alaska and a cozy home in downtown
Anchorage, where she lives with her husband and two young sons.
This program is underwritten by Mary Pat & Keith Rapp and is presented in partnership with the Vail Public Library

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