Episode 9 | Author Caroline Van Hemert on 4,000 Miles Across the Arctic
Podcast Sponsor: REI
This podcast has been made by possible by the generous support of REI. Please consider supporting Backpacking Light and REI by using the affiliate link below to shop at REI. We receive a small commission if you end up placing an order if you use the link, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
In this episode, we talk to Alaskan writer, biologist, and adventurer Caroline Van Hemert. Caroline is an ornithologist who, along with her husband Pat, undertook a 4,000-mile human-powered journey from Bellingham Washington to Kotzebue, a small town high above the arctic circle.
Caroline’s written a book about her journey, The Sun is a Compass. The book weaves together a lot of threads: the path Caroline’s life took to get to the start of her journey, her relationship with her husband, her life as a scientist, her feelings about motherhood: it’s a great read.
Our interview covers all that and more. So sit back, relax, and enjoy our conversation with Caroline Van Hemert.
- Andrew introduces the subject of their interview: Caroline Van Hemert.
- Andrew tries to digest the scope of Caroline’s journey.
- Where Caroline grew up and how she found herself on long adventures.
- A German word for “restless need to migrate”.
- Finding parallels between birds and humans
- Trip logistics.
- What was Caroline most worried about, and did those fears pan out?
- The challenges of trip planning, even with modern tools.
- Advice for planning similar routes.
- Lean on local contacts!
- What makes an elegant route?
- Breaking down the different modes of human-powered transportation.
- Rowing, skiing, hiking, packrafting, and canoeing.
- Which of these things did Caroline enjoy the most?
- Caroline recommends training strategies for trips with a variety of physical demands.
- What was her low point, and how did she overcome it?
- Arctic biting insects
- Peeing in a food dish
- Cooking methods.
- Indispensable gear.
- Sacrificing gear for weight considerations.
- Conflict, outdoor partnerships, and risk management.
- The pros and cons of adventuring with a romantic partner
- Listening to intuitions vs. pushing forward
- The perils of missing out on life events
- The gifts that the wilderness gives us.
- Career decisions
- Motherhood and adventuring
- Advice for parents
- The writing process
- Advice for adventure writers
Feedback, Questions, Tips?
- Backpacking Light – Executive Producer
- Ryan Jordan – Director and Host
- Andrew Marshall – Producer, Writer, Host, and Editor
- Special Thanks — Caroline Van Hemert
- Look for Me in the Mountains – Music
Support the Podcast
- This episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast is supported by Backpacking Light membership fees. Please consider becoming a member which helps support projects like this podcast, in addition to a whole slew of other benefits!
- In addition, some of the links on this page may be affiliate links that refer to our partner merchant retailers. If you follow a link and then make a purchase, we receive a small commission which goes a long way towards helping us pay for podcast production, hosting, and bandwidth fees! Thanks for supporting us in this way!
You can contact us at [email protected], or follow us on social media –
- Backpacking Light – Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
- Andrew Marshall – Instagram | Twitter | WWW
- Ryan Jordan – Instagram | Twitter | WWW
- We do not accept money or in-kind compensation for guaranteed media coverage: Backpacking Light does not accept compensation or donated product in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage.
- Affiliate links: Some (but not all) of the links in this review may be “affiliate” links, which means if you click on a link to one of our affiliate partners (usually a retailer site), and subsequently make a purchase with that retailer, we receive a small commission. This helps us fund our editorial projects, podcasts, instructional webinars, and more, and we appreciate it a lot! Thank you for supporting Backpacking Light!