Into the Unknown
Five years ago and on my way to Alaska. No cell service. No GPS. No plan.
I can’t say the fabulous line, “Anything that could go wrong, did,” but, I can say that the one thing that did go wrong ended up being one of my most treasured and lifelong memories...
I was looking for a place to rest and pulled off some random little road. The Yukon isn’t like America where you have to somewhat know where you’re going to find the free and quiet places to camp for the night. It’s much more feral than that. It’s untouched and easy to disappear. America is like a wild animal caged in the zoo compared to the Yukon...The Yukon is still untamed and owned by the wild. Even the trails you come across are most likely made by animals, not humans.
So, I made it to a lake that seemed to be drying up - it was surrounded by sand. It was beautiful and quiet. It was almost eerie that nobody was around...no footprints in the sand...a place this beautiful would be speckled with people in the states...but it was empty, and felt like a place you could only go in a dream.
I set up my tent, wrote, took pictures, explored. I was getting set up to start cooking and wanted to change the direction the van was parked so the door would open up to the pretty view of the lake...but when I put the foot on the gas, instead of moving forward or backward, I started digging deeper and deeper into the sand. I was stuck. I didn’t have cell service to call anyone. Nobody was around to ask for help. And my heart rate skyrocketed. Scenes from Castaway flashed before my eyes.
Finally, after I calmed down a bit, a memory from living in Colorado came to me...I was the girl with the Texas license plate who couldn’t get her 2-wheel drive Accord out of the snow. Every direction I turned the wheel, kept digging my tires deeper into the slush. A local found me and had a piece of cardboard - he slid it in the crevice between the tire and the snow pit. Just like that, a piece of cardboard moved a 3,000 pound car.
I had an empty shipping box with me. I used it for packaging bracelets back then. I also had my backpacking poop shovel to dig under the tire in order to slide the cardboard as far under as I could get before more sand fell back into place.
Before the moment of truth, I took my tent down, and packed everything back up, so I could just keep going if I were to escape. I jumped in the drivers seat, considered that too much gas would have me driving over the cardboard and back into the sand, and not enough gas would dig me deeper into a hole. I had one chance to get it right, and went for it. I got out! I felt like I had cheated death.
That experience was not on the map. It wasn’t in the plan. And had I known it was going to happen, I probably wouldn’t have gone down that road. However, because it did, I took with me a trust in the unknown and a willingness to keep going when I don’t know what’s ahead. And that has been the most valuable gift that has expanded my world of art, adventure, and life.
Sometimes you can’t see where you’re going until it’s right in front of you.