From Ireland to Juneau; One Adventure to the Next
By Tadhg Moore, University College of Cork
Over six thousand kilometers from home, I find myself in Southeast Alaska preparing to engage in a seven week expedition across the Juneau Icefield into British Columbia, Canada. So how on earth did I end up in this part of the world?
Well, I am currently a student of the University College of Cork (UCC) in Ireland studying Environmental Science and for my third year of study I was awarded the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship which gave me the opportunity to study at the University of Maine for a semester. I spent the fall semester there and had such a great time I asked to extend my stay so I got to include the spring semester. While I was there I made friends with Annie Boucher, who told me tales of her wild and exciting adventures of her summers spent in Alaska. I was enthralled but never thought I could do anything like that. She suggested that I apply and I didn’t have anything to lose. I sent in an application thinking that was as far as I was going to get and when I received the email informing me that I had been accepted, I literally jumped for joy; it was quite a memorable moment.
Then I began the mission of gathering the gear for this expedition. I started with nothing and through the generosity of my friends and some online shopping I managed to gather all the gear and get myself set for JIRP. One of my friends, Connor Bunn, let me borrow his gear but with it he carried a condition; I had told him I was travelling to Alaska, that I’d be flying from Boston to Seattle and then onto Juneau. His response was ‘No!’. He said that I would be missing out on the whole country by just flying over it, he wanted me to travel across by land and so the seed was planted to do a cross-country journey.
I began to formulate a plan as to how I was going to carry out this journey and I decided on hitchhiking as I had three and a half weeks and I thought it would be fun to see how far that would work. I ended up taking two trains, three buses and thirty-three rides with strangers and I arrived in Seattle the day before my flight. Before setting off I was really scared and nervous about how it was going to pan out but once I got going I became more confident and less afraid of what was to come. I really began to enjoy the idea of waking up in the morning and not knowing whether I would be travelling forty miles or four hundred miles and just meeting a variety of people who were kind enough to stop and give me a ride.
Now here in Juneau with thirty one other students from all across the USA, Canada and one from Switzerland it’s exciting again to be preparing myself for another adventure. Meeting new people, travelling to new places, learning new skills and expanding my knowledge about the natural world are some of the reasons that I am getting so excited to get out on the Icefield. But I also have a couple of fears and doubts such as learning to ski and just how physically intense the program will be but I’ve come to realize not to let them get in the way and to just embrace the challenges.
Now as I look out over Auke Lake, with the Mendenhall glacier looming behind, I feel ready to begin this adventure and curious to see where it will bring me.