Friday, May 26, 2006

"Being Caribou"

One would think that with all the time we spend in such an incredibly beautiful and often quiet place, that moments of reflection would come while we are out in the mountains and wilderness. Sometimes that happens. And sometimes, like last night, sitting on our couch, shades drawn to keep out the late-evening sun, I had one of those moments watching the documentary "Being Caribou."

"Being Caribou" tracks the journey of two young Canadians -- Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison -- as they follow the porcupine caribou herd on its annual migration from Old Crow, Yukon, to the winter calving grounds on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Karsten and Leanne travelled alone, on skis and foot, for 5 months and over 1500 km. They lived among, and filmed, the caribou, as well as bears, wolverines, fox, squirrels, and other arctic creatures. As they grew emotionally attached to these incredible animals, migrating on the paths they have migrated on for thousands of years over vast tracks of undeveloped, unspoiled, pristine earth, I couldn't help but get tugged in myself.

I won't share any more details of the film -- you should all watch it yourselves. You can order it from their website (or borrow it from us if you're in Anchorage) --

"Being Caribou" did not affect me in a way that makes me want to go on a long, wild adventure (I already have that bug). It reminded me that there are pristine, incredible places left on this planet, and it would be ridiculously short-sighted and selfish of us to take them for a little bit of oil. It reminded me that we should be humble because we share this planet with creatures who have a memory of these places older than humans have been here. It reminded me that we who enjoy these beautiful places have a responsibility to protect them. It reminded me how important it is to choose a path that is purposeful and of service to others and our planet.

Those are my thoughts. I'd love to hear yours.

Thanks to our new friend Eric for sharing Being Caribou with us! We'll be sure to share it with other friends!


Blogger Aaron Ostrovsky said...

One thing I really enjoyed about the film was watching the two slowly get in synch with their surroundings over the course of the walk.

Both Karsten and Leanne are experienced outdoors people who already had large-scale projects under their belt when they attempted the caribou walk.

But you could see how this journey affected them mentally - not just watching them break down from exhaustion but watching how they slowly became more at peace with losing the herd, running out of food, getting eaten by bugs. It made me appreciate how meaningful it is when you can engage the landscape - not just being "on" the land but "in" it.

You don't have to walk across Northern Canada to get that feeling but you do have to step outside yourself. Whether that is accomplished by pushinging yourself physically or facing fearful situations in the wild country, its something all of us should take time to do once in awhile. (The film reminded me I have to take time out to do it more.)

9:48 AM  

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