Getting Out, Giving Back


It’s been a busy summer season in Denali; a season that feels defined by too much work and not enough sleep, punctuated with trail runs and midnight sunset bike rides. Many days I’m not sure which was is up and which is down. But one thing is certain: I feel like I’ve barely have a minute to breath. In the midst of this hustle and bustle (the days are long but the season is short), I am pleased to announce a project that I’m truly looking forward to, and a definite chance to slow down and breath: my upcoming fundraising trip for The Cairn Project.

This non-profit is dedicated to getting teen and pre-teen girls active in nature, a cause that is near and dear to me. Having suffered depression and anxiety in my teen years and early adulthood, it’s easy for me to locate a turning point in my life and mental health--It came around the time I started living for the outdoors. There is no doubt that time in nature is medicine as I have discussed in previous posts, and I hope that my work with The Cairn Project will provide girls who might be in a tough place during their teen years an opportunity to appreciate nature while learning, growing, and becoming strong in the outdoors.

I am also hopeful that The Cairn Project’s grants will help to grow our next generation of environmental stewards. I have been inspired by my time in the outdoors and in wilderness to be more passionate about conservation, and I can only hope that getting girls out into our public lands for recreation will spark the same passion in them. I believe that women have the heart, the strength, and the compassion to change the world, and this next generation of young women will be crucial to protecting our environment as we know it.

While dreaming up my fundraising trip for The Cairn Project, I knew I wanted to focus on the importance of women in the outdoors, and highlight their impact on conservation and outdoor culture. For this reason, I chose the Arctic Refuge for my trip location. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was set aside largely thanks to Mardy Murie, the grandmother of conservation and one of my personal heroes. I hoped to trace Mardy’s steps in the Arctic Refuge, but due to time constraints and work, will be traveling just west of the area the Muries spent most of their time in the Refuge. The Refuge is one of our last vast expanses of untouched ecosystem in North America and is home to incredible wildlife, including a herd of caribou 150,000 strong. It is also home to the Gwich’in people, who have thrived on this land for thousands of years. As I explore the Brooks Range of the Refuge, I hope to have an opportunity to begin to understand its importance and attempt to share it with others through photography and writing. The Arctic Refuge needs our attention now more than ever, as its coastal flood plains are in danger of being opened to drilling under the current administration.

My trip will span 7 days of travel, totaling somewhere around 115 miles. I will walk up rivers and over passes, across tussocks and under the shadows of mountains. I will eventually find my way to the Ribdon River, where I will float down to the Sag and eventually the Haul Road, before returning home to Denali. 

This trip has a few simple goals: to raise money and draw awareness to The Cairn Project, to raise awareness for the sanctity of the Arctic Refuge, and to remind people of the importance of women in wilderness. I have set a fundraising goal of $5,000, all of which will go directly to the Cairn Project and their efforts to support young girls in the outdoors. Please consider donating by clicking here.

Thank you for considering the importance of this work. 



A huge thanks to my sponsors and supporters for this trip: Alpacka Raft, Seek Outside, Wild Ideas, Werner Paddles, and Kokatat. Your support is greatly appreciated! 

emily sullivanComment