2016 Undergraduate Awards

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In the summer of 2013 alone, twelve hikers had to be air-rescued off the remote Stampede Trail in the Northern Alaskan wilderness. The route is not particularly accessible or particularly beautiful, and it covers twenty-two miles of soggy, bug-infested, beaver-ponds and muskeg. Throughout the year, powerful rivers of glacial snow-melt cross the path; only in the winter and early spring is it even remotely safe or easy to follow the trail. In her 2013 essay “Chasing Alexander Supertramp,” Eva Holland quotes one Alaskan woman who, shaking her head, pronounced “of all the places you could hike in Alaska…” Yet each year, hundreds of people regularly hike the Stampede Trail. Despite risking, and occasionally losing, their lives crossing the swollen Teklanika river, they continue trekking through the bush with an attitude that borders on religious fervor.


Image: "Magic Bus" by Laurent DUPONT. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.