“In the summer of 1927, Lillian Alling, a young Russian immigrant, homesick and compelled to perform menial tasks for a living in New York, made up her mind to go back to her homeland in Europe. Because she had no money for transportation, she decided to hike back to her native country. She tramped to Chicago, to Minneapolis, to Winnipeg, refusing all invitations to ride. She was next seen on the Yukon Telegraph Trail in the northern part of British Columbia, Canada, a small pack on her back and a length of iron pipe in her hand for protection, heading towards Alaska. The provincial police at Hazelton prevented her from making a journey through the Canadian wilds, but they were able to detain her only until spring. Starting out again, she hiked along the Telegraph Trail, over the wild mountain passes, finally reaching Dawson where she worked as a cook, purchased and repaired a boat, and in the spring of 1929, launched it into the waters of the Yukon River right behind the outgoing ice reaching a point east of Seward Peninsula. She abandoned the boat for overland travel, reaching Nome and later Bering Strait. She was last heard bartering with the Eskimos for boat passage across the Strait to Asia.”
An excerpt from “The New Way of the Wilderness” by Calvin Rutstrum. I love these stories of adventure and determination. Although there was no record of her making it safely back home across the Bering Strait, what I find most fascinating is the ability of traveling great distances on foot, a once necessary means of travel as a nomadic way of living for survival before our ways of agriculture. These amazingly engineered structures with tens of thousands of nerve endings in constant communication with our brains, coordinating balance and stability. Three percent of our body holding up and moving the other entire ninety-seven percent. With twenty six bones and 107 ligaments holding every piece and part together in each foot, a delicate orchestra of movement and fluidity as legs and arms go swinging. Our first main defense against gravity, a miracle for the ability to walk a few feet….. let alone a few thousand miles.