November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

EXPEDITION: Journey on the Wild Coast (Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman)

Erin and Hig travel by foot, packraft, and skis, 4000 miles from Puget Sound to the Bering Sea

Print Jump to Reader Comments

by Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman | 2008-06-24 00:05:00-06

Journey on the Wild Coast - 1

Journey on the Wild Coast - 2
Erin McKittrick

Journey on the Wild Coast - 3
Bretwood Higman

About the Trek

Erin McKittrick and Hig Higman will be celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary on the trail somewhere near Bellingham, Washington this year. They will be less than two weeks into a human powered journey that will continue through three-quarters of their fifth year together. Months long treks in harsh terrain are nothing new for them, but the Journey to the Wild Coast takes their adventures to a new level.

They begin June 9th from their Seattle, Washington home and end nine months later on a small island in Alaska's Aleutian chain. No one has done this before. Why are they going? They obviously love their Alaskan adventures, but this trip has a greater goal. They plan to focus attention on environmental issues along their route and bring understanding of these issues to a personal level. Their oral and written descriptions, photos and videos will allow those of us following their journey from our computers to "see" the lands they are traveling through; to witness things like salmon farming, mining, logging and global warming from ground (and sea) level.

Hig and Erin will be checking in frequently with live audio updates, GPS positions, photos and videos so we can follow them step by step along their route.

Visit their webiste Ground Truth Trekking as well as the sister site

Interview Podcasts

Carol Crooker and Ken Knight interview Erin and Hig about several aspects of the Journey on the Wild Coast hike. Throughout the course of the trek Backpacking Light will release these interviews via both the The Wild Coast Journey and Backpacking Light Magazine podcast feeds.

Subscribe to Backpacking Light Magazine podcasts via:

Podcasts are also syndicated through's Main RSS Feed along with other online content.


Subscribe to Erin and Hig’s Wild Coast Journey Podcasts via:


Journey on the Wild Coast - Part 1, Goals and Overview.Carol Crooker talks with Erin McKittrick and Bretwood (Hig) Higman about their upcoming 4000 miles journey along the Pacific Coast from Seattle to the tip of the Aleutian Islands chain.

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast, Part 1

Journey on the Wild Coast - Packrafting.Carol Crooker talks with Erin and Hig about packrafting and how their journey along the wild coast has gone so far.

MP3 File
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Packrafting

Journey on the Wild Coast - SurvivalCarol Crooker catches up with Erin and Hig in Bella Bella, British Columbia. They discuss the nature of risk, the place of people in the world, and how to best get along and have some fun along the way.

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Survival of the Fittest?

Journey on the Wild Coast - Wilderness and PeopleHow has the wilderness changed throughout the trip, how does the country Erin and Hig are passing through affect the people who live in it, how does it affect people far away? These are just some things they talk about with Carol Crooker.

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Wilderness and People

Journey on the Wild Coast - Cooking and FoodWhat do Erin and Hig eat on this journey and how do they cook it. How do they handle resupply when town are often quite small and quite far apart. Carol Crooker finds out..

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Food Choices and Preparation

Journey on the Wild Coast - Outer Coast ChallengesErin and Hig hole up at Icy Bay Lodge around Thanksgiving having braved storms, ice, and wonderful scenery as they work their way along Alaska's Outer Coast.

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Outer Coast Challenges

Journey on the Wild Coast - Outer Coast Challenges ContinueErin and Hig finally reach Cordova, Alaska. The Outer Coast was as challenging as erin and Hig anticipated, often in surprising ways.

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Outer Coast Challenges Continue

Journey on the Wild Coast - Hot Beds and JournalismPart 1 of 2
Erin and Hig discuss their travels from Cordova to Valdz. Topics include: making hot gravel beds with fire, use the the packrafts as a longboat, how they capture some of the splendid video and photo imagery it has been our pleasure to view, and much more.

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Hot Beds and Journalism

Journey on the Wild Coast - Long Boat and Gear RepairPart 2 of 2
Ken Knight concludes his interview with Erin and Hig as they spend a few days in Valdez, Alaska. Delving further into the longboat, gear repair, keeping feet healthy, and what they expect next, are the main topics of discussion.

Download MP3
Companion article: Journey on the Wild Coast—Long Boat and Gear Repair

Follow Along

Follow Erin and Hig's progress using the interactive map below.

Latest Blogs

You can read Erin and Hig’s latest blog entries here.

Audio and Video Updates

From time to time Erin and Hig are sending us audio and video postcards from his hike. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes feed. The entries are also listed here sorted newest to oldest.

Audio Updates


June 16, 2008Calling from False Pass, AK.

Download MP3

June 11, 2008Calling from Cold Bay, AK.

Download MP3

May 12, 2008Calling from Port Heiden, AK.

Download MP3

May 3, 2008.Calling from Ugashik, AK.

Download MP3

April 21, 2008.Calling from Igiugig, AK.

Download MP3/a>

April 16, 2008.

Calling from South Naknek, AK.

Download MP3

March 28, 2008.Calling from Kokhanok, AK.

Download MP3

March 21, 2008.Calling from Pedro Bay, AK.

Download MP3

March 18, 2008.Calling from Illamna, AK

Download MP3

March 11, 2008.Calling from Nondalton, AK.

Download MP3

March 8, 2008.Calling from Port Alsworth, AK.

Download MP3

February 21, 2008.Calling from Beluga, AK.

Download MP3

February 13, 2008.Calling from Anchorage, AK.

Download MP3

January 23, 2008.Calling from Palmer AK.


January 14, 2008.Calling from Mendeltna creek lodge 20 miles east of Eureka Roadhouse, AK.

Download MP3

December 29, 2007.Calling from Valdez, AK.

Download MP3

December 15, 2007.Calling from Cordova, AK.

Download MP3

November 28, 2007.Calling from Cape Yakataga, AK.

Download MP3

November 22, 2007.Calling from Icy Bay, AK.

Download MP3

November 6, 2007.Calling from Yakutat, AK.

Download MP3

October 17, 2007.Calling from Excursion Inlet, AK.

Download MP3

October 9, 2007.Calling from Juneau, AK.

Download MP3

September 28, 2007.Calling from Petersburg, Alaska.

Download MP3

September 24, 2007.Calling from Wrangell, Alaska.

Download MP3

September 4, 2007.Calling from Ketchikan, Alaska.

Download MP3

August 25, 2007.Calling from Prince Rupert, BC.

Download MP3

August 19, 2007.Calling from Hartley Bay, British Columbia.

Download MP3

August 10, 2007.Calling from Klemtu (also spelled Klemtoo), BC.

Download MP3

August 7, 2007.Calling from Bella Bella, BC.

Download MP3

July 31, 2007.Calling from Dawson's Landing, BC

Download MP3

July 30, 2007.Calling from Duncanby Landing, BC.

Download MP3

July 23, 2007.Calling from Sullivan Bay, North Broughton Island, BC.

Download Download MP3

July 9, 2007.Calling from Campbell River, BC.

Download MP3

July 6, 2007.Calling from Egmont, British Columbia.

Download MP3

June 29, 2007.Calling from Cypress Provincial Park (just north of Vancouver), BC.

Download MP3

June 27, 2007.Calling from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Download MP3

June 19, 2007.Calling from La Conner, WA.

Download MP3

June 17, 2007.Calling from Darrington, WA (11:22PM).

Download MP3

June 14, 2007.Calling from Skykomish, WA.

Download MP3

June 11, 2007.Calling from Duvall, WA.

Download MP3

June 9, 2007.Calling from Kenmore, WA

Download MP3

Video Updates

December 27, 2007 through January 13, 2008.

Erin and Hig's first couple of weeks after leaving Valdez, Alaska takethem through dense forests, open wind whipped terrain, along canyons and creeks, all through the deep winter snows.

November 28 through December 23, 2007.

Follow Erin and Hig along the Outer Coast through seas, ice covered sand, snow bound forests, and much more. In this video they travel from Yakataga through Cordova to Valdez, Alaska.

November 7 through 24, 2007.From Yakutat to across Icy Bay follow Erin and Hig along fjords, through passages in front of Glaciers, along mud flats, eroding beaches, and past remarkable scenery and wildlife.

October 23 through November 2, 2007.Along the Open Coast from the Dixon River to Yakutat, Alaska. Big wves, big sand, big bears, big sea life, and much more.

October 13 through 22, 2007.From Juneau to the Brady Galcier follow Erin and Hig along bear trails, past sea lion colonies, along roads, and much more.

September 26 through October 5, 2007.Sea lions, birds, and whales, oh my.

Time Shift ErrorWe apologize for this error. It does not reflect upon Erin and Hig at all but is our own mis-interpretation. The corect times are likely 3 to 4 hours later than shown in previous video updates.

September 14 through 21, 2007.More Misty Fjords National Monument, big rapids, massive gorges, the Unik and Iskut rivers.

September 1 through 11, 2007.In and around Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska.

July 15 through August 15, 2007.How many ways can you launch a packraft? What a walk in the woods can be like. Setting up shelter with everything in sight. And more…

August 22 and 30, 2007.Packrafting northern waters of British Columbia and near Cape Fox, Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska.

June 9 to 21, 2007.Climbing a mist shrouded mountain, walking across a frozen lake, and paddling packrafts are just some of the things Hig and Erin have done during their first two weeks.

Selected Photos

Some of our favorite photos that Erin and Have have taken along his hike so far. They are listed in reverse chronological order. Click the thumbnail photos in the list on the left to see the larger versions.


Interactive Map (BETA)

Click a link to display a map. You may have to scroll the page to view the entire map.

Overview Map      Washington State Map      British Columbia Map      Alaska Map


"EXPEDITION: Journey on the Wild Coast (Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman)," by Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-06-24 00:05:00-06.


Reader Comments

You must login to post comments.

New Visitors: Create a new account
Remember my login info.

EXPEDITION: Journey on the Wild Coast (Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman)
Display Avatars
Sort By:
Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
EXPEDITION: Journey on the Wild Coast (Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman) on 06/05/2007 22:15:01 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to articles:

EXPEDITION: Journey on the Wild Coast (Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman)

Journey on the Wild Coast, Part 1

Podcast: Journey on the Wild Coast, Part 1

Journey on the Wild Coast, Part 2 - the Gear

Podcast: Journey on the Wild Coast - Packrafting Gear and Clothing

Journey on the Wild Coast - Survival of the Fittest?

Podcast: Journey on the Wild Coast - Should a Non-Coastal Curmudgeon Care About Shrinking Old Growth Forests?

Podcast: Journey on the Wild Coast - Food Choices and Preparation

Edited by kenknight on 04/03/2008 12:36:41 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Good Luck :-) on 06/06/2007 08:52:08 MDT Print View

I will be following this :-)

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Brave souls! on 06/06/2007 10:27:15 MDT Print View

You're two brave souls!

Excellent pre-trip ad. I am gladly hooked.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Thanks on 06/06/2007 14:06:17 MDT Print View

Thank-you for sharing your trip with us. I look forward to getting regular updates during your trip. I really appreciate the sense of place you've conveyed and the environmental mission.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
EXPEDITION: Journey on the Wild Coast (Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman) on 06/07/2007 19:38:33 MDT Print View

> Are you walking back?

Ha! I love it! Best of luck day after tomorrow as you head off on a great and important journey, Erin and Hig.

Mike Maurer
(maurer) - F - M

Locale: Oregon
Wild Coast Gear List on 06/10/2007 09:10:31 MDT Print View

Is there a gear list posted anywhere? Couldn't see one in the text, and there wasn't any sort of link to a dedicated website.


Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Thanks on 06/10/2007 09:53:29 MDT Print View

Kevin I keep looking at your photo. Was that taken in the Mammoth area.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: Wild Coast Gear List on 06/10/2007 18:35:01 MDT Print View

Mike -

We will have a full gear and techniques article in a week or two (maybe this week). Erin and Hig have a lot of interesting homemade gear, and their journey will definitely push the limits of lots of their gear. They also have a lot of gear challenges associated with the large amount of packrafting they plan to do.

Stay tuned!


Edited by don on 06/10/2007 20:25:11 MDT.

Robert A Cornah
(rcornah) - F
Rolling packrafts on 06/27/2007 21:33:16 MDT Print View

Hey, can you eskimo roll one of those packrafts??, if not how do you get back in?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: EXPEDITION: Journey on the Wild Coast (Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman) on 06/27/2007 23:29:58 MDT Print View

I a Seattlite and a kayaker. I've looked at the charts for the Inside Passage many times, wanting to make that trip. The overland/water combination is a great idea. There is so much wild country on the way--- all the inlets and bays, streams and rivers and the wildlife.

There is nothing like paddling along and having eagles soar overhead, or floating down the mouth of a river into a bay with the tide and having a seal poke it's head out of the water a few feet away, floating along with you. Then there are the Orcas, the Gray whales, Great Blue herons, puffins, otters, sea lions--- it's awesome, in the true meaning of the word. I wanna go too!

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: Rolling packrafts on 06/28/2007 01:04:16 MDT Print View

Erin here

Infrequently on the internet on this expedition, but I stopped by on my Vancouver B.C. rest day, and thought I'd reply...

Packrafts are quite stable. Nearly impossible (I've heard rumors someone has done it) to eskimo roll, for the same reason they're hard to flip in the first place. Getting in is really easy, though. We set up a clip system to quickly release the pack from the front (the weight makes the raft harder to flip upright) doable while in the water. Then I just flip it back over and climb in - I've ended up back in the boat almost before I noticed I was out of it. No water stays in the boat after flipping, and I can pull the pack back with an attached string.

Looking forward to heading into the mountains tomorrow, and then up the B.C. coast...

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Journey on the Wild Coast on 07/02/2007 01:58:16 MDT Print View

I'm loving this series. Hig & Erin are WAY more adventurous than I will ever be. I particularly liked the bear deterrent flare! Unfortunately, if I were to deploy said flare (spitting mess of acrid smoke and fire) in Idaho this year, I would have a bear deterrent forest fire on my hands!!

I'm also getting more and more interested in packrafts. And BPL should look into those new drysuits for us - maybe a review in the future?

Keep it coming!

Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Flares on 07/15/2007 13:04:12 MDT Print View

Hi guys

I just read the article again after grazing through it a couple of weeks ago, and I'm amazed I've never heard of the no brainer bear flare idea. I don't live in a bear rich environment, but when you put your mind to it, them old cavemen didn't use pepper spray, it was the acrid smoke and fire that took us off largely off the food chain. I bet the cavemen sure wish for an MLD spinn pyramid.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Flares on 07/15/2007 18:08:18 MDT Print View

Does that mean a Roman Candle would work too ;)

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
A handful of new photos and podcasts on 08/03/2007 09:19:26 MDT Print View

I have just posted a handful of new photos to the portal page. Many of them have appeared on Erin and Hig's blog already, but not this large.

Also the page now is completely current as far as podcasts go so if your preferred method of listening to Erin and Hig is through the website you have plenty more to listen too.

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
Re: A handful of new photos and podcasts on 08/27/2007 14:54:06 MDT Print View

Another handful of photos has been posted.

Yes, I realize the blog has more. We hope to add a large number of photos and videos within the next couople of weeks.

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
Unresponsive script messages on 09/05/2007 05:08:49 MDT Print View

From time to time, and especially as the data track lengthens, you may get a message from your browser about the script being unresponsive along with a "Continue" and "Cancel" button. This is because the map now supports narly 700 data points including the pink line route which is some 630 points long. We are coming to a point where we may decide to make the track of their route somewhat less precise (though we have all the data) so this happens less often.

Do click Continue to get the complete map.

I've had to reduce the map resolution somewhat. As you can now see the pink line plots every 30 points with a wider minimum separation. You'll still have a great feel for their travels.

Edited by kenknight on 09/11/2007 12:35:59 MDT.

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
70 new photos on 09/21/2007 17:02:41 MDT Print View

It's taken a while but I think you'll enjoy the 70 new photos that have just been uploaded. Some you may have seen on Erin and Hig's blog already, but most you haven't.


Gary Thorne
(dogman) - F

Locale: Midwest
Customs on 10/12/2007 09:01:45 MDT Print View

What a great trip report. I was wondering how easy is it to get through Customs with some of the safety gear, one needs? Like a good knife, some meds and cooking gear. I would not want to take a trip like this, with just a 1/2 inch knife or have my titanium tent pegs confiscated, because they might be used to destroy an oil tanker!

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
90 more photos on 10/29/2007 02:06:46 MDT Print View

It's been a while but I think you'll find the wait was worth it. 90 more photos have just gone up covering Erin and Hig's travels pretty much from Ketchikan to Juneau.

** Ken **