Dogsledding in the Tombstone Range, Yukon

Call me mountain woman, adventure addict or tough old bird; I’m most at home in the wild places of the Earth, where Nature reveals its beauty and brutality.

I look back on a life of adventure, most of it devoted to mountaineering.  I’ve seen the view from atop Denali and Logan and from more summits than I can count in the Alps, Nepal, Peru, and in Canada from the BC coast to Baffin Island.  In recent years, technical climbing has given way to hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, study of the mountain environment, and photography.  When you are climbing, you are nose to nose with mountains, and they all pretty much look alike.  When you stop to enjoy the flowers, wildlife and geology, they are all different.

Age takes it inevitable toll, of course.  Four-legged transport (horses, dogs, camels) is welcome now and I no longer scorn mountain lodges with comfy beds and someone else doing the cooking.  I haven’t slowed down – just changed modes.  Since I turned 70, I have rafted the Burnside, Firth (three times), Nahanni  (twice) and Tatshenshini rivers in northern Canada, the Fraser and Chilkotin in BC, climbed Kilimanjaro, visited the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador, taken two horse treks and a cultural trek in Mongolia, mushed dogs and winter camped on two separate weeks in the Yukon, gone on safaris in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia, toured Patagonia, visited Monarch butterfly wintering sites, seen polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, kissed grey whales, spent two weeks at a horse ranch in Mexico, kayaked the Douro River in Portugal, done a tandem skydive from 14,000′, and even bungee jumped at Victoria Falls (age doesn’t necessarily confer wisdom).

My friends call me an adrenaline  junkie, which I take as a compliment because at age 80, I’m happy when people see me as something other than an old woman. But I don’t agree. Over the course of a long life, I have been mauled by a black bear, faced a grizzly at close quarters, and narrowly escaped death on an uncontrolled slide down a mountain, to name just a few of the adrenaline-causing misadventures that I’m not eager to repeat. But a bungee jump at Victoria Falls, a tandem skydive from 14,000′ and rafting trips down wild rivers, all in the last two years, are, for me, simply ways to enjoy life through new experiences, although they obviously are not for everyone. Of course these activities involve risk, but so does driving my car, which is probably the riskiest activity of all, but which I do calmly on a daily basis. And I enjoy a great many experiences that don’t involve risk, such as luxury African safaris, symphony concerts and writing novels. So leaping off a platform with a rope attached to my ankles didn’t really cause a surge of adrenaline; it was just something I wanted to try. (Would I do it again? No. What would be the point?)

Adventure is a seductive and addicting.  Wilderness adventure.  In this blog I try to share some of the fantastic places I have experienced, and I also hope to understand a little better just what adventure has meant to me.

I will keep following the trails as long as my feet can move to take the next step, and if my life should end in some wild, beautiful place it will take three undertakers to wipe the smile from my face.

23 thoughts on “About

  1. Wow! I stumbled on your blog through Freshly Pressed. Awesome! Inspiring! I’m coming back to read more about your adventures. Your blog is exactly the type of blog that inspired us to write our own, because we were having all sorts of epic adventures. (Ours is about “Human Powered Adventures on Water, Snow, Peaks, and Trails”). Please keep writing, sounds like you have a lifetime of adventures and accumulated wisdom.

    Incidentally, I love the grainy, scanned (pre-digital photos). They tell great stories, too.

  2. Thanks for sharing your adventures. I have been to Antarctica and several times to Greenland and Svalbard, as well as extensively in the Alps. Yet it feels like I’ve seen nothing and am eager to see all. Keep on posting amazing photos!

  3. Wow, I can’t tell you how excited I am to learn that you are Female and of signifigant age! I am excited to follow your blog tough old bird, paz Abby oh yea! i just saw there’s a horses Cat going there next

  4. I found you on Freshly Pressed and I will go on following! Please keep writing, because there will be many of us waiting for your adventures! I have travelled much over the last 35 years, but not as dangerously and adventurously as you have! I have seen a bit of what the world is – but the more I see, the more I understand how little I have seen and experienced.

  5. Wow! Just look at the time I have wasted. My youth is slowly fading and it feels like I haven’t done much of anything. Thanks for sharing this and maybe I can live the adventurous like I have always wanted through this blog. You are awesome and the pictures are amazing.

  6. Yeah! I agree with the post above – after reading your post on Nepal and all the other places you traveled to on your own, I was intrigued and I’m delighted to learn that you’re female. lovely 🙂 You’ve sure had an amazing life!

  7. These are encouraging words, particularly in the world that only pay good attention to youth but not the rest…Thank you for sharing your insights and adventure!
    It takes great mind, strong physical condition, and audacity to do what you do. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  8. Mountain Woman — You have my greatest admiration! I salute your valor and strong will… and appreciate the effort you put in after all that climbing to share your experiences with all of us, enriching us with all that beauty and grandeur you so painstakingly experienced.

    Once again, a very heartfelt Thank You!


  9. Wonderful,,, I am a BC 3 rd Generation girl,, well am almost 50,,, and i toooo like adventure,, at the age of 18 i moved from the cityof Vanvouver to the wilds of the inlets of Vancouver Island and lived on a log bomm ,,,i like tough old birds,,they have amazing feathers!!! peace D”gypsy Soul Sister

  10. Thank you for sharing your experiences, you have quite inspired me and fueled me to continue seeking for adventure, especially in the mountains. I am relieved to see that I am not alone in my love for the wilderness. I have done a lot of backpacking in several mountain ranges in the world, but i would like to take it to the next level and do more challenging climbs and adventures, where would you say is the place to start? should I take mountaineering classes? how much do I need to know to be on an expedition?

  11. It appears you may have taken the Mongolia trek I’m hoping to do myself in 2013…with Tusker Trail? I have very little horseback riding experience but hope to ride the trip. I would love to hear your overall impression of this trip…I normally do not go for group tours but this one seems so wonderful.

    • Hi Celeste,
      Yes, I took the Mongolia trek with Tusker Trail and I enjoyed it so much that I have signed up to repeat it in 2013. It will be a small group and not at all like a standard group tour. We didn’t even have to ride nose-to-tail, as in most trail rides. Those who wanted to gallop did so when the terrain permitted it. Those who wanted the horse to walk all the way could do so. You don’t need to be an accomplished equestrian(I could stay on at a walk and trot, but not a canter) but you do need to do enough riding to be able to stay in the saddle for 5 or 6 hours a day. I don’t know where you live, but if you could do a few trail rides before going you would certainly enjoy the trip more. Of course, if the riding gets to be too uncomfortable, you can always walk. The hikers had to use horses to cross rivers and in a few swampy places, but otherwise they seemed to enjoy the hiking.

  12. I just read every one of your blog posts after stumbling upon your site quite randomly. Please write more posts – your life story is quite enjoyable to read. Like everyone else, you have inspired me. Hope all is well!

  13. Pingback: Adventurous Blogger Award | Canoe Communications

  14. Jo Ann, I am so excited that you’ve shared your blog – I can’t wait to read in detail about all of your adventures that have so inspired me…As Olaf Malver says, “Never Stop Exploring!”

  15. Thanks for stopping by my blog http://lovethybike.wordpress.com/. It is always great to hear from my readers. In response to your french queries : We are staying in the village of Morzine and it can be reached by pre-arranged shuttle from Geneva airport. If you want to go exploring I suggest hiring a car or bicycle ( if you enjoy pedalling up hill ?) I hope this information helps? if you want more let me know. cheers!

  16. Love your dogsledding photo and the fact that you like to cozy up with your cats. What a life you’re living!! Love the last line of your “About”. I’ve got two cats that I’ve featured on my blog and I also posted a short entry with photos on my dogsledding experience called “Must Love Dogs”. Feel free to check it out. Always nice to find something in common. Seems we both like Christopher Martin’s photography (awesome!) which is how I found you!

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