The Y2Y Hike is a true grassroots effort; fueled by commitment, the spirit of adventure, and 100's of non-profit conservation groups, friends, family, and a collection of environmental foundations.
Karsten Heuer is on a two-year, unpaid leave of absence from his job as a park warden and biologist. Most of his work has been in preparing for the hike and awareness campaign. Time to plan and schedule presentations, fundraise, develop media materials and conduct hundreds of media interviews and public presentations has been volunteered.
In one year working full-time on the project, Heuer earned $4,000;
In the first year, more than 5,000 additional hours were donated by family, friends, and a publicist who pursued his beliefs more than his wage could pay;
100's of volunteers helped advertise and promote the project's presentations in communities throughout the region.
The project will rely on grassroot efforts to make it a success again this year.
The project rides precariously on a shoestring budget that is periodically steered into the black by emergency donations from family and friends. Organizations and foundations helped finance a publicist ($1500/month) for six months, the gasoline to ferry slide projectors, press kits and maps from community to community for presentations and interviews, and printing costs for posters and press kits. Funders include Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Foundation, Mountain Equipment Co-op Environment Fund, TransAlta, Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Friends of Banff National Park, Friends of Yoho, and the Canadian Himalayan Foundation.
A local Canmore grocer donated 100's of pounds of overripe fruits and vegetables dried on dehydrators in a friend's basement. Calgary-based Community Natural Foods and Softpath Cuisine have donated dried foods such as rice, beans, and grains.
Another challenge was caching food safely from the hungry jaws of wolverine along the trek's proposed ski route north of Jasper. Large steel paint cans with wired lever clamps were skied in and hung from trees at 10-day intervals. "The closest our route comes to a plowed road along its 30-day course is a 3-day ski down a side drainage. We need to have as secure a system as possible", said friend Jay Honeyman, who will accompany Heuer and Allison for the ski section of the trip.
PLANNING THE ROUTE
Planning the route to the Yukon is still not complete. "An hour on the phone with someone who knows the area can save lives on the ground", comments Allison.
Hunters, outfitters, trappers, foresters, park rangers, pilots, snowmobilers, hikers and horse riders are all being consulted as Heuer and Allison piece together a route through some of North America's wildest areas.
Route planning is an involved process, one that required more than 60 maps for the first half of the trip last year. But it also has unexpected spin-offs for communicating the Y2Y message. "Many people we've been speaking with in northern BC ask us why we're doing this. Most are a little surprised to hear about the trek's symbolic route and, by the time we're finished chatting, are inspired by the vision of a system of parks connected by wildlife corridors all along the Rockies", said Heuer.
After losing over 20 pounds from his slight frame on last year's 2,000km section of the trek, Heuer was ready to rest. "My bones and joints were complaining by the time I got to Jasper", he confides. Writing proposals, phoning, scheduling and mapping during his three month winter layover have done much to allow his body to recuperate. Running, swimming and a weekly ski tour into the mountains have kept him fit.
parks personnel, friends & fellow adventurers
were recruited to help with preparations. Right:
Route planning is an involved process, and required
more than 60 maps for the first half of the
trip last year. Here, Leanne Allison, Heuer
and Jay Honeyman discuss route options for their
30 day ski north of Jasper. Left: Roy
Howard of Duster, BC poses next to a homemade
sled and a snowmobile "revived" the
night before to take a food cache up St. Holmes