The adventures of Seldovia’s Higman-McKittirick family continued into the Central Peninsula over the weekend. They are one month into a journey that is taking them 800 miles around the shores of Cook Inlet.
With the 4-year-old Katmai and 2-year-old Lituya bundled up, it was time to hit the beach for another day of hiking along Cook Inlet. I met up with the family as they were leaving the house of some friends who put them up for the night a few miles down from the mouth of the Kenai River. A quick goodbye and we were on our way.
I imagine planning and executing an 800-mile trek, mostly through uninhabited wilderness, would be a tall enough order. Factor in the needs of two toddlers and the obvious question is Why do you do it?
“We love the experience, we love being out there…that experience of moving through a landscape,” said Erin McKittirick.
“The other half of it is that as we started doing more and more of these trips, we were really struck by how educational they were, even unintentionally. We would always learn so many things, and so now it’s kind of explicitly part of our mission is to have the experience but also learn as much as we can,” she said.
Dad Bretwood Higman, who goes by Hig, says despite the long spans out in the bush, this trip, especially the first half, will introduce them to lots of new faces.
No matter where they are, though, unique challenges pop up almost daily.
“The challenge yesterday was ‘Wow, if we had to camp, there’s not much beach and we’d be in someone’s yard, but that’s pretty easy to deal with…The big challenge for us in those remote areas is how, with such limited capacity to carry stuff and with the two kids (who) eat a lot, how do we carry enough food? It’s that simple,” Hig said.
They’re planning to write a book about their journey when it’s done, probably sometime in late July. Erin says the picture they hope to paint for people is the one that shows itself over the course of 800 miles and not the one they’d imagined before leaving.
“One of the things we’ve really been focusing on this trip is…asking everyone that we meet ‘What is the future of both their community and Alaska as a whole?’. And you get a lot of interesting answers.”
“One big thing that seems to come up over and over again is both people noting and concerned about fish. I would say that’s probably one of the bigger ones.”
They’ve kept close to their estimated schedule, so far, and should be in the Nikiski area by Wednesday. They’ll reach Anchorage toward the end of May. You can follow the progress of the trip and see photos on their blog which also includes a map that shows exactly where they are on their path.