Many people talk about the power of travel over our lives. Whether it’s a year off before university to explore the clubs of Barcelona, a weekend jaunt on the corporate jet to the wineries of the Napa Valley or a week-long personal exploration of the love hotels of Shinjuku, our travels have the power to not only shape us as people, but also to bring out those aspects of us that we might not otherwise utilize.
Recently, I participated in a corporate-sponsored wilderness retreat on a series of uninhabited islands off of the West Coast. My friends at ConFusingLy NAMED T3knologi St/\rtup and I embarked on an epic, month-long journey that led us deep within ourselves.
The feeling came over me as soon as I saw my co-workers — nay, brothers — in the parking lot of the local microbrewery that first morning. Watching a cadre of capable, skilled young men don their armoured shoulder pads and motorcycle helmets while priming the electric motors of our fleet of Expedition Segways was an inspiring sight. We loaded our six stretch-limo Ford Excursions with each man’s inflatable polymer yurt, taking care not to damage the custom embroidery featuring our corporate logo.
On the intense five-kilometre trek from the outer city limits, many of the Segways failed. The asphalt conditions were too much for even the triple-braced suspensions of the $3 000 custom-built transporters. Thankfully, we were able to abandon the battle-weary fleet in a busy section of the Interstate and hoof it the final few blocks to the supercharger station to rendezvous with our convoy of Eddie Bauer edition Tesla Model S vehicles.
It was all worth it when we finally arrived at our destination — the picturesque, fog-laden hills evoked the unflagging spirit of the solitary bear and soaring falcon. We waited, hunkered down in our MEC Arctic parkas while the 100-person staff of baristas-turned-sherpas assembled our campsite. Rather than avoid the elements, we turned off the heat in the passenger compartment of the SUVs and steeled ourselves against the chill. Coping with the sinking temperatures together as we waited without any reception on our satellite radio helped bring us together as a team and grew the bonds between us.
The culmination of our journey, however, was on the final night, as we were airlifted by Sikorsky Skycrane one by one to the top of nearby Falconeaglehawk, a mountain known for being the most challenging climb in all of the Northern Hemisphere. Our steel-toed wilderness boots kept us rooted to the summit for our 15-minute “spirit quest” periods as we sipped imported Chinese jasmine tea out of blown-glass thermoses. The isolation, being nearly out of sight of the hovering helicopter, gave us each the chance to experience the freedom and independence that comes with being the apex predator of Earth.
I can’t wait for next week, when we’ll be touring the West Coast Trail and blazing a new path with a converted WWII Sherman flamethrower tank. A huge shout-out to Lone Pine Incredible Wundertrips Inc. Ltd. — without them, I’d have no idea who I really was or what I was capable of. I can’t thank them enough for giving myself and my team the opportunity to experience nature as it was truly meant to be experienced: unaltered by man.