Preparing for my “Find Tuktoyaktuk” adventure can be summed up in one word, logistics! The planning, implementing and coordinating of transportation, food drops, and gear, can be as exciting as it is stressful. Befriending the environment and utilizing available resources is key when organizing your own adventure. Thinking outside of the box and a demonstrating a willingness to bend is a prerequisite when creating a personal guidebook.

“Finding Tuktoyaktuk” is a multidisciplinary adventure that includes backpacking, pack-rafting, and push-cart walking. Geographically speaking, some sections of the adventure are extremely remote, resupply towns are few and far between, and cell service remains a sporadic luxury.

From a creative perspective, I wondered how I could film “Finding Tuktoyaktuk” with minimal camera gear. Would it be possible to document my Arctic journey with ultra-light gear and not jeopardize the quality of the video and sound? Could a streamline film kit be carried on the Chilkoot Trail, float down the Yukon River, and survive the Dempster Highway?


As a generation X’er, I continue to romanticize old-school technologies and the rituals associated with their use. As convenient as iTunes is, I still prefer the sound of vinyl. Purchasing an album was considered to be an investment in an artist and listening to their recorded magic in its purest form felt sacred. Record stores in the 80’s were public libraries for music fans. Countless hours were spent in my teen years scouring through boxes of records in search of new music.


Photography wise, I still reminisce about my 35mm SLR camera. Digital camera technology has robbed me of the anticipation and anxiety associated with film processing.


Granted, I appreciate the immediate satisfaction of digital photography determining the fate of a photo. With that said, I do miss waiting an entire day to see if a captured memory among friends was accurately transferred onto paper. Leaving a camera store horrified and disappointed was a common occurrence after having a film processed in the 1980’s.


As a generation X’er, rotary phones continue to make me smile. In the late 70’s, it was a conscious decision to leave the comfort of the living room couch to answer the communal phone in the kitchen. I have often wondered if societal laziness was a direct result of our fingers no longer circling numbers on a wall mounted phone.


Ultimately, documenting this journey has forced me to embrace technology and invest in lightweight camera gear. I was the person who vowed to never buy an I-Phone. I was the person who could not justify spending a thousand dollars on an I-Phone. I have since realized it’s more than a phone. It’s an adventurer’s dream piece of film equipment. After extensive research and feedback from friends, I can honestly say it was the I-Phone that inspired my ten piece film kit.






















I am not affiliated with any of these brands; however, all these products can be found on Amazon.


“At sunrise, everything is luminous but not clear” Norman Maclean


“Happy Birthday Min”, was my morning greeting, as we headed out to capture his birthday sunrise.


We both felt incredibly blessed to wake up to this jaw dropping view along this remote section of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.


Many of my friends have asked me over the years what is the difference between camping in a national forest as opposed to a national park. My answer is rather simple, FREEDOM!


National forests are less restrictive. There is no entrance fee, and camping is permitted anywhere. Granted there are no facilities, not even a porta potti, however if you are willing to camp this remote peeing outside should not be a problem.

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Once the sun was completely up, we headed back to camp for a late breakfast.


It was a refreshing change having this birthday base camp without a set agenda. There was no daily hiking mile quotas, no worrying about having to find a water source, and no daily breaking down of camp. If we needed additional supplies, it was a simple walk to the car.



After breakfast Min and I walked the 200 yards to the Locust Point parking lot, where we met an ultra runner named Paul. Paul, a fellow generation X’er, left his mainstream career for a simpler life. In a blog recently I talked about the Generation X experience and the unfulfilled expectations of our parents.


I feel our generation has become rather adaptable, in harsh economic times we have found ways to reinvent ourselves. Perhaps we are a new breed of Generation X’ers. For lack of a better term, I now refer to us as Generation X-Y (WHY).


Generation X-Y questions the idea of working just to pay bills. We do not crave the 3000 sq ft home that somehow became the new normal. We prefer to LIVE, and work second. We do not fit into the D.I.N.K. category, double income no kids, which seemed to grow in popularity in the late 80’s. S.I.N.K., single income no kids, might be more fitting. It was refreshing to meet Paul, a like minded individual who valued TIME.

I feel generation X-WHY operates in the currency of time. Time is one thing most of us can not afford, yet we seem to value it more once we find ourselves facing our own mortality. While mainstream media has normalized consumerism, I wish the living more and needing less community made everyday headlines. Living simpler does not necessarily mean having a tiny house on wheels. It means one is willing to cut expenses, change careers if necessary, in order to pursue the passions one might normally wait to explore upon retirement. The question remains, why do we wait to LIVE MORE?


After saying goodbye to Paul, Min, Shadow and I headed out for a hike. This would be Shadow’s first forest hike above 7500 ft.


I am not sure who appreciates the outdoors more, Shadow or me. Min being the great father he is,  made sure he pointed out all the major landmarks to Shadow.


Leaving the rim, we continued along the trail leading us through ponderosa pine and forests of aspen.


I wondered what Shadow was thinking as we ventured further into the forest.

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Was this just another hike for him, or was he like his mama, where the trail offered an escape from identity?

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As a child, I had no sense of identity. I understood that I possessed distinctive characteristics that created a unique self; however as an adopted child having no sense of my personal history created more of a dent in my I-dent-ity.


Even now as 43 yr old woman, I still feel like an egg that hatched and at times feel like I’m visiting the planet, as opposed to a participating Planetarian. The beauty of being on trail is assuming the identity of a nobody. In the wilderness I have no history, there are no facades, and there is no past or future. In many ways, I guess you could say I am exploring the mystery of presence.


Undoubtedly hiking has become an active meditation for me. Being on trail frees me from space and time. As a colleague once said, “Leigh, it sounds like mindless walking”. I think my friend Muk (Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hiker 2013) best explained mindless walking as “float walking.”


Hiking has always offered me a form of elemental therapy. Over the years I have found quietude, equanimity, peacefulness, and self-possession on trail.

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Imagine if physicians prescribed elemental exposure as a routine RX. Call me weird, however, I feel reconnecting with Mother Nature can remedy disconnection with oneself.


On the return leg of our hike, Shadow decided to sprint himself lame. Shadow might blame it on his first encounter with a deer, while I hold Shadow’s love of running and his curiosity culpable.

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Either way, as soon as we arrived at camp Shadow put himself to bed.


It was official; Shadow was out of action for the rest of the afternoon.


Just before sunset Shadow, Min and I headed over to the point to honor the ending of his birthday. Sunrises for me have always been about acknowledging the possibilities of a new day, while sunsets tend to serve as reminders of self-reflection and gratitude.


On this day I was grateful that my best friend of 17 years still holds the same passion for life as he did when we first met. The key to our friendship you may ask; I feel like we gave each other our childhoods back. Imagine being on an eternal play date with someone? I can only hope we both find this quality in our future love interests and at some point our spouses.


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As the sun painted the sky orange red we headed back to camp. The temperature had dropped into the low 40’s, the coldest temperature I had experienced all summer. Tonight it would be chicken noodle soup and yet another night to test out my new Alps four season tent.



We returned back to Boulder Beach campground after our long day hike to Hoover Dam.

I wanted to camp at Boulder Beach Campground because it hugs the Lake Mead shoreline.


Undoubtedly, it’s one of the most commercial camp grounds I have stayed at in a long time. I am used to backcountry camping, where the only luxury items are the ones you can fit into your pack. So the idea of having access to a flushing toilet, trash cans, picnic tables and a BBQ grill is rather upscale. With that said, $10 a night, it’s scenic, however still a little congested for my liking. Next door to the campground is an RV park.

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Some of the rigs here are full-time residents, while many RV’s are seasonal. Over the past 12 months, I have researched numerous ways of living differently and simpler. I have found a large community of people, young and old, who have decided to live and work on the road full time.

For mainstream, this may seem like an underground movement, but it really isn’t. Many generation X’ers are realizing they can live mobile while telecommuting to work. Generation X’ers are often referred to as the “lost” generation. If we are the LOST generation, then I also think we are the generation that FOUND ways to re-invent ourselves during harsh economic times. In the midst of a long-term recession and a disappearing middle class, we have become extremely resourceful and creative. Gone are the days of long term job security and stability with a company. I have found many of my fellow generation X’ers have been forced to diversify their professional resume, similar to their parent’s 401k plans.

Generation X’ers statistically are the most educated generation. 30% of us have a bachelor’s degree or higher. I feel we are the generation that was raised on change. Granted we were the first generation of latchkey kids. Daycare, divorce, and single parent homes became normalized during our childhood.


We are the generation that grew up with a rotary phone on the wall, introduced to the cordless phone, marveled over a cell phone, celebrated the pager,  not to mention our cheering of free internet phone calls.

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We were raised on records, yet we took great pride in our creation of mix tapes. We cheered for compact discs, and we embraced mp3’s. On Sundays you might even find us stalking garage sales looking to buy back our disregarded turntables from the late 80’s.


Personally, I feel our generation of change has enabled and permitted us to fast track our professional careers. Change was the norm growing up. We learned to adapt rather quickly, if we didn’t, we were left behind.

Baby Boomers have adapted too. The first generation to psycho analyze themselves, they are demanding to live more and wait less. Some retired boomers are finding part-time work in state and national parks that help offset costs while living mobile. Retired seniors are working as camp ground hosts. It pays minimally, however it does allow one to live rent and utility free. Artists are also finding that living on the road is a more affordable way to create, while not being committed to a mundane day job in order to pay rent. The dualism of an artist, creating and funding your passion until it becomes your full-time income, while juggling a soul less job to pay the bills in the meantime.

I have also met full timers trying to survive on disability. A disability check is an unlivable wage, especially if you are single. Living within simple means, means living creatively and becoming extremely resourceful. For many people disability is their soul income. Imagine living on 600 dollars a month? You may understand why living on the road full-time is a happier and cheaper way to live, as opposed to struggling to make a rent payment. I know many senior citizens held hostage by their social security check. After paying rent, and buying food, there are only pennies left.

Regardless of one’s income, I think we could all benefit from living a more resourceful life. Do we really need so much stuff? The great comedic sociologist George Carlin taught me this lesson many years ago.

Realistically, I see myself as a future tiny house builder. However recently I have been entertaining the idea of converting a bus into a home on wheels. I feel by mixing tiny house technology and my backpacker’s simplicity, I could create my dream all wheel drive home. Off course I would have a roof top deck, with an outdoor bedroom.

Imagine having a drivable open space? Something like this perhaps? Although,  I would have hard wood floors!


We returned back to camp to prepare and bunker down for a windy night. With the tent secured, Shadow took the time to tend to his toes.

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Poor Shads, he had never experienced so much friction from sand on his paws.


I was starting to wonder how unsettling the daily changes had been for him. For now, he lives day-to-day, and has no idea of where home is. Similar to his mama, he might be learning that home is really being at peace with yourself, embracing your surroundings, and being open to others around you.

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Throughout the night the winds howled. In Shadow’s mind the windy man had returned. The best defense: hide. Shadow opted for pulling the sleeping bag over his head in order to fend off the windy man. Under the covers he felt safe.


By morning the windy man had calmed down, yet his presence was still felt and heard.


Shadow was not impressed with the reality that we would be spending another day in the wind. I think the look says it all!


I decided a morning cuddle, stretch, and massage might turn Shadow’s mood around.


We were heading to Boulder City this morning, and later onto St. George, Utah. We had a long day ahead of us. I was hopeful that some dopamine and oxytocin production might change his attitude.