Andrew Skurka: Trekking the Wild North

Andrew Skurka: Trekking the Wild North

From the Best of NG Live Collection: Get the inside story of the gear—and the grit—needed by National Geographic grantee Andrew Skurka for his six-month, 4,700-mile expedition through Alaska and the Yukon.


6 - 12+


Experiential Learning, Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography

NG Live

This video was filmed on March 14, 2011 as part of the National Geographic Live! Lecture series at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

National Geographic Explorer Andrew Skurka is an accomplished adventure athlete, speaker, guide, and writer. The 31-year-old is most well known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips, notably the 4,700-mile (7,564 kilometer) 6-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, the 6,875-mile (11,064 kilometer) 7-month Great Western Loop, and the 7,775-mile (12,513 kilometer) 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000 miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas—the equivalent of traveling 1.2 times around Earth’s equator!


  • Introduction (start-01:35 min.)

  • Parents' expectations and a different life path (01:36-02:20 min.)

  • The start of long-distance backpacking: the Appalachian Trail (02:21-02:53 min.)

  • Hiking the Sea-to-Sea route and the Great Western Loop (02:54-04:20 min.)

  • Learning how to travel off trail (04:21-05:55 min.)

  • Planning the next trip: Alaska (05:56-08:09 min.)

  • March: starting the Alaska-Yukon Expedition (08:10-09:44 min.)

  • A frozen landscape and brutal conditions (09:45-11:14 min.)

  • Video: skiing the Alaskan mountain range (11:15-13:18 min.)

  • Video: summer in the Alaskan bush and bear encounters (13:19-16:08 min.)

  • The Lost Coast: beach walking and terror (16:09-18:00 min.)

  • Off trail routes and the importance of reading maps (18:01-20:49 min.)

  • Game trails and the ability to move, eat, and sleep (20:50-23:46 min.)

  • Meticulous planning and the path of least resistance (23:47-26:00 min.)

  • Extreme wilderness (26:01-26:50 min.)

  • Video: swarming bugs (26:51-28:26 min.)

  • The "aha!" moment: feeling like the last person on Earth (28:27-31:49 min.)

  • Return to Kotzebue, Alaska (31:50-32:55 min.)


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Page Producers
Nina Page, National Geographic Society
Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

September 27, 2022

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