APU Student Jared Walter’s Cycling Adventure
By Miriam Mezzetti
APU Junior Jared Walter cycled 4,300 miles last summer across the North American continent to visit his family. Originally from Pennsylvania, Jared came to Alaska to study at APU because he loves the outdoors and has always wanted to live in Alaska. He credits his experiences in Outdoor Studies with giving him the confidence and assurance he needed to make the decision to bike home to Pennsylvania.
Jared’s decision was influenced, he notes, by his desire to experience a new adventure that would challenge him. “I heard a few guys talking about bike touring and thought it sounded pretty sweet. So, two months later when school ended, I bought a bike, told my parents I would see them in a few months, and peddled out of Anchorage,” Jared explains.
Along his 81 day journey, 64 days of which were spent biking, Jared encountered beautiful scenery, a variety of wildlife, and many new friendly faces. He “passed brown and black bear while moving through the Yukon, biked alongside wood bison in the northern part of British Columbia, had to navigate around groups of mountain goats in the Canadian Rockies, and almost collided with a few deer trying to cross the road while biking through Wisconsin and Michigan.” His favorite part of the journey, he notes, were the people he met. He met with fellow cyclists from the UK and Arizona who had also started from Anchorage. They biked together through some of the more remote parts of the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. Jared is thankful for the people who housed and fed him along the way. “They are a part of the trip I’ll never forget,” he mentions, “after traveling on the road for months, it was extremely nice to sit down at a table and have a normal meal.”
Much of Jared’s journey was spent biking alone, which he considers the biggest challenge he encountered to be. “Biking for months on end was definitely more mentally exhausting than it was physically,” he elaborates, “but that’s what I was looking for.”
Taking on such a challenging adventure, Jared explains, has helped him to understand himself, his capabilities, and his limitations. In his own words, “The trip was the best experience of my life but was also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I learned more about myself than I thought possible and it has helped me understand who I am. Being able to move across the country on nothing but a bike was an amazing experience that has given me a new idea of what adventure really is. If you have a goal that you want to meet, just go for it. Only you know your true capabilities and limitations. If that goal happens to involve a long bike tour, my advice to you is to buy a comfortable bike seat!”