This time there was a note, left by some paddlers to a woman named Audrey Sutherland. Sorry we missed you, it said. When I got back to town, I asked around about her. Turns out she was well known on the coast, migrating between Alaska and Hawaii like the whales. She always went solo, even as she grew older. Her motto was "Go simple, go solo, go now." As a younger woman, she wanted to explore the coast of Molokai, and so she swam it in jeans, towing her supplies. This was decades ago, long before social media and gear ambassadorships. She wrote books about her trips and a list of things that she thought all sixteen year olds should be able to do. One of them was:
- Be happy and comfortable alone for ten days, ten miles from the nearest other person
I never got a chance to find Audrey. She died in her late 80s in 2015. If she met me, she would probably not approve. I live in a house. I mostly work at a desk. My adventures are pretty tame. I still think we would have lots to talk about. I still remember the bears passing behind my tent on a salmon stream in the old growth forest. I still remember pulling the kayak up on a beach so quiet I could hear the rain. And even though I don't stray too far from home these days, I still try to live by her motto: Go simple. Go solo. Go now.
Is there anyone who inspired you like Audrey has me? Did you ever meet this person?