Interview with Thomas Jaggers

Read the full interview with Thomas Jaggers here.

Thomas-newWhy this journey, why you and why now?

Thomas Jaggers: David Witt proposed last year that we recreate that expedition as part of the Seton Legacy Project. His intent is part historical—finding campsites, retracing Seton’s steps—and part scientific and environmental in terms of whether it is possible to see and track any changes in the landscape and environment due to global warming.

Within the Academy, it was Aaron’s suggestion initially that Patty and I accompany David on the trip primarily to see if there are ways in which we can more fully align Seton and the work of the Seton Legacy Project with the rest of the Academy’s programming and mission.

To be completely honest, when it was first proposed to me and I said ‘yes,’ there wasn’t any great reason for going beyond the fact that it sounds like a fun trip, a chance to go somewhere where most people wouldn’t normally go. To spend six days out in the wilderness is of course something I would want to do.

Seton says in the original preface to The Arctic Prairies, “What young man would not gladly give a year of his life to roll backward the scroll of time for five decades and live that year in the romantic bygone days of the Wild West?” He realized that heading that far north was a chance to go back to an environment and a way of life up there that was from the past. So I guess there is also a part for me that is excited about getting completely away from urbanization and human life and human society.

What are your intentions? Now that the day to leave is drawing closer and you have responded to the call to adventure, it sounds like there is something about experiencing the wild in a certain way. Could you say more about that?

Thomas Jaggers: During the six days that we will be out on the lake, we will be based at a campsite and then doing day expeditions, day hikes, or possibly one or two days of canoe expeditions, and then back to the camp for the night. There will be the three of us, the curator of the Canadian museum, and the guide—maximum six people.

I don’t know how many hundreds of miles we will be from the nearest town or cell phone reception, but we are going to be out in the wilderness in a way that I haven’t been out in the wilderness ever before. Even in the Himalayas when I was there, there were always shepherds and tiny little villages, which was away from Western civilization but it wasn’t away from human life. I think this is going to be my first real time of being completely out in the wilderness—a plane ride away from anyone else.

The landscape doesn’t look so exciting to me: it is tundra. It is just below the Arctic Circle, but it is above the extent of the forest, so there are no trees; it is low grassland and lakes. If you look on Google Earth it looks like a mass of grass interspersed with water and rivers and lakes and streams.

Continue reading the interview here.

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