Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 20, 2009

Vicarious and Iconoclastic Adventure Travel

SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS BLOG

An iconoclastic traveller

In his book Iconoclast: a neuroscientist reveals how to think differently, Gregory Berns explores the “person who does something that others say can’t be done.”

He also explores the brain science of those who refuse to listen to those who say (literally and figuratively), “Don’t go there.”

Why would Meagan McGrath, or anyone for that matter, put themselves through the “journey” you are about to read about below? In part, Berns postulates that it is a question of perception:

“Fortunately, the networks that govern both perception and imagination can be reprogrammed. The frontal cortex, which contains rules for decision-making, can reconfigure neural networks in the visual pathways so that the individual can see things that she didn’t see before simply by deploying her attention differently… getting out of the environment in which an indiviudal has become comfortable — to jolt attentional systems awake and reconfigure both perception and imagination. The more radical and novel the change, the greater the likelihood of new insights being generated. To think like an iconoclast, you need novel experiences.”

Now I am not prepared to go where Meagan is going (or has already been), but it seems to me that the theme-issue-concept of the need for a novel experience to jolt us out of our “normal” way of perceiving things, is both process and product of really in-depth and content-rich participatory travel experiences.

Go for it Meagan!

MEAGAN MCGRATH,
SUDBURY’S BEST-KNOWN ADVENTURER,
PREPARES FOR AN EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH POLE
HER BIGGEST ADVENTURE IS YET TO COME!

SUDBURY, ONTARIO, CANADA — What can possibly be as exhilarating and amazing as reaching the summit of the top of world, Mount Everest? How do you supersede climbing both versions of the seven highest peaks on seven continents? What could test a person’s physical and mental stamina more than a 7-day foot race through the Sahara desert? Leave it up to Meagan McGrath, Sudbury’s best-known adventurer, to think of something that may top them all!

In April 2009 Meagan, will be heading to the Arctic, for a short, two-and-a-half week expedition. The purpose of this Polar Adventure, scheduled for April 9-27, 2009, is to prepare Meagan for what is undoubtedly her biggest adventure to date; an adventure that will span 60 solitary days.

The Arctic expedition to the North Pole is part of Meagan’s training regime as she continues to prepare for her most ambitious endeavour thus far — an adventure, for which, further details will be announced at a later date. Meagan’s upcoming expedition in April is intended to test the limits of her physical and mental endurance and ensure that there are no faults with her equipment. The North Pole expedition is described as an adventure that includes several obstacles on the way to reaching the North Pole – from open water “leads” to huge pressure ridges of ice.

“I’m going to the gym and trying to build up my core strength, across my back, and my legs,” said Meagan. “It’s going to require a lot of brute strength. Hauling over the Lead and pressure ridges will require a lot of grunt-effort.”

Meagan’s fans can log on to sciencenorth.ca/meaganl for regular podcasts that will document how she is preparing for her expedition.

The expedition begins in Longyearbyen, Norway, a remote yet modern village located well above the Arctic circle at 78 degrees North. Participants will spend the first day in town reviewing their equipment and safety procedures. A chartered flight will bring Meagan and the expedition group to 89 degrees north latitude, where they will depart towards their goal destination — the geographic North Pole. Skiing 7-10 hours a day over the dynamic pack ice, they’ll encounter many challenges and breathtaking scenery.

If conditions are good, the route will take them across large pans of flat ice that present few obstacles. When conditions are less than ideal, the group will have to maneuver around open water “leads” and over pressure ridges that can range from 1-5 metres in height.

Meagan will also be expected to pitch-in regarding all aspects of the expedition, including setting up camp, cooking, tracking progress, etc.

When the expedition team reaches the North Pole, they may be able to spend the night there, time permitting. The following morning a helicopter pick-up and charter flight will take them back to Longyearbyen . Meagan McGrath’s Polar Adventure is inspired by Science North.

About Meagan McGrath

Meagan is a 31-year old Sudburian, and a Captain in the Canadian Air Force. She is an aerospace engineer and works at the Air Force Experimentation Centre in Ottawa. As a child, Meagan regularly visited Science North and was a regular participant in Science North’s summer camps and programs…and that inspired her to pursue a career in science.

Science North has been a proud supporter of Meagan during many of her greatest achievements.

In May 2007 she reached the summit of Mount Everest and achieved her dream of becoming the first Canadian Forces member and the youngest Canadian female to achieve the Seven Summits — the highest peaks on seven continents.

In December 2007, Meagan successfully climbed Carstensz Pyramid, the highest mountain in Oceania. In doing so she became the only Canadian female, and the first Canadian Forces Member to achieve both versions of the Seven Summits!

In April 2008, Meagan McGrath crossed the finish line at the 2008 Marathon des Sables — a gruelling 7-day race through the Sahara desert. She exceeded even her own expectations, placing 24th among the top 25 women in the race!

For more information on the city of Sudbury and Science North (both historic and traveller-friendly destinations in Northern Ontario’s “Nickel Belt,” click on the preceding links.

And don’t forget to visit Meagan’s website.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 23, 2009CANADIAN ADVENTURER MEAGAN MCGRATH REACHES THE GEOGRAPHIC NORTH POLE

SUDBURY, ON – Following seven days of skiing, with a group of fellow adventurers from the United States and Scotland, Meagan McGrath has reached the geographic North Pole. Sudbury’s best-known adventurer arrived at the North Pole on April 22, 2009 at approximately 5 p.m. Sudbury time (11 p.m. Longyearbyen, Norway time).

The purpose of this Polar Adventure, which began on April 9th in Longyearbyen, Norway, is to prepare Meagan for what is undoubtedly her biggest adventure to date; an adventure that will span 60 solitary days. The Arctic expedition to the North Pole is part of Meagan’s training regime as she continues to prepare for her most ambitious endeavour thus far– an adventure that will see her journey, solo, over 1130 km on foot, from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, dragging 225 pounds of food, fuel, and equipment in a sled for two months. Meagan’s Antarctic Odyssey will begin November 1, 2009.

Meagan’s Polar expedition is intended to test the limits of her physical and mental endurance and ensure that there are no faults with her equipment. The North Pole expedition is described as an adventure that includes several obstacles on the way to reaching the North Pole – from open water “leads” to huge pressure ridges of ice.

About a week ago, a chartered flight dropped the group of adventurers at 89 degrees north latitude, where they departed towards their goal destination. The group skied 7 to 10 hours per day over the dynamic pack ice.

According to audio dispatches provided by Meagan McGrath at http://sciencenorth.ca/meagan, the group was required to maneuver around an open water “lead”(or river of ice) that was 8 to 20 metres wide, at least once during the expedition. She also says the group was challenged to climb over a pressure ridge (or pile of ice rubble) towards the end of their journey. Meagan goes on to say that listening to music and comedians on her iPod helped keep up her momentum during the long hours of skiing across large pans of flat ice. She also kept in touch with family via Facebook. Mid-way into her journey Meagan says she followed the lead of her guide and decided to not use her tent to sleep in. Instead, she caught some shut-eye on the ice surface, lying under the sun.

Meagan McGrath will return to Science North in Sudbury in May. Media wishing to book an interview in advance of her visit to Sudbury should contact Christine Catt at (705) 522-3701 ext. 276 or via email at catt@sciencenorth.ca.

Meagan McGrath’s Polar Adventure is inspired by Science North.

About Meagan McGrath

Meagan is a 31-year old Sudburian, and a Captain in the Canadian Air Force. She is an aerospace engineer and works at the Air Force Experimentation Centre in Ottawa. As a child, Meagan regularly visited Science North and was a regular participant in Science North’s summer camps and programs…and that inspired her to pursue a career in science.

Science North has been a proud supporter of Meagan during many of her greatest achievements.

In May 2007 she reached the summit of Mount Everest and achieved her dream of becoming the first Canadian Forces member and the youngest Canadian female to achieve the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on seven continents.

In December 2007, Meagan successfully climbed Carstensz Pyramid, the highest mountain in Oceania. In doing so she became the only Canadian female, and the first Canadian Forces Member to achieve both versions of the Seven Summits!

In April 2008, Meagan McGrath crossed the finish line at the 2008 Marathon des Sables — a gruelling 7-day race through the Sahara desert. She exceeded even her own expectations, placing 24th among the top 25 women in the race!

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