After 23,000 miles of long-distance hiking, mostly in the Lower 48, I was confident in my ability to pull off big treks. My planning was meticulous, my gear and food prep dialed, and my mental fortitude was proven. Or so I thought. Then I embarked on a 4,700-mile route through Alaska and Yukon’s wildest backcountry. I wish I’d known that there, nature is in the driver’s seat, always. At one of my lowest points, I got stuck in a snowstorm at the bottom of two avalanche-prone passes. Stopping and waiting drove me crazy—this wasn’t going according to plan. I contemplated backtracking or calling in a bush plane. Eventually, I made it, but it was on Alaska’s schedule, not mine.