My parents were arctic adventurers who recorded their nomadic lives in books and early documentaries. Childhood treks with them kindled a deep love for nature in me, and I too spent my youth wandering Alaska’s remote Brooks Range. My first book is about those years of solitude. Arctic Daughter: A Wilderness Journey became a Reader’s Digest selection and is again available.
I was drawn back to this wilderness in 1992 with my husband, Tom Irons, our six-year-old son, Luke, and friend Laurie Schacht. We four were flown into the mountains and left along the river a few miles above my old cabin. Here we built a log home, which we call Kernwood, and lived alone for more than fourteen months. When spring again freed the land, we embarked on a month-long canoe voyage back to civilization. Throughout our sojourn in this vast solitude we candidly recorded our lives. Eventually, we produced our documentary, Arctic Son: Fulfilling the Dream, which has shown on PBS stations across America, and I wrote my second book.
Over the decades our family returned often to Kernwood, gradually crafting several structures—each a s hand-hewn work of art. Tom and I still spend a third of each year afoot in arctic wilderness, our lives a whimsical dance with the changing seasons. My memoir, Trusting the River, is scheduled for publication by Epicenter Press in April 2017. We are also working on a second documentary, Arctic Daughter: a Lifetime of Wilderness, which explores human belonging to the greater community of life.
When our beloved son, Lucas, died unexpectedly in 2012, we retreated to the solace of Kernwood. On this webpage you can read about our passage though grief and other experiences in Jeanie’s Garden and Tom’s Corner. There are pictures as well as a store page where you can buy our books and documentary. We hope you find value here for your own sacred journey.
Tom is seventy now and I am close behind; the time approaches when we will no longer be able to steward what we have created. Rather than leave Kernwood as a foothold for exploitation, we would honor this gracious land by consciously removing all human traces except for our memorial garden. One’s highest legacy may ultimately require our lightest touch. Unless we can pass it on in good conscience, we plan to film our final documentary, Rewilding Kernwood, as we dismantle and replant over all that we have built. We invite you to join us on this adventure, and hope you are inspired to pursue your own unique dreams of beauty, love and wonder. We are grateful for your enthusiasm. Please continue to share our work with your friends. Thank you for your support and your generous good wishes!
We are grateful for your enthusiasm. Please continue to share our work with your friends. Thank you for your support and your generous good wishes!
Jeanie Aspen and Tom Irons, June 2016