Top 10 Expeditions of 2018: #7: Holly Harrison walks Argentina-Alaska

Over the last 12 months, ExplorersWeb has documented incredible adventures in climbing, cycling, running, walking, skiing and anything involving force of will and dedication to a dream in the outdoors. As this year comes to a close, we present our countdown of the Top 10 Expeditions of 2018.


Harrison on crutches. Photo: Holly Harrison

Maintaining a ripping pace for a solid year and a half, despite serious injury and illness, Holly “Cargo” Harrison hiked 23,305km from Ushuaia, Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 530 days. The 55-year-old former Army Ranger confronted multiple time zones, climates and dangers native to the countries along his route. Persevering after a rocky start with a torn tendon in 2015, Harrison recovered and continued a year later, assisted by bulky hiking poles built from leaf blower parts and baseball bats.

He constantly struggled to take in enough calories. Lack of food and the further strain of his unorthodox choices of accommodation — hostels, camp sites and “hotels under the highway” (culverts, bridges) — led to a hamstring injury and a heart attack. He continued undaunted. For the last 3,200km, he resorted to crutches to support himself.

Harrison makes it to Canada. Photo: Holly Harrison

The crux of his trip — as with #9 on our list, long-distance cyclist Radu Paltineanu — was the Darien Gap. Drug smugging and insurgency are rampant in this dense jungle. The tracklessness creates ideal for cover from authorities. Harrison crossed this 106km break between Panama and Columbia uneventfully, with the help of a guide.

However, at the Panamanian border, he was taken for an illegal immigrant or a criminal. The border patrol detained him for several days and seized his passport. Finally, he was released and continued his relentless march.

The highlight for Harrison was reuniting in Nevada with his daughter, whom he had not seen since she was a toddler. Harrison is now getting used to a new sort of marathon: sitting at a desk, writing a book about his adventures.

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Holly Harrison’s Walk