Look Inside: Susan Conrad’s Inside Gets Outside and In the Water
“There’s a difference between fear—that unpleasant emotion associated with the belief that someone or something is a threat—and being scared,” Susan Conrad writes in her book Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage.
Conrad is having a number of book signings in the Rogue Valley in promotion of her book at Northwest Outdoor Store, REI, and Bloomsbury Books this month. Along with book signings she has an accompanying slideshow to reveal her difficult journey.
“Inside is a story about a solo journey through the physical, emotional, and spiritual landscapes of the Inside Passage of British Columbia and SE Alaska,” says Conrad. “It’s a Northwest story, about landscapes that are still rugged and untamed, about finding solitude in a world designed not to grant it, and about finding a strong connection to the natural environment, all while struggling to move a little further north each day. It’s a story of one woman’s quest—and it’s a story for the adventurer in all of us.”
Her book has garnered several reviews from kayaking professionals and authors, some who have even taking on the Inside Passage too. Nigel Foster, kayak designer and author, writes, “Susan Conrad reveals her background; some ghosts she was determined to come to terms with. She reveals her hopes and her fears. She reveals the emotion that spending so long in such an impartial environment invokes.”
The Inside Passage is a network of channels interlacing through the Pacific Northwest––more specifically British Colombia, Alaska, and Washington. The passage is around 1,200 miles, and offers more than just kayaking, but also hiking, camping, and wildlife.
Conrad wrote the book to not only share her journey with others, but to take them along with her, vicariously experiencing the challenges and successes she faced. “This journey has become a paradigm of my life’s journey, a benchmark of sorts for everything that comes my way,” she says. “It’s remembering that it’s not about the destination.”
An SOU graduate of the Outdoor Program in the late 80s, she was a whitewater raft guide. Here her love for kayaking was rooted and quickly blossomed into a deep passion. She says, “While floating on Southern Oregon rivers, I found myself mesmerized by the lithesome whitewater kayaks playing so nimbly in all the river features and thought it would be fun to try.”
What wasn’t so fun she included in her book, which she explains were things as simple as the change in weather which spiked up her stress. She wrote in the chapter “Fear Stuck Still”: “Sometimes my fear and I would engage in a robust tug-of-war; me courageously pulling away from the fear, then the fear yanking me back off balance. My anxiety levels shifted with the moods of the sea. When the winds kicked up, my apprehension meter swung into the red zone. Calm seas swung it back, as did sunshine.”
She describes the journey as a “life-long opportunity I was given to challenge and discover myself.” She adds, “It is my hope that the pages of this book will kindle everyone’s sense of adventure––whether they set foot in a kayak or not—and that by sharing the magic of this beautiful coastline, it will impart a stronger connection to the natural environment and inspire people not only to explore it, but to cherish and protect it.”
Anyone who attends one of these events will learn about the vast ecosystem and wonders of the Inside Passage. Not only that, attendees will also have the chance to vicariously experience the adventure Susan Conrad dared embark upon.
Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage
6:30 pm, Thursday, April 13, REI Medford, 85 Rossanley Drive, Medford
7 pm, Tuesday, April 18, Bloomsbury Books, 290 East Main St., Ashland