Journeys That Open the Heart

Whitehorse musician and adventurer Thorin Loeks is off on another journey.

On June 4th, Loeks started to hitchhike from his home just outside of Whitehorse up to Dawson City where began a cycling trip. His initial plan was to bicycle south to Montana. There, he was going to switch his bike for a paddle, and canoeing the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, a journey that would have been over 8000 km long.

Now, his cycling trip will take him to Vancouver. Along the way, he’ll interview people in different communities, asking what are the greatest challenges and strengths to the places they live. He will use the trip and interviews as inspiration to write new songs. After that, he’ll head back to school, to finish the final year in a communications program.

Loeks says he wants to spend more time in western Canada — “There is so much to learn, love, and explore about what is right at our fingertips,” he wrote in an email.

He says the Missouri River will just have to wait for a better suited time. And, it will. Loeks has been doing epic journeys for the past few years.

Four years ago, he backpacked through South America for five months. There he had a dream that he was going to bicycle across the U.S.A and Canada. Instead of going back to the Yukon after that trip, he did just as he had dreamed.

He bicycled from Astoria, Oregon across America and up through Canada, concluding the journey in Portland, Maine carrying his guitar on the back.

“It just really opened my eyes to how many amazing people there are out there,” Loeks says. “Everyone has a story and there is just these beautiful people and beautiful talents that really, you don’t hear about on mainstream media and CBC.”

The trip was a pivotal point for him, creatively.

“It really just opened my eyes and that was a foundational experience for my music and that’s when I started writing music. “

Two years ago, Loeks had another adventure. In the summer of 2014 he canoed down the Mississippi. He hitchhiked to Minnesota and paddled from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.

“That really opened up my eyes as well,” Loeks says. “I did a videography project about happiness. So I interviewed dozens of people going down the river, probably hundreds, and asked them questions about their life and their stories and just having conversations with people… I was videotaping it and asking them questions about what brought them to where they are in life, what was happiness being for them, what are qualities that they really liked in other people and what is advice that they would give the next generation – it was a really enriching experience.”

He released the videos on Youtube in 12-part series called “A search for happiness”.

Loeks believes people should do what they love.

“The two most important things that we can do with our life is meaningfully connect with other people in the world around us and do things that we are passionate about,” he says. “I think there are many people doing that, but there are also many people who aren’t, but have that potential. We all are so much more capable than what we realize. We all have those talents and gifts inside of us in our own unique ways and I just want to see that come out of people and I want to go meet more people who are doing the things that they love and learn from them and spread their message to a larger audience.”

Last year’s adventure was to canoe down the Wind River and the Peel River Watershed to Fort McPherson. From there he hitchhiked to Inuvik, then bicycled to Dawson City on the Dempster Highway. It was an experience of connecting with nature.

He is now embarking on a trip that is one part adventure, one part video project and one part learning through living.

“I wanted this next trip that I am doing this summer to be a way of tying all these other stories together,” he says. “This time it’s about community. It’s about what brings people together to do the things that they love to do”

Loeks does what he loves.

He was in Whitehorse in June. During that time, he filled Well-Read Books with music.  He played songs from his album Thirsty Hearts, as well as some of his unpublished songs, covers and his brand new song, written just a couple of days before. Between playing the guitar, harmonica and singing, Loeks told stories from his adventures and the stories behind the songs. Loeks is going to perform and share his music along the way of his journey.

I am sure when he comes back home from this summer’s adventure he will have more stories and more music to share with the people around him.

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