The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Among the faces lit by the glow of  last Friday evening’s firelight at the 49 Faces Kickoff Barbecue were members of the next generation of Alaskan adventurers. After a rousing session on the bike terrain park, young friends circled around the flames with halibut, hot dogs, and marshmallows.

Like all of our 49 Faces, these young Alaskans love to play outdoors. After the golden birch and aspen leaves fall, turn brown, and are buried in snow, they will swap bikes for skis, skates, and sleds. Some will harness pet huskies, and mush or skijor spruce-lined trails. Alaskan fall signals a transition time.

The big dipper and northern lights return to crisp,clear night skies and hard frosts greet the golden sunrise.  Fresh snow dusts higher elevations. Cyclists and hikers dig out gloves and headlamps. Paddlers search winter caches for extra layers, and coax partners into squeezing in a few more days on treasured stretches of wild rivers.

Louis-bikeFew people appreciate outdoor play on an Alaskan fall day more than eleven year old Louis Overington.  He launches his mountain bike off aspen-draped cut banks, loops around, pops a wheelie, and soars again. His smile is infectious.  The cabin he calls home in summer nestles on Otto Lake. Mount Healy graces the southern horizon. Denali National Park lies just beyond the ridge. Parking his bike, Louis pulls on layers of fleece and grabs his boating gear. Parents and friends load a rainbow assortment of whitewater kayaks in their truck. He’s soon donning drysuit, life jacket and helmet with a small group of paddlers on the banks of Riley Creek near the Park entrance.

Louis-canyonWith a paddle in Louis’ hands and waves under his boat, his joy infects all around him.  He snaps across swirling eddy lines on the big water rapids of the Nenana to catch surfs and spins on the waves.  When he flips, he rolls up with a huge grin, despite icy water and a stiff, cool breeze. He lines right up for another ride. His enthusiasm inspires the old folks to play harder. A friend, slightly nervous with anticipation on her first canyon run, can’t help but laugh as she watches Louis glide through chaotic wave trains and turbulent boils.

Louis is the face of the next generation. His parents, Bill “Buckwheat” Overington and Louise Lovrich, own Denali Outdoor Center. Buckwheat still keeps eyes in the back of his head wide open as Louis navigates class III & IV whitewater. It won’t be long before it’s Louis watching out for dad on more challenging runs.

Louis-LouiseWe hope that the 49 Faces of Alaskan Adventure iBook will capture the attention and imagination of kids around the world.  We hope to inspire them to experience the wonder and allure of recreating in wild country. The people we feature don’t consider immersion in remote wilderness as “extreme survival ordeals”. They don’t think of lofty summits and wild rivers as things to  “conquer”.  Today’s Alaskan adventurers may seed the dreams of tomorrow’s explorers.

We think that young people will embrace the multimedia iBook format.  We’d love to see more kids excited to hike and play outdoors with boats, skis, bikes, and dog-sleds.  We hope that they invest time they spend in front of screens reading about people like Louis and searching for their next adventure.

Louis, thanks for your energy and inspiration! Keep living large and playing hard!

Denali Outdoor Center has generously supported the 49 Faces of Alaskan Adventure Project. They have donated a gift certificate good through 2014 for a 4-hour raft trip through the scenic wilderness and whitewater canyon sections of the Nenana River near Denali Park. We will be holding a drawing for the trip on October 2nd.  All the people who pledge to back the 49 Faces Project on Kickstarter will be entered in the drawing. Thanks Buckwheat, Louise, and Louis for supporting the 49 Faces Project!




  1. Connie Fuller

    Wow !!! It is so fun to see Louis doing his thing. I was fortunate enough to be able to see his Dad do his on morotcycles !!! Great parents teach their children great things !! Go Overingtons !!!! Love you all. AC

  2. Great article! Louis is certainly a pretty awesome young man!

  3. Crazy like his mother ! and whats the thing with the halibut?

    • Louis and Louise are both crazy about having healthy fun! The Alaskan halibut was caught and grilled by Adele. We served it at a barbecue celebrating the kickoff of our 49 Faces project.

  4. Neda Mucalo

    It looks like Louis is having a good time. He is a brave lad.

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