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Honeymooning on the River of No Return

As honeymoons go, Washington and Lee alumna Bjornen duPont Babock’s was, well, you can be the judge.

On Wednesday, April 18, the PBS series “Nature” will air “River of No Return,” which documents Bjornen’s year-long honeymoon trip with her husband, Isaac, as they travel through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.

Isaac had spent many years tracking wolves as part of a wolf reintroduction program in central Idaho, and he wanted to introduce Bjornen, of W&L’s Class of 1998, to the experience. The couple spent days waiting and watching for a chance to observe wolves and were rewarded for their patience with a number of fascinating encounters.

The Salmon River, which runs through the River of No Return Wilderness, was also a major character in the story, featuring the Chinook salmon migrating up the river to spawn, and the small birds known as dippers that feed on aquatic insects.

Adding to the drama of their adventure was Bjornen’s diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis just before they set out. Walking down the street would be problematic enough, but hiking through rugged terrain with a heavy backpack?

Bjornen’s physical struggles were a constant sub-theme. At one point during the film, she discussed her decision to persevere: “You make your choices and take your chances. Life comes with no guarantees. I choose an adventure with hardship over no adventure at all every time.”

After it airs on April 18, the video will be available online on the “Nature” website at PBS.org/nature, and DVDs can be purchased at the online store.

Earlier this month, Bjornen and Isaac discussed their honeymoon adventure on an episode of Idaho Public Television’s “Dialogue.” See that program below to hear from the producers themselves with a web special following that first video: