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Circling the Golden Mountains

Happy to finally, officially announce that I’ll be headed back to Central Asia this spring to circumnavigate the Altai Mountains by human-power. Read more at www.circlingthegoldenmountains.com, and be sure to Like our Facebook page Circling the Golden Mountains for up to the minute details.

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Speaking With Those That Do

I had the pleasure of interviewing two inspiring individuals for Adventure Journal this winter. Conversations ran from parenthood to adventure, from Antarctica to Afghanistan to the summit of Everest. Development pro Laurie Ashley, co-writer of Ski Afghanistan, shared great advice for living a fulfilling life, and wonderful stories of raising a child in Central Asia. I…

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Place-Based Storytelling

I had the opportunity to tell two of my favorite stories in February for Atlas Obscura. AO focuses on sharing unique and interesting places through high-order digital documentary and storytelling. The first piece focuses on Davsha, a small village on Lake Baikal that Bria and I were lucky enough to visit on our explorations in…

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Yukon Opens Major Wilderness to Mining, Violating Promises

This article originally appeared on Adventure Journal. AJ environmental coverage made possible in part by support from Patagonia. In the northeast corner of Canada’s Yukon Territory lies a pristine area seven times the size of Yellowstone, but without a single permanent resident and only one gravel road. This land, the Peel Watershed, forms one of the last…

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Blog Round-Up

Over the summer, we teamed up with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to collect lichen along our route in Mongolia and Siberia.  ASC is a fantastic organization that is helping to bring a little more meaning into the human-powered travels of people like me, and thereby bring it closer to real exploration.  I wrote a…

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It’s Time to Go Home

No one was waiting for us, save a startled old man and his silent, flower-print wife. The lights of smokestakes and cranes blinked in the darkness. Twelve hours on the water told in tight legs and swollen fingers, but stepping into shallow water washed equally from the great Amur and the incoming tide of the…

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NOLS Canoeing is in Stores!

While doing paperwork after a cold and snowy hiking course in Colorado, I was happily interrupted by the delivery of small package with ten copies of my first book.  After a year and a half of edits, it is finally here: something I can touch, hold, and flip through.  It is an amazing feeling to…

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Baikal

At the turn off for Ust Barguzin, there is a giant burning pile of trash. I mean truly big. The first thing you see is a Soviet-era – and style – rusted metal obelisk with the letters ‘Ust – Barguzin’ ( in Cyrillic ) over a cracked turquoise wave. Then, as you turn the corner,…

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Buryatia

A warm breeze ruffles sun dresses and flips the corners of cloth chess boards on benches and tables scattered around the fountain. Tchaikovsky blares on battered loud speakers above, while the afternoon shadow of the State Ballet creeps over the square. Lenin’s head glowers across the way, his 5,000 pound steel mustache jutting and razor…

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Facebook & Photos

If you haven’t seen the Asia River’s Facebook page, head over and check it out.  The micro-blogging and social connectedness that FB offers works well for a project like this, and there is a lot of good information on our big summer plans.  Below are a few of the photos and map captures I’ve been…

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Asia Rivers Expedition in Canoe & Kayak

Canoe & Kayak Magazine has published a few of my articles this spring, both in print and online, and has been a great magazine to work with.  This morning they posted an article about the upcoming Asia Rivers Expedition, where my expel mate Bria and I will be paddling across Mongolia, Siberia, and the Russian Far…

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Asia Rivers Expedition Fundraising

It’s official- the Asia Rivers Expedition is going to happen, and our fundraising page is up!  We need your help to bring this exploration into being, and to make sure that the story of wild rivers is told to as wide an audience as possible.  Please, whether or not you can spare a few dollars…

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Polartec Piece

Polartec just added a short piece I wrote to their Just a Zipper blog. The text is below, but jet over to their blog for the photos that accompany it as well heaps of other stories from explorations near and far. I am so pleased to have the support of a company like this, it…

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Team Awarded a Polartec Challenge Grant!

I am thrilled to announce that my team and I have been awarded a Polartec Challenge Grant! The Challenge Grant program has been funding far-reaching expeditions for 22 years, and has gone to many big names over the years- I am in august company, the company of adventurers like Conrad Anker, Jon Turk, Erik Boomer, and Jimmy Chin. Polartec, the leader in technical outdoor fabrics, kindly funds this Grant each year as part of their commitment to pushing the limits of exploration and adventure, and as a sign of their cognizance of where their mana comes from. I am very excited to be partnering with a program and a company…

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The Last Camp

There is cleaning to be done. The bags have to emptied out and packed anew, breaking set habits; calls need to be made and arrangements confirmed. A bag of trash consolidated and fuel shuttled off, and all things separated and divorced from their expedition-spun meanings. The goal needs to be put to bed, silenced, zip-tied…

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Cycling the Celestial Mountains, in Winter

Kyrgyzstan has been good to us. Our first pass over 3000m was bright and sunny, making sunburn a new and oddly welcome hazard. The good weather followed us almost all the way to Bishkek, giving out in a fit of cold and snow as we skated out of Kara Balta. Thankfully, friends were awaiting our…

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Cycling the Celestial Mountains, in Winter

Kyrgyzstan has been good to us. Our first pass over 3000m was bright and sunny, making sunburn a new and oddly welcome hazard. The good weather followed us almost all the way to Bishkek, giving out in a fit of cold and snow as we skated out of Kara Balta. Thankfully, friends were awaiting our…

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From the Sea to the Mountains

After a rushed week of visa hassles, decrepit Soviet cargo ships, and a series of overnight trains across Turkmenistan (our visa only gave us 5 days to cross the country), we crossed into Uzbekistan and rattled northeast to Bukhara, a beautiful and gritty Silk Road waypoint. The Caspian was our last tenuous connection to obvious…

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In the Shadow of the Greater Caucasus

Celebrating your birthday in a foreign capital is a special experience. The strange displays of wealth and the contrasts of Turkic history overlaid with inept Soviet industrial management and modern oil booms make Baku an odd and occasionally frustrating place to explore. Still, on my birthday, everything seems to be falling into place: we found…

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Across Iceland

“You have a very nice walking route, but you must reconsider going close to the Vatnajokull.  A volcano erupted last month and vaporized a part of the glacier, and the water cut a 50-foot canyon overnight.  You will be trapped there.”  Sound advice.  The ranger’s perfect English was unsettling in the haunting, beautiful wasteland of…

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Everest Attempt Needs Support

My friend and former supervisor Phil Henderson is heading off to Nepal in a few weeks as part of a team that is attempting to summit Everest this Boreal spring.  The team includes Conrad Anker and a number of former students of Phil’s from the Khumbu Climbing School.  Phil would be the first African-American male…

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Cycling Silk Interviews

If you’ve talked to me in the last year, then you have probably heard me gush about one of the greatest explorations of the year, the Cycling Silk expedition.  One year ago today Mel Yule and Kate Harris were in the heart of Turkey and starting the second week of their journey.  Ten months later,…

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The End of the Road

The following post was originally published as a feature on Canoe & Kayak magazine’s website, and completes the five part coverage of the Trans-Europa Expedition (post one, post two, post three, post four, and the post below) that C&K put up. Walking the promenade at dusk, the deepening red-purple of the Black Sea horizon acts much like the…

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Canoe & Kayak En Route Posts

Two nice posts from the Trans-Europa were added to Canoe & Kayak Magazine’s website last week.  Check out their website for post #1 and post #2. We are resting comfortably in Belgrade after a 500 kilometer run from Budapest in a respectable seven days.  Tomorrow we push towards the Iron Gates and Romania.  Stay tuned.

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To Carry the Schwarzwald

Last night, we finished the portage to the source of the Danube.  It is just over 100 kilometers of steep, winding roads from the River Rhine to Donaueschingen, all cut through dense conifer forest and high altitude farmland.  Just as we entered Germany and lost sight of the Rhine, the weather finally turned.  After nineteen…

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Bescancon

In Bescancon, there is a massive citadel that looms three hundred feet above the river, and it is full of monkeys. Agile gibbons, golden monkeys, buffoons, and so on. In a fortress older than the United States, in France, on the side of the river we are paddling, there are lots and lots of monkeys,…

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A Free Croissant

A free croissant is a free croissant. In Vouvray, I was walking the winding streets with a 3/16 inch drill bit and an arm load of lumber encoded with pencil etchings and measurements. I was in search of a drill press, as our portage cart had disintegrated two days before and our only option was…

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Nantes, and the Debut de la Trans-Europa

There are eight different names for white gas in French.  This does not mean that the helpful people at the mountaineering shop, or the hardware stores, or the sporting goods stores knew where to find it.  In fact, it does not exist in the coeur ville de Nantes. The fact that our stove runs on unleaded gasoline meant littl today- there are no gas stations within 5km of the city center.  No essence C, no petrol filtree, no desaromatisee de petrole, and no autogaz sans plomb within walking distance.  In the lead up to the launch tomorrow, however, the lack of stove fuel is a minor hiccup.  In all, things…

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New Sponsors

With the Trans-Europa beginning in less than a week, the details seem to finally be coming together.  I am proud to announce that the following sponsors have joined the project. In addition to the above, the support of Omni Resources (maps) was invaluable.  The National Outdoor Leadership School Yukon Branch kindly let me borrow some gear for the duration of the expedition.

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Featured Expedition: Charakusa Valley

In the far north of Pakistan, where the Karakorum Range looms over the upper reaches of the Indus River, stand the walls of the Charakusa Valley and what has been described as the largest and most beautiful granite valley in the world.  Four weeks from now, an expedition including a few friends of mine will leave to attempt a new route on a flank of 22,750 foot tall K7 called Nafee’s Cap. The expedition consists of Josh Beckner, Jake Tipton, Ben Venter, and Willy Oppenheim- all professional guides and instructors with the experience to make this a reality, and the creativity to dream it up in the first place.  The big wall…

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Headed North

The air smells different in the North; it is clean and crisp and straight from the lungs of ten billion spruce trees; after so long away, it hits with the force of a deep and intentive intoxication.  Every year since I was thirteen, I have gone ‘north’ in some form, and each year, I went…

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Spring Paddling in Maine

“Uh. Yeah… Are we bailing on this run?” I scratched my head, smiled, and reached down to unzip the duffel bag that held our rescue kit. “It would appear that is a strong possibility.” Forty minutes later I was post-holing through knee deep snow with a canoe on my head, chuckling at the day’s events.…

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Boating Middle Earth

I am not unique, interesting, or worldly.  As proof, my first real exposure to New Zealand was when I saw the Fellowship of the Ring in the theater.  Sparked by the visual dimension of the film, I quickly covered lost ground by reading every scrap of history, science, and literature I could about the place, and eventually applied to study abroad there during college.  Although that did not work out, my job took me there last fall and I was able to explore the mountains and rivers of Middle-Earth for seven months. Not surprisingly, most Kiwis I met were so over the Lord of the Rings thing- hordes of foreign tourists jetting…

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In Outside Magazine

There are not many public computers in Havelock. The green-lipped mussel capital of the world has more boats in the harbor than people on the streets- even if you count the tourists. I had just finished the first fifty days of the semester course I was teaching, and with time to kill before we drove…

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New Zealand by Bike, Sort of

The wind was hurtling up and over the tussock choked pass, each gust stealing away the myriad ‘konnichiwa’s from smiling, elderly tourists. The sweat had dried, etching salty Rorschach designs all across my shirt; below, the road twisted down the way I had come- steep enough to make me glad it was a memory. Rising…

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Down to the Sea

The portage around Presumpscot Falls on the Presumpscot River was among the most dangerous carries of the trip. It was short, well marked, and had solid footing, but I could smell salt water and my mind was wandering to other places. The falls had been underwater for over 200 years, but with the removal of…

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North America by Canoe, Le Fin

Yesterday I drove up to the local canoe & kayak shop near my parents house to drop off my canoe. From the beginning, I was to use the Magic 16′ thatBell Canoe Works let me borrow and then return it or buy it. Being destitute, I returned it. Standing in the parking lot, I said…

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