At the age of 26 best-selling author Cheryl Strayed strapped on a backpack and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Over the course of 94 days she traveled...moreAt the age of 26 best-selling author Cheryl Strayed strapped on a backpack and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Over the course of 94 days she traveled from Mojave California to the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks Oregon, just outside of Portland where she lives today. Four years after loosing her mother who died of cancer Strayed ventured into the wilds of nature in order to find a part of herself she felt was missing. With absolutely now experience in backpacking she made the impulsive decision to deal with her unimaginable grief with an impossible adventure.
"I was in such a place of desperation at that moment in my life that I needed something big. I needed a journey. I needed to go, to get myself to a different place. As I say in my book to gather myself, back to myself," said Strayed in an interview And I knew that that wasn’t going to be a bunch of day hikes as I traveled and car camped. It needed to be a journey into the wild.
While hiking the PCT Strayed encountered much of what you might expect on a long backpacking trip. But she’d find there was more in store for her than bug bits, blisters and sunburn. Along the miles of her journey she discovered the strength to endure the pain and suffering of loss while coming to the understanding that like the trail before her life goes on.
Cheryl Strayed was the key note speaker at the biannual breakfast meeting of the Conservation Alliance during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had the opportunity to talk to her about her book Wild and the circumstances that started her long journey after the sudden death of her mother. Listen to the complete interview with the author on the Joy Trip Project podcast: http://joytripproject.com/2013/wild-a...(less)
In 2003 Aron Ralston was brash young man looking for adventure. But while exploring the slot canyons of the Utah desert he found himself trapped miles...moreIn 2003 Aron Ralston was brash young man looking for adventure. But while exploring the slot canyons of the Utah desert he found himself trapped miles from home deep within a underground chasm his right arm crushed and pinned by a massive boulder. There he lay stranded with no hope of rescue for five days. Rolston’s story was portrayed in the 2010 film 127 Hours starting James Franko.
In order to escape from circumstance that would have meant certain death Ralston was forced to amputate his own arm. But he would go one to inspire millions through his incredible story of survival and perseverance through his bestselling book Between a Rock & a Hard Place. Ralston was the keynote speaker at the bi-annual meeting of the Conservation Alliance during 2012 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City Utah. Immediately following his presentation I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his ordeal and what inspired him to live to tell his story. Click the link below to listen to the interview http://joytripproject.org/2012/127-ho...(less)
Before They're Gone by Michael Lanza is cautionary journey that explores the likely outcomes in store for our National Parks should we ignore the grow...moreBefore They're Gone by Michael Lanza is cautionary journey that explores the likely outcomes in store for our National Parks should we ignore the growing threat of climate change. And typical of most modern problems, not unlike our current economic crisis, those to be most directly effected by our generations' failure to act won't be ourselves but our children. Taking his two young kids on a year-long odyssey to visit America's most iconic wild places, Lanza leads us all on an expedition through the world we stand to lose and future generations may never see.
Not to be confused with a manual on better parenting through outdoor education, Before They're Gone has much to teach anyone who aims to preserve the National Parks we had the good sense to set aside. I'm childless by choice. In the third decade of a prolonged adolescence my decision not to have kids was first born out of the selfish desire to maintain my lifestyle without dependents and secure my role as the least mature person in my family. Mission accomplished. But now with that humanity faces the dire consequences of rising global temperatures I can only take small satisfaction in not contributing to the problem by adding to the surplus population. Even though I don't have children I'm still eager to leave a tidy planet for those of my family and friends who do. And Lanza clearly illustrates through anecdotal and scientific evidence those environmental features we love that will probably go away.
Lanza's travel with his children puts into direct context the true impact of climate change on our favorite recreation areas. The streams that provide drinking water for backpackers along the Grand Canyon or Yosemite Falls will likely dry up. Species of mega-fauna like the grizzly bear will lose primary sources of food. The Joshua Tree, that grows best in the national park that bares its name, will compromise its ability to reproduce and disappear. Much of the Florida Everglades will be submerged beneath a torrent of rising sea water. The list goes on. You don't have to be a parent to mourn the loss of any one of these precious natural artifacts. And due primarily to human activity on this planet we stand the chance to lose them all.
Ironically I had the pleasure of reading Lanza's book while on an extended National Park tour of my own. This summer I visited many of the same places he took his children, a few for the very first time. Lanza's presentation encourages a sense of urgency to not only travel and to visit these wilderness areas but to make sustainable lifestyle choices to help preserve them. With a better appreciation for exactly how endangered each location truly was I came away with a profound sense of gratitude. Though no children of mine will ever see them I truly hope that those of others will. I'm just glad that I had the chance before they're gone.
The problem with the American dream is too often we’re caught sleeping. At the very least we let our attention wander in the bliss of freedom as the t...moreThe problem with the American dream is too often we’re caught sleeping. At the very least we let our attention wander in the bliss of freedom as the things in life that matter most fail neglected or are simply taken away.
In his new book former special adviser to the Obama White House Van Jones drafts a thoughtful plan for the reconstruction of simple American ideals and principles that secure the dream of a better life for everyone willing to work hard and play fair. With a vision centered on the benefits of a fully integrated green economy and practices of sustainable living Jones’ book Rebuild the Dream offers up a detailed analysis of the circumstances that led to the raise of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement. The author also provides a game plan for political activists looking to transform hope into lasting change and get the U.S. economy working again for everyone. read there rest of this review at The Joy Trip Project.org : http://joytripproject.org/2012/rebuil...(less)
Typically political action can take shape only when the general populous is rallied and motivated to take a stand. When it comes to building awareness...moreTypically political action can take shape only when the general populous is rallied and motivated to take a stand. When it comes to building awareness for issues of environmental protection it’s especially difficult because those regions most in need of protecting are usually far away from the public eye. That’s why an organization called the International League of Conservation Photographers goes out into some of the most remote habitats in the world to document the current condition of delicate ecosystems at risk of destruction.
“I’ve been working in the Sacred Headwaters region since about 2009, now,” said ILCP photographer Paul Colangello. “And really briefly, the Sacred Headwaters is where three salmon bearing rivers all begin in one region of Northern British Columbia. So it’s the Stakeen, the Skeena and the Nass. It’s also home to one of the largest predator prey ecosystems in North America and it’s the traditional territory of the Tahltan first nation.” Paul Colangelo is one of several members of the ILCP working to protect the Sacred Headwaters of British Columbia. This region is among the largest temperate rainforests in North America. But over the past few years it’s been flooded with proposed resource extraction projects. The biggest of which is Shell Oil’s million acre, coalbed methane tenure right in the heart of the headwaters. Others include an open pit gold and copper mine and a mountain top removal coal mine. But the push back among the local population has been fierce. Approximately 1,500 members of the indigenous Tahltan nation have raised a lot of public awareness through blockades and sit-ins. They were actually able to stop Shell, the second largest corporation in the world. “Well somewhat stop them,” Colangelo said. “They achieved a four year moratorium. But this will be lifted in december of 2012. And so we’ve been working in the area. That’s when the ILCP got involved too and produced a RAVE.”
A RAVE is a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition. A team of world-class photographers like Colangelo along with videographers and journalists go into endangered regions such as the Sacred Headwaters and work to tell its story.
“We’re trying to bring the Sacred Headwaters to people, because it’s so remote,” Colangelo said. “Most people even living in British Columbia have never even heard about it. So we’re pretty much just trying to raise awareness. And we’re hoping to get people’s support for the protection of this area.”
Paul Colagello’s work along with eight other members of the ILCP culminated in a book written by National Geographic explorer Wade Davis called Sacred Headwaters Sacred Journey. I had a chance to talk to Colangello back in 2011 during the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Alberta Canada. There he shared the story behind his amazing photographs and the RAVE launched to protect this remote region at risk. Check out my interview with him at The Joy Trip Project:http://joytripproject.org/201...(less)
When it comes to adventure writing the sharpest literary minds draw on the subject matter they know best. Author Angie Abdou brings to her latest book...moreWhen it comes to adventure writing the sharpest literary minds draw on the subject matter they know best. Author Angie Abdou brings to her latest book themes from an ancient English text first made popular in the middle ages.
“I was a medievalist in a past life, which is a weird thing to be,” Angie said at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. “But before I took up fiction writing I taught medieval studies.” You may remember from courses in English lit the classic travel stories known collectively as the Canterbury Tales. Written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century it’s a dark ages joy trip that follows the path of Christian pilgrims on their way from London to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.
“And I think for people who haven’t read Chaucer they think it’s a classic text and that it must be serious and religious,” Angie said. “But Chaucer is a raunchy, bawdy, wild, wild text. And I always like the idea of how it might manifest, or turn into a contemporary novel, because he’s writing social satire of the whole breath of medieval society. And he uses the devise of a pilgrimage to bring together diverse groups that wouldn’t otherwise spend time together. So he has the fighters and prayers and workers and women and men and upper and lower, people who would normally never interact, but they’re together for the space of this pilgrimage. And so he’s able to satire the whole group. And so I thought where I live, what’s a pilgrimage? And it’s the back country ski-touring trek.”
Set in the fictional town of Coalton, somewhere in the Canadian Rockies Abdou tells in her book the many stories of mountain people. Drawn to a remote ski lodge by the last big snow dump of the year, these stereotypical nature lovers gather to offer up a bit of social satire on those who lead an active lifestyle.
“So you have the redneck snowmobiles and the pothead ski-bums and the snowshoeing hippies and they’re all…this developer guy who wants to cess out the territory and all the different groups from my town are headed back to the backcountry,” Angie said. “So I get to get them together and I put them in the same hut in the back country and see what happens!”
The tales are every bit as raunchy, bawdy and wild as anything Chaucer ever wrote. And in the classic style of the medieval poet Angie Abdou shares a comical story our own lives in adventure she calls The Canterbury Trail.
Writer and former director of the Banff Mountain Film Festival Bernadette McDonald has new book that offers a unique perspective on high altitude clim...moreWriter and former director of the Banff Mountain Film Festival Bernadette McDonald has new book that offers a unique perspective on high altitude climbing in the Himalaya. As the author of several titles on the subject she’s well regarded in the international mountaineering community. And back in 2003 she came up with an idea for this latest project at an adventure film festival in Poland.
“And as most ideas do, this one began at a party,” McDonald said.
It was the after party of this festival and McDonald was in the clubhouse of the Katowice Mountain Club. She knew a number of these climbers from her years working at the festival. But in this particular situation she was sort of swamped with them, she said. There were dozens of climbers in this clubhouse and there was a lot of energy in the room.
“But it wasn’t just about the festival. It was about a community of the hardest core climbers I had ever seen in my life,” McDonald said. “And the stories that I heard that night, the passion and the depth of their history in the mountains absolutely astonished me. But the other thing that struck me was that it felt like it was the end of an era because a lot of the best of those climbers had already died in the mountains. It felt a bit like an Irish wake. That’s the way it struck me and I thought there was a story here. Because the situation in which they grew up, the conditions, the hardships that they endured were so different than anything that I had ever experienced and more different than most people I knew had experienced. And I somehow felt that those two things were linked.”
From the mid1970s through the 1980s Polish climbers dominated the Himalayan mountaineering scene. This generation of adventurers rose up from the horrific occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II only to be subjugated afterward by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. For thousands of young people at that time the mountains were their only escape and many of them ventured far away from Poland into the high of places of Central Asia where they distinguished themselves among the best alpinists in the world. In her book Freedom Climbers Bernadette McDonald tells their story.
As an adventure journalist I have the opportunity to meet some amazing people. And it was through the magic of social media that I became friends with...moreAs an adventure journalist I have the opportunity to meet some amazing people. And it was through the magic of social media that I became friends with climber, writer and public speaker Jim Davidson. We first got acquainted on Facebook. But last year we met in person at a café in the Canadian Rockies, a town called Banff. There he told his incredible story of friendship, adventure and survival that’s the subject of his new book, “The Ledge”. On a routine decent of Mt. Rainer Jim and his climbing partner Mike Price suddenly fell and were trapped in a deep crevasse.
Jim’s partner Mike died in the fall. And it was only after several hours of painstaking effort that Jim was able all alone to climb his way to safety. Despite the tragic circumstances of his story as detailed in his book the Ledge today Jim finds great comfort in the lessons he’s learned through the power of persistence, determination and the bonds of friendship. Ironically these are life-long skills that Jim picked as a young a man not as a climber, but doing dangerous work with his father as a high altitude painter of tall buildings towers and bridges.