Adventure and activism: The worth is out there

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  1. ​When I regained consciousness, I saw that Mike had also passed out. We were lying in snow at about 17,000 feet on the side of Mount Popocatepetl in Mexico. When he came to, we retreated down to bare volcanic ash, buffeted by an incoming storm but relishing richer air.
  2. As Martin and I cheerily entered the hugely biodiverse Mata Atlantica forest in Brazil, the first creature we saw was a 3- to 4-foot-long jararaca, one of the most venomous pit vipers in South America. It was rustling through a layer of leaves between the tree trunks of its kingdom. We paused to let it pass, then eased warily down the narrow trail with blunted cheer.
  3. On a storm-riven night in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Pam and I lay wide awake in a snapping tent, its puny frame highlighted by almost constant flashes of lightning. We listened helplessly to drumming rain, rolling thunder, and the crashing of broken and uprooted trees. We’d be eating that frame or we wouldn’t.
  4. I hiked several miles through Sitka spruce forest to the base of a glacier in southeast Alaska, and amid the freshets emerging from the ice, smelled a strong and pungent odor of bear. Was it a black or a grizzly? Locals had deemed this solo trek unwise. ​
  5. On a subzero day in northern Minnesota, I broke through the ice of a pond, immersed to the waist. I shattered a path to shore where my pants froze solid, encased in ice. I lumbered — stiff-legged — for two miles in deep snow before reaching shelter.
  6. While paddling a northern Minnesota river swollen with
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