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The Commons: Crawling to Ecstasy

These physical journeys have become a spiritual quest, guiding me into old age with some semblance of equanimity and health.

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Jon Turk kayaking

Erik Boomer

When I was 65, National Geographic nominated me and my 27-year-old partner, Erik Boomer, as one of the “Top Ten Adventure Teams” in the world, for an expedition where we skied, walked, crawled, and kayaked 1,500 miles around Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic. I don’t know of any other athlete, in any sport, who has attained that high a global ranking at that age. Of course, the fact that I nearly killed myself from simple exhaustion, leaping and paddling through ice floes, can be considered foolhardy. But think of it this way: For almost all of the three million years of evolution, every human being on this planet lived a life of continuous adventure in the wilderness. My theory is that by reclaiming a deep relationship with purple flowers and angry polar bears we can find a path to thriving in this politically terrifying, Internet-crazed, oil-soaked, consumer-addicted society. Here’s an example:One day on the Ellesmere expedition, we were dragging our kayaks across broken sea ice in the Polar Ocean. The ice was melting to form slushy pools on the surface, but the jagged pressure ridges …

Jon Turk’s new book is Crocodiles and Ice: a Journey into Deep Wild. He also wrote The Raven’s Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey through the Siberian Tundra. jonturk.net


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AdventureSelf-ExplorationWritingTravel

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