As NASA flounders, stargazing entrepreneurs look to bring outdoor pursuits to a planet near you. British übermum Alison Hargreaves attempts a female first on Everest. The self-proclaimed world's best ultrarunner tries to prove it at the Western States 100. A record-setting aviator turns Arctic explorer to fly home a downed WWII bomber. Plus: America's premier cycling race returns--shouldn't you be watching?; an unlikely hot-air balloon novice becomes the first to solo the Pacific; a fearless Frenchman hits 111 mph to claim a new mountain-bike speed mark; and more.
The Wild File
Do crocodiles cry? How do you get a star named after you? Why do tornadoes hate trailer parks?
Alaska's wild parklands: a guide to tackling the vast, rugged preserves of the limitless Last Frontier. Also, ways to minimize dangers in the Great North and advice on traveling where roads are few. England by narrowboat: a four-mile-an-hour view from the lush inland waterways. Plus: mountain-biking, hiking, and fishing in Maine's Carrabassett Valley; the primordial greenery of northern California's Fern Canyon; working vacations in Borneo with the world's foremost orangutan expert; and more.
Affordable suspension mountain bikes: seven worthy steeds that will put a little spring in your stroke without putting you in the poorhouse. Easy in, easy out: the best new off-road clipless pedals. Two-wheeler bric-a-brac: accessories for street and trail. The efficient angler: Bridger Mountain's Fishing Pack System. Plus: An in-the-ear amplifier that does for hearing nature what binoculars do for seeing it; Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run, an environmental pep talk from David Brower; Moo, a new novel by Jane Smiley; and more.
Between the Lines
Plagues at the Gate
They are virulent, microscopic menaces, diseases so deadly that they could swiftly destroy our nation's livestock and send the economy into a free fall--which leaves the government with the daunting task of keeping them from our shores. It's a battle being waged across the globe, and in the command center on tiny Plum Island, the folks in the lab coats are on red alert. By Charles Siebert
Big Bass and the Men Who Love Them
To the anglers who rise before dawn to ply Los Angeles's Castaic Lake, he is the grail in scales, the quickest way to turn a lifelong obsession into a lifelong payday. That's because Sow Belly is soon to be the largest largemouth ever landed--if one of the boys stalking the beast can just figure out where he's hiding. By Brad Wetzler
Newtie, We Hardly Knew Ye
Surprisingly green as an eager young wonk, he's now making noises that have environmentalists quaking. But could we possibly be looking at a cuddly future with the new Speaker of the House? A nervous assessment. By Ned Martel
Where the Deer and the Presidents Play
Eavesdropping at the ranger desks of our national parks, where never is heard a discouraging word--but you might catch a perplexing question or two. By Debra Shore
Along South Africa's Modder River, the last of the red-crested herons filled their lonely world. When it vanished, the father and daughter ghosted the midnights in search of its fleeting song. A short story by Lisa Fugard
Fitness Special: May the Better VO2 Max Win
There is no stronger motivator than sibling rivalry--especially if you're training for a 15-mile race that's 12 weeks away. But what's the best way to prepare? A look at both the high- and low-tech ends of the fitness spectrum, where two very different trainers readied their charges to settle a fraternal score. By Todd and Tom Balf
Plus: Expert insight into the Balfs' endurance, strength, nutrition, and psychology. By Sara Corbett and Dana Sullivan