The Outside Blog

Adventure : Adventure

In the Spirit of Peter Matthiessen

It’s difficult for me to believe that the indefatigable and incomparable writer Peter Matthiessen is dead. He succumbed to leukemia on April 5 at his home in Sagaponack, on Long Island, a few weeks before he would have turned 87. Over a six-decade career he produced 31 books—a final novel, In Paradise, appeared three days after his death—and left his footprints across a huge swath of the earth’s wild places. His questing intelligence, along with his unflagging stamina and contentiousness, were by turns inspiring and intimidating, and it seemed that he might go on forever.

He poured his heart into fiction, and three of his novels should be reckoned as indelible classics of recent American literature: At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965), Far Tortuga (1975), and Shadow Country (2008). But over five decades his restless spirit sent him out, notebook in hand, on one expedition after another, a vast cumulative itinerary in which Matthiessen embraced the natural world and the indigenous people and cultures who revered that ever-diminishing realm of numinous biodiversity. A very different novelist, Thomas Pynchon, in a blurb for Far Tortuga, wrote, “It’s full of music and strong haunting visuals and like everything of his, it’s also a deep declaration of love for the planet.” Yet Matthiessen became considerably more famous for his journalism than his fiction, which was something he came to wistfully resist and regret until the end of his life.

Matthiessen and his writing were enormously influential in establishing and shaping the literary aspirations of Outside, and he was a strong presiding presence in its pages from the publication’s earliest days. Randy Wayne White, one of the writer’s closest friends (and later an Outside columnist), profiled him for the brand-new magazine in 1980. Matthiessen’s own sporadic contributions include a rollicking, classic 1990 account of close encounters with roaming gangs of grizzly bears in the company of Doug Peacock, another legendary Outside character who had also become one of Matthiessen’s best friends and a perennial fishing buddy. In 1994, Outside published a feature by Matthiessen about his expedition to study endangered cranes in China that was eventually incorporated into The Birds of Heaven (2001).

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But Outside’s debt to Matthiessen transcended his appearances in its pages. When the magazine came into being in 1977, it’s no exaggeration to say that he, more than any other single voice, made it plausible to treat travel, rugged exploration, and heroic endurance as worthy of literary ambition. Matthiessen’s work fused travel, nature, and adventure writing in a new way, and so would Outside. He encountered wild corners of the world with sophistication and self-deprecating honesty, rather than with the hoary, hairy-chested posturing of the danger-mad adventure genre—and so would Outside. His books and articles (mostly for The New Yorker) projected their author as a post-Hemingway beau ideal, audacious but without macho bluster. He was a meticulous observer of ecological phenomena and advocate for indigenous cultures and the integrity of untrammeled places. Matthiessen looked the part, too, with his long, weathered terrapin face, raptor’s eyes, and tall, shambling frame.

As a model who inspired admiration and emulation, Matthiessen brought a range of contradictory attributes and swashbuckling credentials to his roles as naturalist and existential travel writer. A son of WASP wealth and privilege, a Yalie who co-founded The Paris Review in the early 1950s (while secretly working for the CIA), he was also a rebel who, early on, was obsessed with snakes and birds and who ran away to join the Coast Guard at 17. He toiled (unsuccessfully) as a commercial fisherman in order to write his first novels, and became a vehement environmentalist, man of the left, and Zen Buddhist adherent. He was the master of the far-flung epic journey (as in his elegiac 1959 narrative survey Wildlife in America), of the remote immersive expedition (to the Amazon and Andes for The Cloud Forest in 1961, and to tribal New Guinea for Under the Mountain Wall in 1962), of the meditative long-walk safari (in a number of books about Africa, including 1972’s The Tree Where Man Was Born and 1991’s African Silences).

Two of Matthiessen’s greatest books appeared just as Outside was born and began to take shape. His 1975 novel Far Tortuga was based on years of venturing under sail across the southwest Caribbean with the last of the old Cayman Island turtle hunters. And The Snow Leopard (1978), his non-fiction masterpiece, chronicled a 1973 Himalayan expedition with the conservation biologist George Schaller that was physically overwhelming, emotionally lacerating (Matthiessen’s young wife had recently died of cancer), spiritually inspiring, and even absurdist—Matthiessen sees snow leopard footprints but never glimpses the rare and beautiful beast itself. When The Snow Leopard became a best-seller and won the National Book Award, it was a favorable omen for the kind of unprecedented magazine Outside hoped to be and the subjects it planned to explore.

I got to know Peter Matthiessen in the mid-1990s, when I was astonished to find myself appointed his editor at The New Yorker. I was terrified by the prospect of working with him, and he lived up to my expectations by being one of the crankiest, most impatient, and generally forbidding writers I’d ever edited. Matthiessen had been contributing to The New Yorker for decades, under rubrics such as "The Last Wilderness" and "Annals of Conservation," and his disapprobation toward editorial intervention was reinforced by the lapidary near-perfection of his prose, the result of discipline and relentless self-revision.

Our first, and only, collaboration at The New Yorker was on a 1995 report he had written about Inuit and Inuhuit whalers in Greenland. Not long afterward, when I left New York to live for a year in the Rogue River wilderness of Oregon, it was a backcountry detour that I could blame, in part, on the spell cast by that fleeting proximity to Peter Matthiessen. But when I joined the staff of Outside as its features editor, in late 1996, I assumed that he would view my employment there as an act of disloyalty.

At the time, Matthiessen was furious with Outside and with Mark Bryant, who edited the magazine from 1991 to 1999, for publishing an 11,682-word feature story in July 1995 by a young war correspondent and investigative journalist named Scott Anderson. “The Martyrdom of Leonard Peltier” reexamined the aftermath of the 1975 killings of two FBI agents during a stand-off on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Peltier, a Chipewa-Lakota Sioux activist in AIM (the American Indian Movement), was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison.

In 1983, Matthiessen published his furious, explicitly one-sided investigation of the killings and the prosecution of Leonard Peltier, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, charging that Peltier was innocent and the victim of a shoddy, vindictive criminal investigation. His book gave impetus to a documentary film, a Hollywood drama based loosely on the Peltier case, the involvement of 60 Minutes and Oliver Stone, and an international human-rights campaign to free Peltier.

Like other incidents involving a brew of violence and assassination and 60s-era radical groups, the FBI-AIM confrontation was a murky, complex, ideologically riven event. It spawned fervid conspiracy theories and competing visions of a racist miscarriage of justice versus a scenario of cold-blooded political homicide and righteous punishment.

A dozen years after In the Spirit of Crazy Horse was first published, Scott Anderson interviewed Peltier and other key players for his Outside article, and he argued that Matthiessen’s narrative had omitted or distorted evidence pointing to Peltier’s culpability, and that the movement to obtain a new trial or a pardon for Peltier was possibly a whitewash that was doing the convicted murderer more harm than good.

Matthiessen had devoted years to researching and writing In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, successfully fighting a landmark libel lawsuit against the book, and trying to free Peltier. Rather than offering a brief response in Outside’s Letters column, Matthiessen insisted that the magazine publish “Mean Spirit,” his contemptuous rebuttal. At 5,400 words, it was nearly half as long as Scott Anderson’s original piece. It appeared in the October 1995 issue. Anderson in turn replied a few months later.

Apart from its impact on the long-running debate over Peltier’s legal fate, the editorial battle between Outside and Matthiessen was one of the most painful episodes in the magazine’s history. To admirers of Anderson’s reporting, it was an instance of Outside’s fearlessness in letting a reporter follow the facts where they led. To others, it was a political and personal betrayal of one of its own.

That Leonard Peltier remains in prison to this day must be counted as one of the great defeats of Matthiessen’s life, and he blamed the Outside article for providing crucial support for the legitimacy of Peltier’s guilty verdict. Peltier’s next parole hearing is not scheduled until 2024, and he is currently eligible to be released in 2040, when he would be 96 years old.

It seems plausible to infer that Matthiessen’s bitter experience with the Peltier case provided part of the driving force behind his 20-year obsession with turning the story of the murder of outlaw and plantation owner Edgar Watson in Florida in 1910 into a brooding fictional epic. Having written 1,400 pages in a trilogy of novels—Killing Mr. Watson, Lost Man’s River, and Bone by Bone—in his attempt to tell the tale, Matthiessen enjoyed a crowning literary vindication when his revised and shortened one-volume version of the Watson legend, Shadow Country, won the National Book Award in 2008.

When I arrived at Outside I sent Matthiessen a note with my news, adding that his estrangement from the magazine distressed and saddened me. He responded cordially but made it clear that Outside was, so to speak, dead to him.

After I became Outside’s editor in 1999, I began a low-key campaign to lure Matthiessen back into its pages, and finally succeeded in 2001, when the magazine excerpted the stirring, outraged essay he had written for Subhankar Banerjee’s landmark book of photographs, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land. And in 2002, he contributed a story about the fate of tigers in India to Outside’s 25th anniversary issue. I experienced for the last time his short-fused, curmudgeonly attitude toward the impostures of magazine editors, along with the pleasure of observing his impeccable writerly skill in action.

Like many writer-editor relationships, ours was conducted exclusively by phone and correspondence. I saw Peter in person only once, in 2004, when he came to Santa Fe for a Lannan Foundation talk in defense of ANWR with Banerjee. One of my abiding regrets is that I never took up Doug Peacock’s invitations to come up to Montana to go fishing with him and Matthiessen.

Despite his dark and dour and sometimes melodramatic tendencies, the quality that rings the clearest for me about Peter Matthiessen is his endless joy in experiencing the depths of the natural world and its creatures, including we hapless, fumbling humans. He was far more convivial than the image of the glowering Zen master might suggest, as one can glean in the lovely reminiscence his friend and neighbor James Salter wrote for The New Yorker shortly after Matthiessen’s death. Although he often expressed contempt for unnecessary risk, near the end of his life Matthiessen told a radio interviewer about deciding to run a fearsome Class V rapid with his fishing guide in a canvas riverboat on Montana’s Madison River, rather than portaging around.

“I just had this impulse,” he recalled. “I said, ‘You know, I am 82. My best work is behind me. I want to go down with you.’ … It was whitewater and tumbling boulders and waterfalls, everything from side to side and there wasn't any open water there.... When we got to the bottom of this thing, at the end of the run, we were just like two little boys. We were just grinning from ear to ear. I was just so happy. I never thought I would have an adventure again like that. I have had a lot of them in my life, but I didn’t expect one at my age. So that was my last thrill.”

Hal Espen was the editor of Outside from 1999 to 2006.

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8 Last-Minute Mother's Day Gifts

Raising children is a lifelong job that opens new frontiers of anxiety. Suddenly you have to worry about smoke-detector batteries, food safety, and running with scissors, all while guiding and nurturing kids so they grow strong and achieve their dreams.

And when those dreams include climbing Mount Everest, rafting the Grand Cayon, or BASE jumping El Capitan? This Sunday, show Mom how much you appreciate her cheering you across marathon finish lines, encouraging you to reach summits, or keeping you calm through emergency-room visits. But most important, thank her for giving you the drive, courage, and adventurous spirit that got you there.

These gifts will help her relax, recharge, and get ready for whatever’s next, whether it’s your bucket-list trek—or hers.

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How Satellite Trackers Save Lives

In early May, Kevin Boniface was riding his new motorcycle in the Colorado Front Range, along an open off-road area not far from the site of infamous Haymen Fire. The ride was going great—until a friend, Tom, who was also riding that day, leaned too sharply, caught his handlebar, and went down.

When Boniface reached Tom, his friend was drooling and concussed, and possibly had broken ribs. “We had the same conversation over and over,” Boniface recalls. “‘How did I get here?’ What happened?’” They were 40 minutes from the nearest paved road, and had no cell-phone service. The injuries appeared quite serious.

Three years earlier, Boniface had invested in a SPOT tracker to have on hand during emergencies. Boniface had only ever used the locator’s “I’m okay” feature before the accident, a preset sending his wife his location at the click of a button. As Tom writhed in pain, Boniface decided now was the time to test his SPOT’s SOS beacon.

“(My SPOT tracker) was really helpful because I probably could have ridden to go get help, but it saved a lot of time,” Boniface says. About 35 minutes later, a sheriff was on site and Tom was in an ambulance.

Boniface didn't realize at the time that he would be part of a company milestone: the rescue was the 3,000th that utilized SPOT's GPS technology. 

Globalstar, the sat phone company which owns Spot, launched their tracker in 2007, and usage of the devices has been climbing ever since. SPOT products can be programmed to send GPS coordinates via stationary low-earth satellites to emergency responders— at $170 for a tracker and $499 for a phone. Most satellite phones run between $1000 and $2000, not counting service fees.


Search and rescue teams traditionally depend on mobile networks, sometimes radio networks, to locate lost adventurers. But according to Globalstar CEO Jay Monroe, 75 percent of the planet's land surface is out of network; you’d be hard-pressed to find a cluster of cellphone towers in Aniakchak National Monument, for instance. Satellite phones and trackers transcend this problem. SPOT's trackers, called SPOT Gen3, and SPOT Global Phones can access low-earth satellites from anywhere in the world.

“Wherever it is in whichever country, the capability of the unit is such that it really takes the search out of search and rescue,” says Monroe. “You know exactly where the person is and all you have to do is go get ‘em.”

When someone presses an SOS beacon, a signal with his or her coordinates goes out to an international dispatch center manned by emergency response company GEOS. GEOS alerts the relevant protective body—here, the sheriff—but also the emergency contact of whoever owns the SPOT, to double-check the owner’s last known coordinates.

“The truth is, about one time a day, we get an emergency rescue and often times it’s life or death,” says Monroe. “If it wasn’t out there—there would be some number of people in my backyard of Colorado who wouldn’t be at this year’s Fourth of July barbeque.”

In Boniface’s case, a county dispatch reporting error sent his wife in a panic to the hospital.

“After the sheriff showed up, I figured I should probably make sure she knew I was okay, so I pressed the okay button,” Boniface says. “She and Tom’s wife saw each other in the emergency room and started putting stuff together.”

Tom, had sustained four fractures to his collarbone, and broke seven ribs, but was expected to make a full recovery.

“He’s definitely gonna buy a SPOT,” Boniface says.

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What Should I Get My Outdoorsy Mom for Mother’s Day?

Would your mother or wife prefer to be climbing, boating, or running rather than brunching this Sunday? If the answer is yes, read on. Skip the flowers and honor what she loves to do by following these gear suggestions from six dedicated moms who also happen to be elite athletes.

Emily Jackson: Professional Freestyle Kayaker


Jackson, one of the best freestyle kayakers in the world, will be competing at the Reno River Festival this Mother's Day weekend while her mom and 9-month-old son, Tucker, watch from a few feet away. "The biggest part of Mother's Day is actually being around your kids or your mom," Jackson says. "Time together is the best gift of all."

But adding some gear to your Mother’s Day date never hurts. Jackson suggests checking out Kokotat's new pink colored dry tops and drysuits. "When I’m out boating, I’m very excited to be wearing my violet gear," Jackson says. "That would make any kayaking chick happy."

Dara Torres: 12-Time Olympic Medalist


Professional swimmer Dara Torres and mother of three plans to spend Mother's Day in North Palm Beach, Florida with her mother. Torres suggested Koss FitClip earphones, athletic women-specific headphones the 12-time Olympic medalist helped design. "I did a bunch of work for Koss headphones and we created a headphone that is just for women," Torres says. "The ear bud is 33 percent smaller than a regular earbud."

She prefers the FitClip Series because those buds were built for movement, plus they come in some cool colors. "You can bounce around, jump, do whatever you want, and you don't have to keep pushing them in," Torres says.  

Nancy Bouchard: Former Professional Climber


Nancy Bouchard was a pioneer female gear tester in the nineties and continues to test and write about gear today. The former pro climber went on to be an editor at Rock and Ice, where she started the magazine’s gear-testing program.

She’ll celebrate Mother's Day by doing an outdoor-sport triathlon with her husband and three daughters in her hometown of Bend, Oregon. "We’ll ski and climb and add a third component," Bouchard says. "It would be sweet to go stand-up paddleboarding."

Bouchard’s gift recommendation? A pair of mirrored-lens sunglasses, in honor of the years spent watching her daughters ski race. A good pair of shades makes staring at a snowy slope all day much more bearable. "I like Wiley X P-17 with pol emerald green lenses—they’re indestructible, look seriously cool, and knock at least a decade off my age," Bouchard says.  

Zoe Hart: Professional Mountain Guide


Certified International Mountain Guide and Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Zoe Hart lives in Chamonix, France with her husband Max and her sons—2-year-old Mathias and 5-month-old Mika. Hart will spend Mother's Day in Arco, Italy with her family and a few other friends who also climb and have kids.

"Arco is the ultimate multi-sport venue," Hart says. She get's a ton of great gear from her sponsors, so she only wants gear she can't get from them. "I'd probably love a swanky new Suunto altimeter watch or a nice pair of Oakley sunglasses," Hart wrote in an email.

If you’re reading this, Max, we suggest the Suunto Vector XBlack for its reliable track record or Oakley's new handmade Frogskin LX sunglasses.  

Beth Rodden: Professional Rock Climber


Beth Rodden, one of the most celebrated crack climbers in the world, will only have been a mother for ten days this Mother's Day. Needless to say, she hasn't put much thought into what gifts she wants or what she’s going to do. "We'll probably just hang out," Rodden says.

She did suggest the Osprey FlapJill pack for other moms because of the bag’s versatility. "I've been using it for a crag or bouldering pack and now I'm using it as a diaper pack," Rodden says. It’s easy to access the gear thanks to multiple zippered entry points—turns out this feature works equally well to reach shoes or a jacket as it does to grab diapers or wipes.

Sarah McMahon: Ultrarunner


North Lake Tahoe resident Sarah McMahon and her husband got second place together in last year's 120-mile Transrockies Run. And because Mother's Day falls just a week before she has a 50K race in Reno, McMahon aims to go for a long run this weekend as well as spend time with her husband and three boys.   

She suggests Salomon’s Speedcross 3 trail-running shoe. Not only is this her favorite shoe to run in, it’s also available in a variety of fun colors. McMahon also suggested signing your mother up for a race and paying the entry fee on Mother's Day. "If you're pre-registered, you have that goal," McMahon says. "And if someone else paid for it, you're not backing out."

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8 Questions with Author and Adventurer Sprague Theobald

When documentary filmmaker Sprague Theobald and his wife divorced in 1992, time and distance began to wear away at his relationship with his children.

"Regardless of how hard a family works during a divorce, there is almost always going to be that very large elephant in the middle of the room, sometimes for years," he says. "At one point or another it has to be acknowledged."

So in 2009, Theobald grabbed the elephant by the tusks and took his family—his son, stepson, stepdaughter, and her boyfriend—on an 8,500 adventure across the Northwest Passage. From their starting point in Newport, Rhode Island, through the passage and around Alaska to Seattle, their journey was almost always a contast battle with ice, polar bears, and extreme weather.

"Doing something new and adventurous builds a new history, one that is valid and present and can be referred back to time and again," says Theobald, who wrote about the trip in his book The Other Side of The Ice: One Family's Treacherous Journey Negotiating the Northwest Passage.

We caught up with Theobald via email to talk about the trip, his book, and if spending time outdoors can heal damaged relationships.

Did you know going into your voyage that the journey would result in a memoir and a documentary?
When the idea of the trip occurred to me, all I had in mind was the hope to carve a documentary out of it. At the time my focus was climate change. It was by divine intervention that my family joined and got involved. My stepdaughter, Dominique, and I had done several thousands of offshore miles together. My son, Sefton, hadn't done so many, but college was keeping him from being able to do the full Arctic trip. My stepson Chauncey and I hadn't spoken in over 12 years. About a month before we were to depart from Newport, I got an email from him asking if he could be a part of this adventure. After years of trying to initiate a dialog with him, I jumped at the chance. Dominique freed up her schedule and Sefton had a semester of college waived. The kids all knew that I was going to be doing the documentary about climate change but that was pretty much all they knew. Once the trip started and we were all under the same roof, all together for the first time in 15 years, I quickly saw that the real story was about family. There was no filming agenda to uncover feelings or discuss past history. If this new angle was going to work, it was going to have to be organic and on the kids' terms. The chances were very good that it may not have worked at all. Such is the gamble you make when producing documentaries!

As for the book, I had no plans to write a book–life was hard enough! About six months after the trip ended, an article was done about it and an agent in New York read it and tracked me down. Over many cups of coffee, he talked me into writing a book about the experience. It was the best coffee meeting I ever had!

You embarked on this journey 15 years after your divorce. What took you so long?
It took that long because as a filmmaker and sailor I was pretty busy chasing down jobs that would have immediate effect: pay. The Northwest Passage trip took seven very long years of planning and fundraising. Nordhaven Yachts quickly jumped aboard and said that they would meet every dollar of my budget. Sadly, three months before we left for the trip, Nordhaven had to pull every penny of their proposed funding. We had met a year earlier when they had told me they would cover the entire budget. I had also met with an ex-executive at a major sports channel who said, "You'll never have to spend another dime on the trip. We want it and you!" I never heard from him again. As it ended up, all the funding came out of my own pocket—something I will be dealing with for a very long time to come.

To answer the question about why it took so long to get the kids together: After the divorce, each child and I had spent time together, one-on-one, but as life goes, never all together at the same time. After a few years, due to justified hurt and sadly avoidable miscommunications, Chauncey and I spent absolutely no time together. The kids moved to the other side of the country with their mom and visiting became a bit more challenging. In any given situation or disagreement there are two very distinct and appropriate realities. As the kids spend more time with their mother, they very naturally and rightly experience life according to one reality. There were many past scenarios which may or may not have been accurate, that they learned as truth. There were many untold hurts and angers, which I wasn't able to address all at once. At the time of the divorce, they were very young and I didn't want to overwhelm the kids with "he saids" and "she saids." I just hoped that as they grew they would become more curious about me and my life decisions. 

What were the group dynamics starting out?
Starting out, the dynamic was great: excitement and anticipation of trying to accomplish something so few ever have kept us going. It's estimated that more men have walked on the moon than have successfully done the passage in one season.

And how were the dynamics by journey's end?
As with any trip, in an expedition of this nature there were casualties along the way. The one major casualty was that Dominique and Clinton decided not to continue their relationship while we were in Greeenland, but wanted to continue the trip. Shortly after that, the appropriateness of her decision became very apparent to me as I found that Clinton's offshore experience wasn't quite what I was led to believe. After several very unacceptable incidents aboard the ship, he very ungraciously parted ways with us in Nome. I was qualified to run the boat as I have about 40,000 offshore miles, but the whole point in hiring Clinton was to help run the ship so that I could concentrate on the film. From the start I found that our plan simply didn't work. It was prearranged that due to his work schedule Greg would have to leave early as well.

A lot of families go through difficult situations; why do you think spending time outdoors can help people move on?
I was hoping was that there wasn't a prescribed way of dealing with it. Just as I didn't want to ignore it for the rest of my kids' lives, I also didn't want to ask everyone to "gather 'round" because I needed to get some facts straight. When you have a third focus, such as we did–a very powerful, brutal, and life-threatening focus, you learn a heal of a lot more about what a person is made of and what makes them tick. It was my hope that my kids saw, under extreme pressure from before the start of the trip, who I was and what I would accept in my life. On the trip it was the kids and me, not the kids trying to watch their mother and me work through insurmountable issues. 

Why did you choose such a difficult and dangerous voyage? 
It may sound trite but the trip chose me. Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with The Passage, by how it could exist but not exist. How Franklin could take two 100-foot ships and 120 men into it and simply vanish? How almost 30 other expeditions could go to find him with many not returning. To this day we have no conclusive idea of what happened to Franklin and his men. One night in 2006, I was at dinner with some New Yorkers; one of them asked: "What would be the ultimate adventure for you?" Before my brain could control my mouth I answered, "To try to find and transit the Northwest Passage." The next day I started making phone calls. And for the most part, it all kind of fell into place from there."

What was the scariest moment?
Several times I was scared right down to my socks. More times than not I thought that it was all over, that we were going to end up as names in the maritime history books. Perhaps the most terrifying was when we were trapped in Peel Sound by ice sheets up to ten feet thick, which were pushing us toward a rock-bound shore. Through the binoculars I could see the ice sheets exploding and shattering due to the extreme pressures of the hidden currents. Some quick calculations showed us that we were about three hours away from the same fate: being crushed and driven under the ice. I went to my bunk to try and come to grips with it all and that's when I saw the headline in my mind: "Father Unites Family Only To Lead Them To Their Deaths." The headline was as real as it gets, not a projection of fear but an actuality. Unless there was some divine intervention, it was going to be over for all of us. We had Arctic camping gear and the like, but regardless of what you may read, the area is rife with polar bears, the only mammal besides humans that kills simply to kill, not always because they're hungry or threatened.

How has your relationship with your family been since you completed the trip?
We landed in Seattle in November 2009. A day doesn't go by that I'm not rocked by a memory from the trip. I've asked my kids how they feel about it now that time has passed and they are also still very moved by it. The relationship I have with my kids is indescribable. The love, trust, and understanding that we all found during those historic five months and 8,500 miles (our boat Bagan, was the first production powerboat to transit The Passage) has given us an amazing base from which to look both forward and backward. This is not to say that we talk every day on the phone now, or have great emotional moments every time we do talk, but it's there–there's a strong connection in our hearts. In fact, our relationship is so "normal" now, that I was just saying to a friend the other day: "Why is it that the only time I hear from my kids is when they need to borrow money or something?" It couldn't be more wonderful!

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