Great Openings

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Outside magazine, May 1996

Great Openings

“As a former academic and a natural history book reviewer I was astonished to discover, on being threatened with a two-month exile to the primary jungles of Borneo, just how fast a man can read. Powerful as your scholarly instincts may be, there is no matching the strength of that irrational desire to find a means of keeping your head upon your shoulders; of retaining your
frontal appendage in its accustomed place; of barring 1,700 different species of parasitic worm from your bloodstream and Wagler’s pit viper from just about anywhere; of removing small, black, wild-boar ticks from your crutch with minimum discomfort (you do it with Sellotape); of declining to wear a globulating necklace of leeches all day long; of sidestepping amoebic and
bacillary dysentery, yellow and backwater and dengue fevers, malaria, cholera, typhoid, rabies, hepatitis, tuberculosis and the crocodile (thumbs in its eyes, if you have time, they say).”
–Redmond O’Hanlon, Into the Heart of Borneo, 1984

“The stench of wet dogs, kerosene, cigarette smoke, molding cheese, and sweat-stained clothing saturated the air of the Soviet ‘flying coffin’ as we closed in on Antarctica….My partner in this expedition-to-be…insisted the smell that permeated the tense cabin and increased the tension was one he recognized. it was, he said, the smell of adventure.”
–Will Steger with Jon Bowermaster, Crossing Antarctica, 1991

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class
fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
–Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It, 1976

“Days and months are travelers of eternity. So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives traveling.”
–Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, 1689

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