To the top of the Tusk

(Photos on Flickr)

The man in black fled across the desert, and the backpacker followed.

His silhouette roosted on the ridge that separated the climb on the west side from the broken land below the South Rim. It is a dry, disturbed land, periodically remodeled by a god that couldn't leave well enough alone, and then finally neglected. The silhouette shouldered its pack, and disappeared over the ridge.

Dodson Trail

New Years on the top of the bottom of the sea

(Photos on Flickr)

I sped into the parking lot, stopped the engine, and packed a backpack with jittery speed. 1:30pm. The show would commence sometime around 5pm.

Sleeping bag? Yes. Tent? No. Water? Yes. Dinner? No. The primary consideration was time. If an item would make climbing the hill slower, it was abandoned. A tent could be replaced with a tarp. Tonight's dinner could be replaced by tomorrow's lunch.

There was no time to pay the entrance fee or to acquire the backcountry permit. Mañana. The rangers at Guadalupe Mountains National Park would have to wait. The sun is a punctual traveler. I am not. I woke that morning in Portales to find my breath turned to frost on the inside of the tent. Hmm. So I stayed in the relative warmth of my bag until the sun rose and inspired the image of warmth, if not the actual temperature, outside. Then I left—late.

Guadalupe Peak

Just one more ghost in Panamint City

The sun had set when I saw someone walking up the canyon along the remains of the old road to Panamint. It wasn't dark enough for artificial light, but it was getting close. I was on the front porch, cooking dinner. I was not expecting visitors—not up there, no, not in that corner of the world.

(Charlie Manson's last hideout, where he was captured in 1969, is in the mountains just a few miles south of Panamint. Helter Skelter, indeed.)

2011 Ozark Trail 100: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Ozarks

We were somewhere around Machell Hollow on the edge of the forest when the pain began to take hold.

Sponsor me for 826 Boston Write-A-Thon fundraiser

(Shortcut to just sponsoring.)

Hello, friends. In my spare time, I volunteer as a tutor at 826 Boston. They're a wonderful group. Primarily they support students in learning to write--an important adjunct to both reading and understanding--but as the resident engineer (nominally) I also help tutor in physics. And Spanish.

Crazy People at the Naked Cabaret

Last Saturday, I took the train down to Boston to catch the Naked Cabaret.

Yes, now I've got your attention...

Some people just never question it

Well, not totally naked, but... Harvard Book Store hosted Chris McDougall, author of one of my favorite books, Born to Run, and a cast of crazy people [1] at the Boston Public Library to talk about barefoot running. These people are nuts--and good thing, too. Normal people aren't interesting to talk about.

A week early, and a few rupees short

A few astute observers noted: hey, wasn't I supposed to return next week? Indeed. The plan was changed a little, and I'm already home. Let me tell you a story.

2011 Jaipur Half Marathon: The gauntlet

The Jaipur Half Marathon... I shouldn't have run it. But here I am, three weeks later, and the bastard hasn't killed me yet so I'm going to post this before the Auroville Marathon finishes me off.

Hop on: a desert cycling tale

One of the going away activities from my 2005 X PRIZE internship in the Mojave Desert, California, was a chance to eat lunch with Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill, and a few of the other rocket men of the Scaled Composities SpaceShipOne team. Midway through lunch, a gray-bearded man came in. He had been cycling across the desert, at midday in May, and wanted to show Burt his invention, a remarkable thermal material that could help the boys in Kuwait. ("Or Iraq," Burt corrected.) It was aluminum foil. He also had an older invention: Braille candy. ("You can taste the colors.")

2011 Jaipur Lit Fest Days 4 and 5: Myths of Mumbai, coincidences on the Nile, and cabbage

The 2011 Jaipur Literature Festival is over. Walking past the jampacked final panel--the standing easily outnumbering the seated 3-to-1--with Vikram Seth, under the colored banners, and through the gate of Diggi Palace a final time, I was a little melancholic. What next?

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