Essays

#BlackLivesMatter, Adventure Activism, Black Lives Matter, Climbing, Destinations, Diversity, Essays, Everest, Expedition News, Full Circle Everest, Outdoors For All / 11.04.2022

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” ~ Mark TwainThe walk from Phadking to Namche is a six-mile climb up a narrow trail of steep stone steps along a dusty path. Much of my training at 920 feet of above sea level in Wisconsin over the past year had done little to prepare...

Diversity, Essays, Guest Contributor, National Forests, Outdoors For All, Private Land, Public Land, ReThinkOutside / 09.10.2020

I am African-American.  Feels important that I say that up front.  Born in New York city and raised by black parents on land belonging to a wealthy, Jewish family, I was “homeschooled” emotionally and spiritually on a diet of black power, black striving and black possibility.  I often joke with people that I lived with Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali whose presence my father invoked on a regular basis.  My parents, Henry and Rose, grew up in Floyd, Virginia – poor and black with a high school education. ...

An American Ascent, Commentary, Diversity, Essays, Grand Canyon, Magazines, National Geographic, National Parks, Public Land, The Adventure Gap, Yosemite / 14.07.2020

  HALFWAY INTO OUR two-week paddling trip through the Grand Canyon, my longtime friend Jim Moss had a sudden realization. After a thrilling day exploring limpid blue pools and towering waterfalls beneath the desert rim, we sat in beach chairs drinking ice-cold beer along the banks of the Colorado River.“You know? I’ve made more than 40 commercial guiding trips through this place,” he said. “In 25 years, I think you’re the first African American I’ve ever seen down here.”There’s a statistical reason for this: Although Black Americans represent 13.4...

Commentary, Essays, In Memoria, Outdoors For All / 25.05.2020

In late afternoon on July 18, 1863, Sergeant Major William Harvey Carney stood on a beach in South Carolina. Shoulder to shoulder with more than 600 men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, this formation of troops on Morris Island near the port city of Charleston, would later be described as “like giant statues of marble”. With sand sifting through their feet Carney and his men marched forward at the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. Under a barrage of heavy rifle and cannon fire they quickened their...

Commentary, Covid-19, Diversity, Environmental Justice, Essays, Outdoors For All, Private Land, Public Land, Wisconsin / 18.05.2020

Over the weekend I packed up the Jetta Wagon for a short Joy Trip. After almost two months of working from home during the Covid-19 lockdown I was eager for a long car ride to go someplace pretty. A good friend had recently purchased a piece of property on a lake with a series of hiking trails about an hour east of Madison. Loaded with my boots, hip wadders, a backpack and a fly rod I set out on the open road under a clear blue sky through...

Commentary, Diversity, Environmental Justice, Essays, Nelson Institute, Outdoors For All, ReThinkOutside, The Adventure Gap / 24.04.2020

Through the  hive-mind of social media I was reminded this morning on LinkedIn that yesterday was my third work anniversary at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Nelson Institute For Environmental Studies. It just so happened at that moment I was deep in thought on a series of 12 sessions I am preparing for my summer class called Outdoors For All. Over the course of four weeks my students and I take a long look back in time at the racial disparities that separate those who spend time in...