Bicycling Crusader Follows the Silk Road

She climbed to a peak of academia as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University and later as a scientist/graduate student at MIT. She dreamed of walking on Mars.

But for Kate Harris, work inside science laboratories could not satisfy her need to discover, so she and her best friend Mel set out to get lost in the world of exploration–for a year, bicycling the Silk Road of Marco Polo from Turkey to Tibet.

Thousands of miles, at altitudes higher than 17,000 feet, over every kind of terrain you can imagine, and through blazing heat and freezing snow. They eluded and tricked menacing military and police, adapted to cultures as different as they could be, and traversed geography as foreign to them as Mars. They found human compassion in many places, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Tibet, and Nepal as locals took them into their homes to save them from another night in their tent.

In Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road, Harris eloquently and humorously weaves history, science, and compelling anecdotes from her adventure that left my jaw hanging open.

As I have learned while walking the long-distance trails of Europe, the borders of cultures, countries and languages are lost when you step outside the comforts of everyday life and push yourself to, or even beyond, your limits. On the Silk Road, Kate Harris went well beyond the limits of most humans and her book made me want to load up my backpack and leave my borders behind.

(Click on the cover if you want to see the book on Amazon.)

A Pipe Dream Becomes This Walker’s Reality

Author/adventurer Ken Ilgunas writes about testing his limits and then living within his means in his compelling first book, Walden on Wheels, in which he documents a most unusual path through graduate school.

A little older (29), but equally determined to step outside the ordinary, Ilgunas takes on what he calls an “epic, never-done-before, and sort-of-illegal hike across the heartland.”

As I read Trespassing Across America, I was drawn into his world as he sets out to walk 1,700 miles on or near the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. He confronts harrowing storms, stampeding cattle, gun-toting ranchers, suspicious law enforcement officers, and a host of physical challenges.

In the end, he was left with (no spoilers here) experiences and impressions that touch him deeply. I was left encouraged about the potential of the human spirit.

(Click on the cover to see the book on Amazon.)

Finding Paths to Happiness

How do people who battle anxiety and/or depression find peace and happiness?

I have found answers to this question through reading the wisdom of some brilliant writers whose works I have featured here. (Click on “more books” in the menu to see them.)

But I have found some of my life’s most enjoyable times on the long-distant trails in Europe. My story about my first such journey became an adventure memoir, Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.

I am finding this happiness again in England on the South West Coast Path. Sue and I are about a third of the way through our 260-mile trek from Minehead to Land’s End. Here are a few scenes from England.