I write about what can go wrong in the wilderness. If I could spend a peaceful week contemplating the restorative qualities of nature, I would probably write about that. But I can scarcely step foot into the wild without cliffs, storms or wild animals appearing to complicate my travels. You write what you know.
My passion is for mountaintops and unique geographic landscapes, like the white sands of New Mexico, the slot canyons of Utah, and the tousled contours of the Northern Rockies – the places that can be found nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately, while exploring these places, I tend to push the boundaries of how far I can go, how high I can climb, how much daylight I have left, and so forth. This unconscious habit makes for good stories, but it’s terrible for my health.
I think part of me likes to operate without complete control of my surroundings. It’s a nice change from our normal lives, which have been shorn of physical risk. And within this space of danger and uncertainty, something magical has a chance to arise. I can experience things no human has experienced before… gaze upon vistas that no human has ever seen, just because I’m on the side of a cliff when the sun goes down instead of back at the trailhead where I’m supposed to be.
In the era of smartphone maps and satellite imagery, it’s hard to find undiscovered territory. I call my series “Off The Map”, even though you can’t really go off maps in a literal sense anymore. Digital maps are infinite. But you can still find ways to step into the unknown, and that’s the space from which I write my stories.
When I return from the wilderness and share my tales of recklessness and wonder, I hope they will inspire others to take risks… not necessarily physical risks… but risks that lead them past the edge of their comfort zones, into the realms where magic and mystery still reside.