Parahawking Video

Parahawking is an activity that combines paragliding with falconry. Birds of prey are trained to fly with paragliders, guiding them to thermals for in-flight rewards.

I want to fly with the hawks!

via Doc Moss

Free Solo Climbing in Yosemite – No Ropes

Yosemite Climbing

Photograph by Mikey Schaefer for National Geographic magazine

On a bright Saturday morning in September a young man is clinging to the face of Half Dome, a sheer 2,130-foot wall of granite in the heart of Yosemite Valley. He's alone, so high off the ground that perhaps only the eagles take notice. Hanging on by his fingertips to an edge of rock as thin as a dime, shoes smeared on mere ripples in the rock, Eminem blasting on his iPod, Alex Honnold is attempting something no one has ever tried before: to climb the Regular Northwest Face route on Half Dome without a rope. He's less than a hundred feet from the summit when something potentially disastrous occurs—he loses the smallest measure of confidence.

Continue reading at  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/05/yosemite-climbing/jenkins-text

By Mark Jenkins

Adrenaline Rush Kayaking

Palouse Falls

 

First descent by Tyler Bradt

The Fall Guy: A record-setting, 186-foot descent

Text by Ryan Bradley at National Geographic

There isn’t a lot that scares Tyler Bradt, so before he steered his kayak off the lip of eastern Washington’s Palouse Falls and dropped 18 stories amid water rushing at 2,000 cubic feet per second, he recalls his mind running gin clear, just like the current. “There was a stillness,” says the 22-year-old extreme kayaker. “Then an acceleration, speed, and impact unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I wasn’t sure if I was hurt or not. My body was just in shock.”

So was everyone else. The previously held record for kayak descents, set only weeks earlier, had been off a 127-foot fall in the Amazon. “The risks on a 180-foot drop are exponentially greater,” says kayaker and filmmaker Trip Jennings. “Your rate of descent is multiplied, so the time you have to react plummets.”

Before the record-setting run, Bradt repeatedly visited Palouse Falls State Park to read the water and scout the descent. “The first time I saw the Palouse, I knew it was runnable,” he says. “There’s a smooth green tongue of water that carries about a third of the way down the falls. That was my route.”

This spring Bradt prepared by effortlessly knocking off a string of 70- to 80-foot waterfalls on Oregon’s Hood River. But that didn’t allay the concerns of his fellow paddlers. “Honestly, I told him I didn’t know if it was the best idea,” says Rush Sturges, who followed Bradt down a 107-foot waterfall in Canada two years ago. For the Palouse run, Sturges and eight others were at the ready should anything (concussion, broken back) befall their friend. “But,” Sturges admits, “if something really bad had happened, like getting pinned behind that curtain of water, he would have been on his own.”

On April 21 Bradt emptied his mind and paddled slowly into the river. He made tiny adjustments during the 3.7-second free fall. “The key to controlling the descent was to stay with the curtain and not get launched into the air,” he says. At impact, Bradt tucked his nose to the kayak, kept his body tense, and directed his boat into the heart of the torrent, where the aerated water cushioned his landing. After six seconds beneath the surface, the kayaker re-emerged with a broken paddle, a sprained wrist, and a record that, considering the risks, is perhaps best left unchallenged. “The motivating factor for all this,” Bradt says, “was just that I thought it was possible. I wanted to do it, I guess, because I can.” http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/kayak-waterfall-record

via Roy Stone

Leopard Seal Adopts Photogapher

Link: Watch: Leopard seal teaches photogapher how to hunt | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Photo: Brian Lam/National Geographic
Brian Lam calls the time he spent being taught hunting by a leopard seal in the chilly waters of Antarctica "the most incredible experience I've ever had as a National Geographic photographer". While photographing the giant sea predator, he was adopted by a large female leopard sea who spent four days trying to teach him to hunt penguins. At first the seal would bring him live healthy penguins. After Mr. Lam failled to catch them, she brought weakened penguins, then dead penguins before finally ripping apart a penguin in a last ditch effort to show the photographer how to eat.
 
Watch this, it's pretty amazing:
 
 
It's fasinating behavior, you might think that the last thing a predator wants to have around is competition, but maybe sometimes the desire to have a buddy to play around with overrules that. Having easy to catch penguins around probably makes it easier to invite a new mouth into the local scene.
 
via Chris Anderson

Road Trip to Virginia

Ann and I left Woodstock, GA, at noon on Saturday. The temperature was 95 degrees.

We turned north onto I-77 from I-85 at Charlotte. The temperature was 99 degrees.

We stopped in Cana, VA, at the Willow Glen Farm B&B. The house was amazing, the food excellent, and Bob and Carol were gracious and interesting hosts.

After the great breakfast on Sunday, we drove north on Highway 52 to Fancy Gap and turned right onto the magical Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mabry Mill by www.flickr.com/photos/hitmanjf/

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderful place to drive after spending hours dodging collisions on the interstate highways.

We passed beautiful Mabry Mill, where hometown friend Clift Mitchell fell in the pond about 50 years ago.

We drove east through Floyd County to Cannaday Gap, where we dropped down into Franklin County to Endicott.

We drove east to Ferrum. At Ferrum College, we turned north onto Ferrum Mountain Rd towards Callaway. We continued north to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We turned northeast on the Parkway. Several miles later we turned left onto a barely visible double track. When we stopped to open the gate to drive into a pasture, the temperature was 74 degrees with very gusty winds. We drove through the pasture to Jack and Marie's home.

We had a tasty and healthy lunch with Jack, Marie, Jackson, and Katie. It was great to see them and I wish we had had more time to visit.

We returned to Franklin County and looked at some property with Clift, Linda, and John G.

At 3pm, we left for Atlanta. We stopped at the Floyd Country Store in Floyd. I got a blackberry milkshake and we chatted with Woody and Jackie for a moment.

We headed west on Highway 221. At Hillsville, we took I-77 south. We encountered a traffic stoppage at Statesville. We detoured onto I-40 West and took Highway 321 South to I-85, after losing an hour to the traffic jam.

We arrived home at 11pm. The temperature was 88 degrees. Hot 'Lanta indeed.

National Geographic Magazine Photographer: Show and Tell

National Geographic contributing photographer Joel Sartore talks about being on assignment for the world's greatest magazine.

Link: Joel Sartore

 A strong conservation message along with how we can all help to save the planet. Video footage provided courtesy of Conservation International

Wilderness and Wildness

Bronwen Dickey, daughter of James Dickey (author of Deliverance), describes her father's view of wilderness and rivers.

I've shed blood in the Chattooga River, the result of incompetent kayaking. Wildness doesn't tolerate fools.

Link: Chattooga Conservancy, The Last Wild River.

My father didn't talk much about wilderness, it was "wildness" he was interested in. Wilderness, to him, was just an idea, a romantic falsification of nature rather than the untamed, untamable thing itself. Wildness was a place where man risked everything; it wasn't a theme park or a toy you played around with or a place you ventured into for thrills. It could kill you. The characters in Deliverance were prepared only for wilderness, and they found wildness. Wildness bites back.

"I think a river is the most beautiful thing in nature," my father wrote in one of his journals, right before the novel was published in 1970. "Any river is more beautiful than anything else I know." He was drawn to writers who felt similarly inspired by water, like Melville and Conrad. Heraclitus's philosophy of universal flux and his famous dictum, "you cannot step into the same river twice," particularly moved him. But there were few things that terrified my father as much as man's ever-growing intrusion into the natural world. "We're never going to be able to get out of the 'man world,'" he said in a documentary back in the '70s, "if we don't have any place to go to from the man world. That's why we need these rivers and streams and creeks and woods and mountains. You need to be in contact with nature as it was made by something else than men." As much as Deliverance was a story of survival, or, as so many define it, a story of "man against nature," it was a story about the commercial destruction of a rugged, primordial landscape and a part of the South that was slipping away, even back then.

Note: Here's a link to some scenes from the movie Deliverance, if you haven't seen it.

Photos of the Chattooga River:

www.mykesweblog.com/2008/12/beautiful-image-the-narrows-chattoogariver.html

www.mykesweblog.com/2005/08/bull_sluice_on_.html