Jon learns he is a lousy traveler in the spirit world but a great one in this world. He discusses the native Siberian attitude toward the relationship between mind, body, nature, and the spirituality. And he describes how he has incorporated this worldview into his own life and a seminar he is conducting this summer on the subject.
Jon describes seeing blue whales mating from a kayak in Chile. A wolf welcomes you to the polar regions. A hawk or a deer in your back yard. Sometimes exploring deep wilderness comes down to individual moments of encounter.
As winter comes in, Jon defends the much-maligned cold. It’s important to human health, important to ecology. There is no bad weather, he insists, only insufficient clothing.
Jon and his son-in-law decide to traverse the endless Bitterroot ridge that separates Montana from Idaho. It’s like hiking the Appalachian Trail–only very high up and with no path and with one foot in one state and another in a different one.
Jon Turk tells two stories in which adventurers did not die because of some combination of luck and skill and analyzes which played what role. In one, he and his kayak get sucked into an underwater cave in British Columbia. In the other, an adventure partner gets stuck on the side of Mount Denali during dozens of avalanches.
Jon pays tribute to an expedition partner who died skiing in Kyrgyzstan and tells about the walkabout Jon took on the frozen Kamchatka tundra. On this solo trek, Jon angers the FSB, goes looking for the holy stone of the Koryak tribes, gets caught in a killer storm, and finally takes a reckless, irresponsible run on the perfect ski run created by the storm. A meditation on loss in the big, big empty.
After Misha’s death (see Episode #9), Jon returns to the Village of Vyvenka on the frozen tundra of the Kamchatka Peninsula, having decided to go on a solo walk-about in 20-below-zero temperatures. Don’t miss this moving story of his return in hard times to the village that once changed his life.
Jon and Misha head off to Kamchatka. Only one of them makes it back. Misha wasn’t killed on an expedition. He died, rather, in a hospital in the Russian Far East before the adventure even started. Jon talks about how he and Misha met, their long collaboration, Misha’s recent decline, and his tragic death on the eve of their return to the Siberian tundra.
While Jon is away in Kamchatka, we bring you this interview he did earlier this year with Jim Banks’s Hemispheres show on KGNU public radio in Boulder CO. Jon talks about his spiritual journeys to Kamchatka over the past fifteen years, his explorations there of native Koryak religiosity, and his relationship with the ancient shaman woman named Moulynaut.
Jon and his wife, Nina, hiking in the Bitterroot forest near their home in Montana, find some strange tracks in the snow: some human, and some canine. And they discover a person who seems to have teleported into the woods in the midst of a snowstorm. There’s also a mysterious wolf heading purposefully up the trail. Deep wilderness close to home.
Jon is off in Kamchatka on walkabout for the next few weeks. Follow his travels there on Twitter: @deepwilderness.