Mark Jenkins lives the kind of adventure-filled life many of us dream about. In 1989, he biked 7,000 miles across the Soviet Union, a journey he later wrote about in the book Off the Map. In 1992, he kayaked Africa's Niger River, alternately battling aggressive hippos, lurking crocodiles, intense boredom, and killer bees along this mammoth 3,000-mile waterway.
Has age mellowed his jones for adrenaline? Not really. In recent years, Jenkins, now in his early 40s, has traveled to even more of the world's most intriguing and extreme outdoor locations. His popular monthly column for Outside magazine elegantly chronicles the various shenanigans experienced while venturing through rivers, swamps, deserts, mountains, glaciers, and all points in between.
According to Jenkins, his craft demands both physical and mental intensity: "Real adventures require real commitment. I run stadium stairs every day. I read the history of the next country I am visiting. I climb or bike or hike or whatever intensely to prepare for my upcoming expedition. I think the intro to the new book gives a good idea of how I prepare for my writing; what it doesn't say is how much I train physically." Still, at the end of the day, finding the right words to effectively retell his experience is the most difficult part of what he does. "In truth, I am a writer. Adventuring is the easy part. Coming home and writing a story that moves people is my challenge."
Judge for yourself whether Jenkins passes this test. He will be reading from his new anthology, The Hard Way: Stories of Danger, Survival and the Soul of Adventure, at 7 p.m. Friday, July 26 at UW's Kane Hall. Tickets are free while supplies last; call 634-3400, ext. 256 for information.
This weekend brings the 56th Annual Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games & Clan Gathering to Enumclaw. Call 522-2541 for ticket and driving info. Of course, you don't need to attend this event to get the correct answer to the question "Is anything worn underneath a kilt?" Any proper Scotsman will tell you, "No, the equipment is all in fine working order, thank you." . . . Go Hawaiian at the Century 21 Outrigger Canoe Regatta on Saturday, July 27 at Chandler's Cove on Lake Union. Festivities start at 9 a.m. Proceeds benefit the Boyer Children's Clinic. Call 325-8477. . . . On the other hand, if you want to learn more about paddle-powered boating—and you can do without the ukulele music—the Lake Washington Rowing Club is hosting another "Try Rowing Bash" on July 27. The clinic begins at 10 a.m., and the entry fee is $25. Call 547-1583 for details. . . . Another book reading of note occurs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 30 at the University Bookstore when Daniel Lenihan will discuss Submerged: Adventures of America's Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team. . . . Or, if above-ground explorations interest you more than those underneath the sea, attend a slide show and climbing demonstration titled "Kilimanjaro and Tanzania" at the downtown Seattle REI. This presentation also occurs at 7 p.m. Tuesday.