I always thought losing my sight would be one of life’s most cruel punishments. To wake up in darkness, to be a stranger to Earth’s beauty, to forever miss the smiles on your mother/child/friend/lover’s face. Without my glasses, life is a blur, and sometimes I fear the totality of permanent blindness. A few years ago, …

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Since I touched down on a runway in Anchorage in a blizzard, I’ve had the feeling of being magnetized to a place for reasons unknown. It was my first year out of college, when it seemed like I was stumbling along the path of least anxiety, hoping to get something right. Oddly, for me that …

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Distance runner, traveler, adventurer, and writer Jenny Tough lives up to her name. She’s trekked and paddled her way through six continents, including the unmapped terrain of the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Here’s her on goals, challenges, and what she brings on her runs.  You were the first person to run solo and unsupported …

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When I was a grad student, one of the most life changing pieces of advice I received was to book a vacation for after our thesis defense. If I passed, I could celebrate on vacation.  And if I didn’t, I still was going on a vacation. As a student in industrial design, essentially problem solving, …

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Unless you have a private boat or seaplane, the only way to get to Dry Tortugas National Park, the southernmost terminus of the United States, is on a ferry called the Yankee Freedom III that docks in Key West, Florida. The park encompasses seven islands 70 miles from both Key West and Cuba. The islands, …

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Minnesotans have some pretty distinct quirks, like watching hockey in June, torturing their vowels, and waxing poetic about going “Up North.” Up North, it seems, is more of a theory than an actuality. The most common version involves semi-rustic log cabins, copper-colored lakes and dark pine forests. But the widely agreed upon Holy Grail of …

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Six miles off the wild, southwest coast of Tasmania, in a remote region of world heritage wilderness, stands Australia’s most southerly lighthouse on a magnificent island called Maatsuyker. Maatsuyker Island is known for extreme weather and gale force winds over 100 days of the year. The island is a safe haven for dozens of protected …

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What comes to mind when you think of Washington, DC? What about its outdoor space? Many Washingtonians come for the politics, but the city offers so much more than lobbying and legislative affairs and more outdoor space than the National Mall. The city has changed dramatically over the years, and women’s experiences of the outdoors …

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This piece was first published by the National Park Foundation. Each year thousands of tourists descend upon DC to explore all that our capital has to offer. The numerous free museums that line the National Mall are a favorite for visitors and residents alike for good reason, but many never consider a visit to the small house …

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Trust Exercises

Sometimes you just gotta get out of town and hack your way up a frozen waterfall. The maple-colored mushroom of ice loomed above my head. Snow piled atop my helmet, pelted my face, and coated the thick Northern Minnesota forest. I had just hiked up a short 60-degree incline to reach the vertical wall of …

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A motorbike sped down the trail I had traversed the previous evening. It circled my tent and came to a stop. A man bent down, zipped open the tent and reached for my wallet and phone in the side mesh sleeve. Unsure of what to do, I grabbed his forearm and feverishly blew my whistle …

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I started mountain biking for one of the more common reasons that people start anything that’s new, unfamiliar, and kind of scary: to impress a boy. It was springtime, and I was 24 with a new boyfriend who talked about mountain biking the way that I talk about New Jersey pizza. That is to say, …

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