Richard Bangs--adventurer, river explorer, author, and producer--is a founding partner of SOBEK Expeditions, now Mountain Travel SOBEK, the adventure-travel firm. Bangs recounts a nearly 30-year obsession with rafting some of the swiftest, most dangerous waters on earth.
It's tempting to write off The Lost River as just another adventure story. It certainly has all the trappings of a formulaic action blockbuster--raging rapids, hungry crocodiles, mysterious natives, even the lost Ark of the Covenant. But as veteran river-runner Richard Bangs chronicles his lifelong pursuit of "aqua incognita," he proves a refreshingly introspective adventurer, a thinking man's Indiana Jones. Not content to justify his risky forays onto earth's wildest water with a glib "because it's there," he crafts an intimate journal of his astounding trips and scrutinizes the adventure travel industry he helped create.
In the early 1970s, adventurer-author Richard Bangs and his buddies set out to run the last unexplored rivers in Africa--the Baro, the Blue Nile, the Omo, the Awash--and finally realized their goal by rafting the Tekeze some 23 years later. His latest book, The Lost River, chronicles these extraordinary leaps into uncharted waters and explores the bonds forged--and the price paid--in the pursuit of extreme adventure.
Richard's book, The Lost River, won in the NOBA literature category. Winners are selected by a national panel of expert judges consisting of educators, outdoor columnists, book reviewers and trade representatives. NOBA is the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award program.
Since the early 1970s, Richard Bangs has been in the vanguard of river exploration. He is particularly known for his bold ventures deep into the recesses of Africa. In nearly a dozen books, Bangs has written of his experiences, but in The Lost Riverwe see and learn more of him than ever before. Primarily this book is about his 1996 pioneering run of Ethiopia's Tekeze River, but the most interesting and telling part of the story is the long, and sometimes tragic, path which led him there.
Macduff Everton, river guide, says "Our body is largely composed of water. Richard Bangs shows us our attraction to water can be delightful, glorious, and sometimes fatal. The Lost River reads like a good river trip - with rambunctious and ribald rapids and eddies of insight and human warmth. Paddle or die!
Bill Isherwood's objective this winter was the summit of Ama Dablam. He was to warm up with an acclimatization climb of Imja Tse (Island Peak). Bill got back from Nepal mid-December. He had a cold or flu much of the time and could not breathe well at high elevations. He came home a little early and no one in his group reached the summit. One of his climbing partners tried to summit alone, and fell in a crevasse soon after roping in. He was rescued by a passing climber, but hurt his arm and broke his thumb. Sometimes Murphy's Law rules.
There are two million acres of jungle, invaded by no mining, drilling, logging, or roads. There are perhaps four dirt airstrips. Plans for mining and development threaten this life. We lose one football field of rainforest every second. Burlington Resources of Texas wants to explore for oil. Another area that suffered this now is beset with alcoholism and prostitution. The Achuar are working with others to prevent this in their land.
Our speaker, Larry Lansburgh, is working with the Achuar on a documentary film. The Achuar have determined the content of the film, and filming will begin this month. A Quechua shaman says there is an ancient prophecy, that near the end of the century the Eagle (the rational people of the North) and the Condor (the intuitive people of the South) will come together. Neither will dominate, but they will combine forces and fly wingtip to wingtip. As an Australian aborigine said, "If you are coming to help me you are wasting your time, but if you are coming because your well being and my well being will benefit from working together, then you are welcome."
The Pachamama Alliance, based in San Francisco, can provide more information (http://www.pachamama). --Sue Estey
Año Nuevo is located just an hour or so south of San Francisco and has been a preferred haul out area for female elephant seals since the early 1960's. The general schedule of events has bull seals arriving from early December through January to establish turf rights. Pregnant females come ashore from late December to early February to give birth and then nurse their pups. The females will mate after the pup has finished nursing and most of the adults are back in the ocean by early March. After mom leaves, the weaner pups lay around in the sun, practice swimming and don't leave Año Nuevo until late March or April.
Throughout this whole process, the males fight for breeding rights. They fight for key beach positions where they expect the females to haul out. They fight while the females are giving birth. They fight during the month that the pups are nursing and gaining incredible amounts of weight each day. Then things get a bit more serious and the males fight to breed with the available females. And when nothing else is going on, the males fight anyway, just to keep in practice. A lot of the fighting is bravado. Males will bark loudly and often the loudest bark will win. If barking is not enough, the males may just display their proboscis. Only the males get the large noses and apparently a good glance at this magnificent appendage can be enough to let some males size each other up and establish a general pecking order. If vocal and visual displays are not enough, the males will strike each other. Even the juveniles fight, although they have little chance of establishing dominance over the larger, older males - it's practice for later years when they may be the big seal on the beach. --Lesley Ewing
From the Peninsula or Marin County, take Doyle Drive east to Marina Blvd. You cannot turn left into the road to the club, so take a tight turn just before Marina Blvd and come back under the freeway, or go a few blocks past and and come back along the marina green.
With a dress code of "white or black tie, native dress and decorations, the ECAD is a spectacle with ceremony, a ballroom full of tales of adventure and research, men and women daring in deed and costume, medals gleaming, ribbons decorating, and exotic snippets of who knows what to nibble before dinner. The speakers this year have walked on the moon, unwrapped Inca mummies from icy mountaintops, restored wolves to Yellowstone, to cite a few. The ECAD is a must-do at least once a millennium, and it's a great excuse to spend a few days in New York.
If you want west coast companions, be sure to specify "Northern California Chapter" as your seating request on the reservation form. Reservations may also be made by telephone: 212-628-8383.
1679 Tacoma Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707
email to Lesley
Map showing St. Francis Yacht Club
Date created: 12/06/1999
Last modified: 01/20/2002
Content from Sue Estey, Secretary, Northern California Chapter of The Explorers Club; email to Sue
Web page by: Mike Diggles, Webmaster. email to Mike