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Walk Across a Country

Why did you hike across Iceland?
I felt like a long walk. Plus, it's incredible to see the earth steaming in the lava fields at Namaskard and Krafla. It's like a thousand kettles that have been put on to boil.

What inspired you to take the first step?
For some of us, that compunction to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or travel with other pilgrims on El Camino de Santiago is deep-seated in our psyches. Wanting a real challenge and sense of accomplishment drives us.

Is wanderlust addictive?
As a boy, I used to look at the globe and want to see every inch, to get to all the corners and understand the different ways in which people live. In Iceland, for instance, they really believe in trolls. You can't possibly grasp the significance of their belief without going there.

Any essential gear for rugged journeys?
Comfortable boots and dry socks. Meindl's leather-and-Gore-Tex trekking shoes are just amazing. And I layer Bridgedale's Coolmax and Trekker socks to avoid blisters.

What do you carry with you?
Water—and the willpower to get going. That's all you need.

What do you bring back?
A rock or two. I can look at ones I picked up on a beach in Nunavut Territory above the Arctic Circle and be reminded of the entire trip: the colors, the patterns, and the whales in Lancaster Sound.

Who inspires you?
Wilfred Thesiger, a British visionary and a great traveler who lived an extraordinary life. He walked across Arabia's Empty Quarter. His Arabian Sands is sitting on my desk right now. That's my book; that's my man.

Is that why you went to Libya in April?
I wanted to see the real desert, so my wife, Martha, and I traveled to the Acacus Mountains to camp under the stars.

Where to next?
I'm thinking about Madagascar and Bhutan. The legs won't stop.


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