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Influences: Royal Robbins (1935-2017)

Life is an adventure and character counts —Royal Robbins

Somewhere around 1980 or 81 my friend Chris and I headed to Yosemite in the back of my parents Econoline panel van. Mom and dad talked away as we lounged in the bean bag chairs that sufficed as seating. Chris had, as I remember, grabbed his brothers rope and climbing gear and announced to me that we were going rock climbing when we reached “The Valley”.

Where There is Love and Inspiration

Early in the morning on a swollen Rio Sambu in Panama, we drifted across a black water lagoon-like intersection, with a tree marking the beginning of an unnamed tributary. Our boatsman Juancito laughed with Michael our host, Jenna and I stared in wonder, and the Embera bowman navigated us through snags and shallow water, brushing aside overhanging trees with his oar at the mouth of the tributary. The small river felt like the river Styx,

DON’T GO THERE YOU WILL DIE.

DON’T GO THERE YOU WILL DIE.

THEY WILL KILL YOU. WHY DO

YOU WANT TO GO THERE?

 — Panamanian taxi driver about the Darien

This wasn’t the first person who told us this, but my wife Jenna and I were set on heading to the Darien. In mid 2008 we decided to take a step into the uncertain. Sometimes described as entering the heart of darkness, the Rio Sambu is a little known and explored region of the Darien jungles of southwestern Panama,

mis·ad·ven·ture

/mi-səd-ˈven-chər/

noun

1: an unlucky event or occurrence 

2: a bad experience or accident that is usually minor

Life is a series of misadventures. The stories we tell afterwards, we call adventures. It is the failures, adversities and mishaps that are the notes, musically speaking, that make the ballads of these stories. The setbacks in our endeavors, weather, illness, fear, error, and bad luck, add to our growth and make us what we are.