With last night's soggy weather transforming everyone's commute home into an arduous trek, it seemed only fitting that the Explorer's Club hosted Jon Turk, a man well-versed in the art of the treacherous trip.
For more than 40 years, this academic-turned-adventurer has made it his business to traverse the most uninhabitable regions of the globe, from the towering rock walls of Canada's Baffin Island to the stormy waters around Cape Horn.
"A recent critic called my journeys 'meandering,'" the mustachioed maverick said with a wry grin. "I took that as a compliment."
For a man born and raised in Connecticut and holding a PhD in chemistry, the wiry Turk has had his fair share of off-the-beaten-path expeditions, and he was happy to regale a rapt audience at the Explorer's gorgeous UES townhouse.
Tales ranged from hanging with narwhal hunters in Greenland to paddling his kayak from Japan to Alaska by route of Siberia's ice-riddled shoreline. On that famed 2000 journey, while resting in a remote Siberian village some nine time zones from civilization, Turk met a local shaman woman named Moolynaut, who beseeched him to return.
A year later he did, even though sponsors thought he was a nut and dropped all funding, and his experiences living amongst reindeer herders on the frozen tundra and delving deep into the spiritual world with Moolynaut is the subject of his new book, "The Raven's Gift."
Though a scientist, Turk’s time with Moolynaut (who inexplicably cured him of a nagging physical ailment) helped him redefine the root of adventure.
“The spirit world comes first. That is what I’ve finally learned from 40 years of adventuring," he said to a room full of nodding supporters.
However, this far out, spiritual take on the outdoors has been a hard pill to swallow for the more macho breed of outdoorsmen, particularly those of the impressionable collegiate variety.
“Following a speaking engagement, the student president of the Cornell Outing Club sent me an email telling me to f--- off," the affable adventurer said with a roaring laugh.