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August 12, 2012: Climbing an Electric Rock Face, Fishing in Alaskan Waterways, and More

Most people think of Mount Kilimanjaro as the big mountain in Africa to climb. But Jake Norton's accent of Mount Kenya was a more periling journey as his team became stuck in a sever lightning storm. (Photo by W. Robert Moore / National Geographic)
Most people think of Mount Kilimanjaro as the big mountain in Africa to climb. But Jake Norton’s accent of Mount Kenya was a more periling journey as his team became stuck in a sever lightning storm. (Photo by W. Robert Moore / National Geographic)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend. Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below! HOUR 1 Many people, including Boyd, think of Kenya’s Mount Kilimanjaro as just a long hike, rather than a technically difficult mountaineering experience. But that’s not to say steep peaks can’t be found in Africa. Jake Norton was climbing Mount Kenya, which is not as high as Kilimanjaro, but a much tougher climb. This was compounded by the fact that when Norton and his team were just 100 feet below the summit, they were forced to stop climbing due to an electrical storm so intense that he could feel it through the rock face he was sitting on. Norton climbs for Challenge 21, which raises money for safe drinking water in the developing world. Listen here. Meave Leakey held onto the skull, even though she didn’t know exactly how it fit. The National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence found the two million year old cranium near Kenya’s Lake Turkana in 1972. If the skull wasn’t an “aberrant specimen,” she knew that it didn’t belong to a member of homo erectus or homo habilis, who lived in the same area at that time. But Leakey finally found other specimen like that of skull 1470. She tells Boyd that the species doesn’t necessarily represent a human forbear, but is certainly a related species. Listen here. It’s thunderstorm season in America’s Great Plains. That means Tim Samaras is whipping around Oklahoma, Texas and their neighbors, chasing extreme weather, trying to take pictures of lightning. He’s dragging along the world’s fastest camera – capable of snapping 10,000 frames per second – in attempts to be the first to snap a shot of lightning in its “sky-to-earth” path, rather than the very common shots of lightning on its return path to the heavens. Samaras is featured in the August 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine, highlighting his weather work. Listen here. David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, joins Boyd this week to marvel at a showdown between a small hippo and a pair of hungry lions. The more patient animal wins. (Listen to find out which animal is more patient!) Listen here. HOUR 2 National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver loves to fish. He joined Boyd to chat about a recent trip to Alaska to observe the effects of the controversial proposed Pebble Mine and its possible effects on the area’s fisheries and the local salmon run. And while he was in the neighborhood, he couldn’t resist dipping his rod into the Stuyahok River, catching and releasing his way from the mountains, down through the tundra, and into the forests where he met some delicious salmon. Seaver left Boyd a Grilled Alaskan Salmon with Tarragon Butter recipe to try, rather than using the bear spray to add spice to the fillets, (a staple of Boyd’s cookbook). Listen here. When the sun goes down in much of the world, that’s when the day ends. Countries that lack hardwired electricity in the homes of their citizens leave their people in the dark, unless they have access to portable power. But Thomas Culhane, who is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and professional tinkerer, has a solution. By wiring 11 watt light bulbs to well used AAA batteries, Culhane can make a light shine for up to 5 hours. And with his inexpensive and portable solar panels that he constructs on-site, villagers can charge 7 to 8 of the batteries at a time. Listen here. In today’s world, where everything has to be faster, better and easier, the concept of slowing it down and taking your time seems like a novelty. Filipe Leite knows the simple pleasure of traveling slow, letting the sun shine on your back, and enjoying a ride on your favorite horse. But he’s taking it to the extreme by riding two horses from Calgary to Sao Paulo, Brazil, a 10,000 mile trip that could take up to two years. Boyd asked if he’s worried about finding food and shelter on his unsupported journey? Leite says that his plan is to to trust people and “just give ‘er.” Listen here. Have you seen “Car Henge“? Or John Wayne’s likeness carved from a 13-ton chunk of rock? Or the Flatwoods Monster? If not, jump in your car and get road tripping! Roadside America’s Ken Smith runs through his favorite roadside diversions, while comforts Boyd on his bizarre Muffler Man fixation. Listen here. In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd tells about a recent fly fishing trip with his wife, where a very good guide helped them find the best place to fish and earned Boyd’s eternal gratitude. Listen here.