Join Me for EXPEDITION: Pando!

Photo courtesy Marc O’Brien

Join Me for EXPEDITION: Pando!

By   |  Apr. 25, 2019

We’ve taken the roadtrip of all roadtrips, then the pilgrimage of all pilgrimages. Now we’re heading to Utah once again, this time camping—to save the life of the largest living thing on Earth! If you hunger for meaningful adventure, join us!

I’ve been working with Pando Populus since the beginning, in 2014. It’s been great seeing it grow over the years, spreading its mission to more and more people. Because of my involvement, I’ve been lucky enough to spend time at the Pando forest, the organization’s namesake.

You know the story, but I never tire of telling it because it’s so extraordinary: Pando is the largest living thing on Earth, and one of the oldest—extending over 100 acres from a single root. On the first roadtrip, my colleague Rich Binell called it a “one-tree forest,” and the description stuck. More than 45,000 tree trunks are connected underground by a single and vast root system. It’s one tree.

Over the years, I’ve seen the bright yellow leaves in Autumn just before they fall to the ground, as well as the deep green ones shimmering against the spring blue sky. I’ve hiked the forest floor, touching the trunks, and looked into those mysterious black eye-shaped scars in the bark that local Paiute describe as aspen keeping watch. This place leaves a mark on your soul. You take something back with you after every visit.

So this is why I’m going back this May. Not only am I touched, I’m scared, because Pando is dying and it needs all the help it can get. I’m in, because it’s the largest living thing on the planet. I can’t get over it. The largest living thing…

I’m planning the expedition so that I’ll have plenty of time to work with my friend Paul Rogers, Pando chief scientist, on ways to protect the tree. I want to work with Paul on things like mending fences and clearing brush. When not working, we’ll explore the trails and enjoy some recreational activities. At night, we’ll sit around a campfire, drink whiskey, share stories, and stare at the stars. I’ll also be documenting everything that happens — and how it happens — so that those who can’t make this trip can follow in our footsteps on their own or with others whenever they have time.

With this post, along with some social media, I’m putting out a call for people to join me and experience this magical place. Learn more about Pando, what’s at stake, and ways that arguably the most successful living thing on Earth—given its size—can teach about us to live in the world.

So clear your schedule, pack your camping gear and your outdoor clothes, and join me for EXPEDITION: Pando, May 2019. Click on the button below and fill out the form so we know who’s coming. A small group of 8–10 would be ideal (we already have a critical mass).

Here are a few key specs:

  • Arrive in Pando on July 11.
  • Pack up on July 14.
  • I’m organizing the adventure, but you are responsible for your own travel, food, drinks, expenses.
  • We’ll provide supper on the last night.
  • Be sure you are able to do physical work.

For more details, visit the EXPEDITION: Pando page, or email me at

See you at Pando!

Marc O’Brien has been working with people who give a damn since 2009. He is the co-founder of The Determined, a creative studio for a climate-resilient world. He’s also an adjunct instructor at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA.

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