Mullikin and Quiroga to lead Ecuadorian expedition in 2022

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Dr. Tom Mullikin, the celebrated global expedition leader from South Carolina and chair of the S.C. Floodwater Commission, is planning yet another grand adventure: This one, not unlike his annual, month-long SC7 expedition across the Palmetto State from the mountains to the sea, will begin on Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo and will conclude in the famed Galápagos Islands. Along the trek and at the conclusion of the expedition – dubbed HUMBOLDT TO DARWIN – Mullikin and Dr. Diego Quiroga, along with scientists from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), will teach participants about the “historic and ecologically significant area” Mullikin says.

This latest exploratory adventure-in-the-works is by no means surprising to those who know Mullikin best: The former U.S. Army officer, retired major general (commander) of the S.C. State Guard, and the environmental attorney has been exploring, educating others about and researching the planet’s most remote and often dangerous environs for decades. His expeditionary accomplishments to date are legion: Having logged SCUBA dives in every ocean on Earth and climbed mountains on every continent, including four of the seven great summits and surrounding ranges.

No less accomplished, Dr. Quiroga, who serves as president of USFQ, is an acclaimed anthropologist and Olympic swimmer, having competed in two events in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Quiroga’s professorial research has focused on human ecology, political ecology, and medical anthropology in the Galápagos, the Amazon, and the Andes. His completed research topics range from biodiversity vulnerability to religion and traditional medicine.

The HUMBOLDT TO DARWIN expedition will be no less arduous (perhaps austere is a better word) than Mullikin’s previous adventures. But Mullikin contends, he together with Quiroga and other USFQ scientists “will make it fun and rewarding” in terms of a crash-course mastery of the region.

This expedition will begin on Mt. Chimborazo (Chimborazo is the point on the Earth’s surface that is farthest from the Earth’s center and the highest point from the planet’s surface and up into the atmosphere) with a trip down the mountain on mountain-bikes (off-road bicycles) following the Inca Trail through the Andean highlands to a specified point, then kayaking to the coast before taking a short flight to the Galápagos archipelago made famous by 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin.

“This will be an extraordinary adventure as we explore the beautiful history and ecology, learning about it on the trail – spending time and breaking bread with indigenous villagers and interacting with scientific leaders who have studied the area for decades,” says Mullikin. “This will also be a grand opportunity to showcase the great work of USFQ, the country of Ecuador and this incredible, largely unknown corner of the world.”

Mullikin has taught for years at USFQ on their Galápagos campus.

Humboldt to Darwin: The Great Naturalist Trail is named after naturalists Alexander Von Humboldt and Darwin.

– Pictured are Quiroga (L) and Mullikin with Mt. Chimborazo in the distance.

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