Filmmaker Taylor Graham and his team embark on a mission to document what remains of Arizona’s submerged Glen Canyon by kayak. Watch their 350-mile through-paddle unfold as part of a National Geographic Society-supported project focused on water management challenges in the Colorado River Basin. Activists, archeologists, scientists, government officials and members of the Navajo Nation all weigh in on the far-reaching effects of the dam that flooded Glen Canyon to create Lake Powell in 1963.
E69 is the world’s northernmost highway and one of Norway’s marvels of engineering.
From the BBC:
Running 129km north from Olderfjord to Nordkapp on a finger of land at the top of Arctic Norway, the E69 is the world’s most northerly highway, a marvel of engineering along the coast of Western Europe’s northernmost peninsula. First proposed as early as 1908 by Landslaget for Reiselivet i Norge (the country’s fledgling national tourist association), yet only completed in 1999, the road is a brilliant contradiction, connecting a handful of remote and fragile fishing communities that have long proven they are capable of living without the outside world. For many, wooden boats continue to satisfy their needs.
To drive the road today is to glimpse Norway’s wilderness at its rawest. Obsidian-black bluffs rise up over narrow sea inlets; mountains lurch into the windshield before giving way to vast plateaus pockmarked by dwarf birch; and violent storms frequently roll in from the intimidating Barents Sea. Come winter, the last stretch to Nordkapp and the abrupt cliffs of Knivskjellodden, Europe’s fabled northernmost point, becomes nearly impassable, only open for convoy driving. Without the highway, it’s easy for a first-time visitor to think that the villages along the route would be on the verge of disappearing.
The creation of the E69 came about in the 1930s to counter a downturn in the fishing industry, which brooded on the horizon after Nordkapp fishermen lost control of exclusive concession rights. New sources of income for the fishermen had to be found and a mass meeting was held in 1934 in Honningsvåg, Nordkapp’s most populous village, with harbour bosses demanding the municipal council prioritise a national highway to solve the problem.
I’m not chasing “firsts” anymore,’ said one polar guide. ‘I’m chasing “lasts”.’ I recalled his words as I gazed down at the frozen skin of the Arctic Ocean from an aged Russian helicopter. The surface was scarred with jagged lines that varied in colour from the light grey of newly formed ice to the jet black of open water. Since satellite observations began in 1979, Arctic Ocean sea ice has been decreasing by 13 per cent every decade. Not only is there less ice, but the ice that does form is thinner and less stable, making any planned activity in the region – such as ski expeditions to the North Pole – increasingly challenging. With the scientific community predicting that the first ice-free summer in the Arctic Ocean will occur before 2100, many foresee that it may become impossible to ski to the North Pole in as little as five years time because the ice will no longer be able to sustain the runway and basecamp needed for logistics.
Even so, the sea ice appeared to be anything but fragile as the helicopter landed in the middle of a wide, smooth floe to deposit me and my team at a location some 80 kilometres from the North Pole. All around us were alarming reminders that we were not on solid ground but adrift on a constantly, and chaotically shifting, raft of frozen water. Around the edge of the floe, shards of electric blue ice more than two metres thick were piled in heaps, pushed out of place by the force of wind and current driving floes against each other. Elsewhere, an eerie fog hung low over the ice rubble, indicating the presence of open water up ahead where the floe had been pulled apart to reveal the dark ocean beneath. The ferocity and power of the forces of nature on display were intimidating. It would be frighteningly easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time out here on the ice.
Mongolia!! The name of this landlocked Asian country has a magical ring to it. We could not think of Mongolia without our minds drifting on the image of the legendary Genghis Khan. Born in the 1160s, he spent his early life assembling a dedicated army of nomads from the immense grasslands of the Gobi, at 500,000 square miles, the fifth largest desert in the world. His fierce warriors were relentless. They could ride day and night, making a slice in their horses’ neck to drink the blood. By 1279 Mongols had gained full control of all of China, undeterred by the Great Wall. See how well walls work?
“The true beauty of Nepal is not the mountains, but the people who live in their shadow.” ~ Apa
Every spring the summit of Mount Everest draws people from around the world. But in its shadow live the Sherpa, a resilient, religious people, who, despite the riches surrounding the highest peak on earth, are still quite poor and uneducated.
A child of the Khumbu, Apa Sherpa climbed Everest 21 times. Pulled away at the age of 12 to work as a high altitude porter, like so many others, he would leave his family for months, risking his life on the mountain. Through his work at the Apa Sherpa Foundation, he aims to create a different future for his people.
As Apa says, “without education we have no choice.”
… taking the long way home through the market I slow my pace down. It doesn’t come naturally. My legs are programmed to trot briskly and my arms to pump up and down like pistons, but I force myself to stroll past the stalls and pavement cafes. To enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere. Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself. For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.
~ Alexandra Potter, The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety. With that said, the vast majority of people are good. Recognize the fear mongers. Be properly informed. Be aware of your surroundings. Be respectful — you are a guest in their country. Don’t attract unnecessary attention — you probably already stand out enough.