Hell or High Water by Peter Heller

Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet is likely the deepest canyon in the world. And at 504.6 kilometres (313.5 mi) is slightly longer than the Grand Canyon.

In 2002 a group of the best kayakers in the world led by Scott Lindgren set out to “paddle” the gorge.

That’s nearly impossible. But they did accomplish some first descents. And surprisingly none of the party died.

It was the most dangerous water they’d ever tried.

This is one intense book.

Peter Heller was assigned to cover the expedition for Outside and, despite having completely worn out the cartilage in one hip, he decided to go for it.

… Heller is unflinchingly honest about the hostility he faced from Lindgren and his companions, who openly attack the journalist for “getting rich” from their story, as well as the resentment that begins to well inside him at their condescension.

Meanwhile, the locals hired to carry the equipment realize they have the upper hand and start extorting more money for their services.

The drama on shore, however, is easily matched—sometimes surpassed—by the action on the river, which includes a few chilling brushes with death.

Heller nimbly blends the history of the region into his gripping modern trek, as the crew lives up to the legacy of the great explorers before them. …


China plans to build the world’s largest hydroelectric project there.

Kayaking Spider Lake on Vancouver Island

Spider Lake Provincial Park near Qualicum Beach is is popular for canoeing, kayaking and swimming.  Especially for families.

It’s stocked with small mouth bass and rainbow trout — but catching them is another matter.

On one of the first hot weather days of the summer, my brother took me out on his excellent sit-on-top kayaks.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Banff Film Festival World Tour 2019-20

Always inspiring.

It’s the 40th year of the World Tour.

They used Mount Royal University in 2020 as one of their Calgary venues for the first time.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.


Here’s the official Film Festival Speed Lite 12 day pack by Deuter I won by random draw. US$54 on Amazon.

Festival poster.

kayaking the Marble Caves in Patagonia

On every list of the BEST tourist destinations in Chile are the Capilla de Marmol out of Puerto Río Tranquilo.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I loved it.

This was my first stop after sending back my bike.

I got here by taking a the bus though increasingly open spaces heading south.

It’s all gravel past of Cerro Castillo. The best vehicles protect themselves.

Puerto Río Tranquilo is a tiny town (pop. 500) swamped by tourists in high season.

Río Tranquilo

All accommodation was booked by the time I got there so I walked out of town to lovely Pudu Campground. (Each campsite has a windbreak wall. This IS Patagonia.)

Locals are ready for serious rain.

This van is a rental from Wicked Campers. It looks to be the most popular way to drive the Carretera Austral.

It’s an incredible part of the world. Stunning views on to General Carrera Lake and beyond.

Almost everyone jumps into small boats to visit this weird and wonderful geology.

I’d been advised to go by kayak. And on the first tour in the morning. Therefore I was up before 6am getting coffee ready.

Surprisingly few sign up for kayaking. My group had 7 clients and 2 guides. It was very professional. (C$100)

I recommend it.

Following the trip I’d planned to hop a bus continuing south. But the road was closed for 4 hours due to forest fire.

We sat in the sun and watched helicopters trying to douse the flames.

Hurry up and wait happens in Patagonia.

misadventures on Lasqueti Island B.C.

Nobody goes to Lasqueti. Nobody I’ve ever spoken to.

I’d heard rumours:

Lasqueti has no cars. Roads are unpaved. Tourists not welcome. Private ferry runs on demand. People live off the grid. …

Turns out most of that is untrue.

Centurion VII, a 60 person passenger ferry, runs regularly in the summer from French Creek marina, close to Parksville. Tourists cannot bring cars.

There are about 425 permanent residents (6 months / year or more) and they do look like hippies. Men don’t use razors. Young women forget to put on a brassiere some mornings.

However, Statistics Canada reports that Lasqueti Island is the most highly educated community in the province. Residents represent diverse professions, from poets, artists, physicists, professional consultants and professional musicians to fishermen, loggers, tree planters and commercial agriculturalists.

Life is off grid. Power comes from solar panels, wind generators, diesel generators and propane.

All 73 square kilometres is designated park or privately owned. No squatters.

I could live there. High-speed internet is available.

No campgrounds. One hotel and a handful of rooms for rent.

read more – Life off the grid: What’s going on in Lasqueti Island?

I rolled my bike on to the first ferry. Planned to explore the island on a sunny day. 

It was busy in July. Locals and their visitors make frequent trips back and forth to Vancouver Island. 

I was happy having just mailed the last of my videos to Gymnastics Canada. I’m about about as free as you can be

The cycling is excellent. Roads aren’t paved, but they are nicely surfaced. (I was warned that people fly over the handlebars when hitting unexpected washboard at high speed.)

Locals all own motor vehicles but hardly ever drive them. There’s no place to go. Very little traffic. 

About 12km along I got a flat rear tire. Sadly I’d not bothered to throw tools and an extra tube into my pack. 

Oh well, I was still happy to have visited. I started walking the bike back. 

The third vehicle to pass stopped and offered me a ride. He was a cyclist who first come to Lasqueti 1981, reading about the little known destination in a Yachting magazine. Now retired, he spends 7 months in Canada, 5 months motor touring New Zealand each year. 

With about a km left to push-a-bike I decided to stop at one of the amazing low tide bays. 

It was a short steep-slope scramble down to the water. I stepped into a wasp’s nest. First time ever.

Freaking, I sprinted out into the mud only to lose a shoe in the muck. What could I do?

… I stood my ground slapping until every wasp was dead or fled. Then dug out my shoe.


Still, for some reason I remained happy. Stings hurt less than I would have expected. I counted at least nine. 

I arrived back at the dock with about 2 hours left before my return ferry. 

Called my Dad to inform about my useless wheels and dirty, wasp-stung condition. He would pick me up on the other side. 

I ordered some Salmon chowder. And enjoyed the gorgeous day. 

I’d definitely recommend you cycle Lasqueti. Kayaking would be good too. If you come over by ferry bring some sort of transportation.

Click PLAY or watch some drone footage on YouTube.

Chile January 2018

If all goes well I’ll be headed for Patagonia via Chile in January. I was last there February 2015.

Goal will be hiking, cycling and kayaking during the South American summer.

Lonely Planet named Chile their #1 travel destination for 2018.

Click PLAY or watch a travel promo on YouTube.

Chile is far from perfect. Here are all the things I don’t like about the nation.

I may be spending more time on the Argentinian side this time.

kayaking Desolation Sound

After our spiritual leader – Blill – led our hiking group down from Manzanita hut to civilization, we had 2 extra days on a B.C. hiking holiday.

What to do?

start of the Sunshine Coast Trail

We decided to rent kayaks on Okeover inlet and paddle into the Marine Park. It was inexpensive. C$31 each for an assortment of fibreglass and plastic singles and doubles.

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The weather on the water was fantastic. Very calm.

When it got too hot – needless to say – water fights broke out.

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This area is known for Oyster farms.


One oddity was seeing a deer in the salt water. It needed salt, we assumed.


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