Mountains of Mystery

Mountains of Mystery

There is no place on earth like the Mountains of the Moon. The gigantic vegetation that lines the alpine meadows, great bogs and valley bottoms of the fabled Rwenzori Mountains, and the majestic beauty of its great snow peaks shining through the constant mist have inspired many an intrepid traveller to poetic imagery. There is nothing to break the spell, nothing to dim the sense that one has journeyed back in time to a forgotten, almost primitive world, where the…

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An (Un) Reasonable Amount of Risk

An (Un) Reasonable Amount of Risk

I was shocked and deeply shaken when my pal Mick handed me a London newspaper with a terrifying front page story about wanton bloodshed in Uganda. The timing and the news could not have been much worse for me. It was January 23, 1984, the day before I was scheduled to fly from London to Nairobi, Kenya, on my way to Uganda to hike the spectacular but notoriously difficult circuit trek of the legendary Rwenzori Mountains, better known as the…

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Fear of Flying

Fear of Flying

I have racked up quite a few air miles in my many years of globetrotting, especially in the developing world. I hate flying the local airlines, especially the many ones with terrible safety records, but for a regular traveller to poor countries there is no other alternative, even when the local airline is conducting animal sacrifices to the gods to help repair its planes, or repeatedly shooing huge, wild animals off their busy runways, if not crashing into the poor…

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Only in America

Only in America

There are many absolutely crazy events that only seem to happen in the United States of America. Where else could you find a grizzled father-and-son, self-styled mountain men living wild in the Montana back country, yearning for years for an attractive young ‘mountain bride’ to kidnap and share? What are the chances they would go hunting for her one day in 1984 and spot gorgeous, young, world-class biathlete Kari Swenson jogging in the woods, grab her by force and chain…

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Muammar and Me

Muammar and Me

I will never forget the day I set sail along the “line of death” with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to challenge the US Sixth Fleet. It was January 25, 1986, and it started out like any other day in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, where I was one of about 20 foreign journalists covering a worsening dispute between Colonel Gaddafi and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The Americans were making threatening noises about Gaddafi’s alleged role in a plane hijacking and two deadly…

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Trekking Up In Old Zanskar

Trekking Up In Old Zanskar

It was September 2, 2014 – the challenging day many of us on our trek through the starkly beautiful Zanskar Mountains of Northern India had been looking forward to for weeks with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. All nine of us would be crossing the highest mountain pass of our lives, the Phortse La, at 5,570 metres, or 18,274 feet. We were all well acclimatized but the day’s planned walk had become longer. Our plans to camp at 4,915…

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Let Him Die

Let Him Die

I attend sports events almost entirely for the atmosphere. If you only want to carefully scrutinize a game it is better to watch it on TV for free. You will get far more replays, ongoing analysis and timely updates about player injuries. But nothing matches the thrill of being part of a giant roaring crowd, urging your team on to victory, riding a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. That’s why people pay massive sums to attend live sports…

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Festival Express

Festival Express

“I don’t know where you’ve been all week, but we’ve been at a party.” – Janis Joplin I always enjoy Canada Day because I love this country the way every immigrant does. On this July 1st I will celebrate it by telling the tale of my favourite Canada Day – 1970 in Winnipeg, two years after I emigrated to Canada and five years before I became a citizen. That day is part of a larger narrative – the greatest rock…

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The Ugly Americans

The Ugly Americans

I have met many delightful Americans while travelling in foreign lands, but I think it is safe to assume that collectively Americans go abroad less and are generally less well liked overseas than travellers from comparable countries because of their sense of superiority and belief in American exceptionalism. They may just be TOO exceptional for foreigners to appreciate. I encountered two of the most exceptional while hitchhiking around Europe in 1971. A few weeks earlier I had met a wonderful…

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Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead

I have travelled a lot in Third World nations and I have had my share of annoying stomach bugs and other minor intestinal ailments, but one time in October, 2008, on the fabled Snowman Trek in Bhutan – a beautiful Himalayan country east of Nepal and south of China – I experienced the worst night of my life. I woke up just before midnight and felt a horrific rumbling in my guts unlike anything I had ever experienced. It just…

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