Thursday, August 17, 2017

Video: Hello, Iceland - A Solo Journey Through One of the Most Beautiful Countries on Earth

In the past, we've shared quite a few videos from Iceland here on The Adventure Blog, but this one ranks among the best. It was shot in that country this past May, as traveler/filmmaker Jesse Yang made a solo journey along the Ring Road and into the interior of the place. The landscapes and images captured along the way are nothing short of spectacular, reminding us of why Iceland is such a special place. Check it out below.

Hello, Iceland from Jesse Yang on Vimeo.

Video: Solar Eclipse 101 by National Geographic

As excitement builds for next week's total solar eclipse here in North America, we're likely to see a number of articles and videos explaining what to expect and why it is happening. This is clip, which comes our way from National Geographic, is one of the best I've seen so far, breaking down why an eclipse occurs and what it will be like while it is happening. In a few days we'll all get to experience it for ourselves, but until then, this video will have to do.

Nat Geo Offers 8 Tips Your Kilimanjaro Guide Forgot to Tell You

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa is on every adventure traveler's bucket list. The tallest peak on the continent, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, is an impressive accomplishment on any adventure resume. It also provides spectacular views of the surrounding landscape throughout the climb and from the summit. But, not everyone is as prepared as they should be before they go, which is why Nat Geo has put together a list of 8 things your guide probably forgot to tell you

Anyone who has ever climbed the mountain (I've been there twice) will likely get a chuckle out of some of the things that made the cut. We can probably relate to more than a few of these, with some of the tips bringing back fond memories while others might make you cringe. For those still planning a trip to Kili, this article will actually offer some insightful suggestions on what to expect and how to make the most out of the experience.

A few of the suggestions include how to handle the toilet situation on the mountain, ways of staying hydrated, and how to enjoy the time at camp a bit more. Staying relaxed and focused are two keys to a successful climb, but that isn't always easy with the uncertainty that comes with the physical challenges and the thinning air as you go higher. The article also talks about how to prepare for the ascent and how to deal with chilly temperatures, not only for yourself, but your valuable electronics. 

There are a thousand and one tips I could share with someone who is climbing Kilimanjaro for the very first time. Everything from how to train for the mountain to how to celebrate when the expedition is over. This article shares some of the advice that I would provide as well, and while it doesn't cover the really big, over-arching questions that many have, it does touch on some smaller topics that not everyone thinks about when preparing for such a big adventure. For that alone it is worth a look. 

Check it out here.

2016 Was Officially the Hottest Year on Record

More sobering news this week from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The organization has released it annual State of the Climate report, and it includes some not so surprising data. Spanning more than 298 pages, the document indicates what a lot of us probably knew already: 2016 is the warmest year on record over the course of the 137 years that such data has been tracked.

The biggest take away from the report, which is peer-reviewed for accuracy, is that carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere were measured at 402.9 parts per million. That is also the highest on record, but perhaps most startling of all is that it is the first time in 800,000 years that CO2 levels have risen above the 400 parts per million mark.

El Nino played a significant role in driving surface temperatures higher, but there were a number of other records set as well. According to the report, the global average for sea surface temperature, sea level, and the temperature of the lower atmosphere all reached record highs. Meanwhile the Antarctic sea-ice extent dropped to record lows as the impact of our warming planet took its toll on the ice.

The news of the record warm temperatures for 2016 follows two successive record breaking years in 2014 and 2015 as well. While that is not enough scientific data to indicate a trend as of yet, it also seems like more than a coincidence too. Our planet is, without a doubt, warming. It doesn't matter whether it is manmade or a natural phenomenon at this point. Debate on that topic has long ago set sail. Now, we just need to start doing more to help reverse this tide of increasing heat and start looking at ways that we can protect ourselves against the changes it will bring.

Read more about the state of our climate here.

Pacrafting Through the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska

Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is big. Really big. It covers more than 30,115 sq. miles (78,000 sq. km), covering a massive and remote wilderness in the northeastern section of the state. Just getting to the refuge, which is home to a massive herd of caribou, not to mention dell sheep, wolves black, brown, and polar bears, can be quite an adventure. Visitors are few and far between, and most discover a vast country that remains mostly untouched by man.

Recently, a team of adventurers – led by experienced mountain guide Bob Carpenter – traveled to this wild place to explore it on foot and packraft. There story is told in an interesting blog post on the Hyperlite Mountain Gear website, a company that makes the perfect gear for just such a trip. In order to save time, the men few into the refuge, landing on the south side of the Brooks Range. From there, they hiked up and over the continental divide, used their packrafts to travel down three different rivers, crossed over the coastal plain, and ended their expedition far to the north at the Arctic Ocean. All told, they covered 160 miles (257 km) across this expansive wilderness in about 14 days.

The blog post is accompanied by some spectacular photos from the journey as well, giving readers a chance to see just how beautiful this place actually is. The landscapes range from sprawling and wide open, to mountainous and demanding. Conditions in this part of the world can be challenging, even at the height of summer, and the remote nature of the refuge means that visitors must be experienced and self-sufficient while there. But, from the sounds of things, it is more than worth the effort to get the chance to explore this amazing place.

Using pacrafts is a somewhat new way to explore the backcountry and it has proven to be quite popular in Alaska, where there are plenty of rivers to run. These small, inflatable rafts can be carried just about anywhere, and while they aren't designed for use on serious whitewater, they can help adventurers float their way through some seriously remote places. In this case, it seemed the rafts came in handy for the team, who used them on multiple rivers, paddling right down to the Arctic Ocean itself. Quite a way to travel.

To read their full story, click here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Video: A Piuma - Crossing Corsica on Foot and By Paraglider

The island of Corsica is home to the GR20, which is considered one of the most famous and challenging hiking trails in all of Europe. In this video, we travel to that place to follow two adventures as they take on that trail for themselves. But rather than just walk it on foot as most other trekkers do, the decide to instead use paragliders to cover the distance. The result is one wild adventure that has to be seen to be believed.

Video: Zac Efron and Brother Dylan Apply to be Gear Testers with Columbia Sportswear

Looking for a good chuckle to get you through the day? Then check out this video from Columbia Sportswear which starts brothers Zac and Dylan Efron. The two men meet with Columbia's legendary  chairman Gert Boyle, and if you remember Gert from previous ad campaigns, you know she's tough. Apparently we'll see more of the Efron's in videos later this year and this one will give you an idea of what to expect. So far, so good.

19 Great Places to View Next Week's Solar Eclipse

If you live in North America, it's hard to not be caught up in eclipse fever at the moment. Next week marks the first total solar eclipse to hit the continent in more than 38 years, and as such there is a lot off excitement surrounding the event. So much so, that thousands of Americans are expected to travel to witness the eclipse in all its glory, with hotels and campsites booked solid in anticipation of the celestial show. If you haven't figured out where you'll be watching the eclipse unfold, Men's Journal is here to help. The magazine has compiled its own list of the 19 best places to watch, with some surprisingly good options even for the last minute traveler.
Topping the list is my current city of residence, Nashville, TN. Nashville it he largest urban area that falls within the path of totality, plus it is home to good music, great food, and plenty of other activities to take part in as well. Naturally, this has made it a popular destination for eclipse viewers, and my advice is this is: if you haven't already booked a place to stay or know someone who has a room to share, don't bother coming. There are already warning signs about traffic and the entire city is expected to be crazy through the weekend and into early next week. Personally, I had planned to just take a lawn chair and sit out in my front yard, but now I'm headed to Tahoe for a backpacking trip instead. I'll miss the totality from that vantage point, but I'll be away from the craziness too. On top of that, the current weather reports look spotty for next Monday, meaning the skies may not be as clear as one would hope.

Other locations that make the list include Greenville, South Carolina; Jackson, Wyoming and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you're planning to go to the Smokies though, be sure to head towards the southwestern part of the park to catch the totality. Other sections will offer good views as well, but they won't be in the perfect area to see the most spectacular part of the eclipse. And for the record, Grand Teton National Park is also in the in the line of totality as well.

The Men's Journal article not only lists the location, but also gives readers reasons why that place is particular special. It also lists the author's pick for the best places to watch and stay while in the area. Finding a place to stay at this point will be the real challenge, unless you have plenty of money to spend or can find a place to camp.

Either way, it should be quite an experience.

New Theory Emerges on the Demise of the Franklin Expedition Through the Northwest Passage

One of the great enduring mysteries of exploration is what exactly happened to an expedition through the Northwest Passage led by Sir John Franklin back in 1845. Franklin took two British naval ships – the HMS Terror and Erebus – into the passage in search of the passage into the Pacific Ocean beyond.  But none of the 129 men who were with him survived the journey, and exactly what happened to them has remained shrouded in legend and conjecture ever since.

It is widely believed that the two ships became stuck in the ice above Canada while attempting to traverse the Northwest Passage. Those ships were discovered by archaeologists last year, renewing interest in the story and the eventual cause of death of the crew. Obviously chief amongst those causes was likely exposure to the elements, although lead poisoning, scurvy, starvation and tuberculosis have all been speculated as well. Now, one researcher has put forth a possible new explanation.

In a scholarly journal published by the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Michigan dentistry professor Russell Taichman has postulated that a rare conditions called Addison’s disease may have contributed to the death of the crew. The disease is caused by a weakened immune system or from tuberculosis, which autopsies show was afflicting the sailors. The disease makes it difficult for anyone afflicted to maintain weight – even when eating regularly –or stay hydrated, both of which would be deadly in the Arctic.

An examination of the bodies recovered with the ships indicates that many of the crew had lead poisoning and scurvy. The lead poisoning is believed to have come from the canned food that they were eating over a prolonged period of time, as well as lead pipes that were used to create drinking water. The scurvy was due to a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets. While these were obviously serious concerns for the stranded men, Taichman believes that they only masked the possibility of Addison's disease running rampant through the crew.

In reality, it was likely a combination of all of these things, and possibly more. The local Inuit tribes still share tales of the crew setting up camps on King William Island, and staying there for some time. That would indicate that the crew survived the sinking of their ships. But what happened next is difficult to say. One thing is certain however, it wasn't a pleasant place to be, and the death of the crew – no matter how it happened – was probably agonizing.

A Team of Norwegian Rowers Have Crossed the Arctic Ocean

A team of Norwegian rowers may have become the first ever to complete a row across the Arctic Ocean from south to north. But, this impressive achievement is just one small step in their plans, which include covering more than 2000 km (1242 miles) of open ocean.

The aptly named Polar Row got underway last month from Tromso, Norway with the intention of first rowing to the archipelago of Svalbard before eventually turning back south and rowing to Iceland. The crew consists of 9 men, led by skipper Fian Paul, who has already rowed across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indiana Oceans. They completed the first leg of that journey last week, arriving in Svalbard for a short break. After that, they returned to the ocean to continue along their way. They even continued further north to reach a milestone before pointing their boat towards the finish line in Iceland.

Rowing 12 hours per day and in 90 minute shifts, the team managed to make history when they reached the Polar Ice Shelf at 78ºN latitude. It is believed that in doing so, they became the first people to actually row across the Arctic Ocean, dodging icebergs, shifting weather patterns, and high winds as they go. Their eventual goal was to touch 80ºN before turning back. After that, it was nearly impossible to continue to make progress in such a small boat.

Now, they're on their way to Iceland and expect to arrive there in early September. You can follow their progress on the team's Facebook and tracking page.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Video: Wonderful Tanzania

This video is a colorful and memorizing love letter to one of my favorite places – Tanzania. It celebrates the landscapes, wildlife, and people that make it such an amazing place to visit. For those of us who have already been there, it will be a striking reminder of why we went in the first place, possibly inspiring us to return. For those viewers who have not yet gone, you'll understand why it should be on your list of "must see" places.


Video: How the Wilderness Can Help Us Heal

Anyone who spends quality time in the outdoors can probably attest to the healing power or nature. Spending time in wild places has been proven to be good for our minds and bodies. This is a concept that is explored in this video, which comes our way courtesy of Osprey packs, who know a thing or two about helping us get outdoors. The clip was shot in the amazing landscapes of Yosemite, which if you're going to choose an outdoor environment to help the healing process, you could do a lot worse. Enjoy. 

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 5: Return to the Falkland Islands

This part 5 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my recent travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first three parts, and would like to, you can find them here, herehere, and here.

In our last installment of this series I wrote about my experiences hiking on South Georgia and following in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton, who once trekked across the rugged interior of that island in a desperate search to find help. I also talked about my visit to Grytviken, the only village there that still has a few inhabitants. After departing that place, we continued to explore more of the coastline, including approaching calving glaciers in zodiacs. But, the weather forecast took a turn for the worse, and conditions began to deteriorate rapidly. It was clear the austral winter would be arriving soon, and it was time for us to turn for home. 

On our third day in the waters off South Georgia the winds began to pick up and the waves began to grow. The already chilly temperature took a plunge and the skies turned menacing. It was clear that there was a change coming, so our crew decided it might be time to bug out early. We were scheduled to stay another full day, but if we did, we probably wouldn't be able to go ashore anyway. Storms were definitely closing in, and our window of opportunity was closing rapidly, so we turned the ship back north and started once again for the Falkland Islands.

Before we left however, we did go ashore one more time and went on another short hike up to a mountain lake. The weather conditions had already started to change, and as we walked we were battered by winds of up to 45 knots (51 mph/83 km/h), which pushed us too and fro as we trudged up to a high ridge. Snow and rain began to fall, with tiny ice pellets blasting our face too. Needless to say, it was hardly a day fit to be outside, and yet those of us who went on that hike still wanted to see as much of South Georgia as we could before we left it behind. 

Researchers Discover 91 Previously Unknown Volcanoes Under Antarctica

There was more big news out of the Antarctic this week when it was revealed that scientists have discovered the largest concentration of volcanoes on the planet hidden under the ice on the frozen continent. A research team out of Edinburgh University announced that they had found 91 new volcanoes so far, and are now trying to determine just how active they are over fears of further environmental disasters.

The research project found that most of the volcanoes were located close to large ice shelf that covers western Antarctica. The fear is that if these volcanoes are active and could potentially erupt, it would have a devastating effect on the ice, causing much of it to melt in rapid succession. That could lead to a very fast increase in ocean levels around the world, which would rise at a rate that would be far more alarming than that caused by climate change. At the moment, there is no indication that such an eruption is imminent, but the team from Edinburgh University wants to study the volcanoes more closely to determine just how active or dormant they actually are.

The research project began with a simple question. Geologists knew that Antarctica had 47 volcanoes sticking out of its ice, but no one had thought to look for more hidden under the massive ice shelf. Just how many were still left to be discovered? Researchers set about finding the answer to that question by analyzing data collected by other projects that had used ground penetrating radar to look below the surface. They began counting the volcanic cones that were evident in that data and could identify at least 91 more hidden from view.

The confirmation of this discovery makes this section of Antarctica the home to the highest concentration of volcanoes on the planet, surpassing the volcanic ridge in east Africa. The report also indicates that the tallest of these mountains is nearly 4000 meters (13,123 ft) in height as well, putting it on par with the Eiger in Switzerland.

One of the biggest fears now is that the reduction of ice in west Antarctica could reduce pressure on the volcanoes, possibly making them active again. In other words, climate change is causing the region to warm, and as it does, the ice will disappear. This will allow pent up volcanic pressure to potentially explode, making the region a hot bed of seismic activity and further melting the ice. At the moment, that seems like a possibility for the future, but as we've seen in recent months, things can and do change quickly in the Antarctic.

Read more about this discovery here.

Alan Arnette Interviews Super Sherpa Mingma Gyalje Following Success on K2

If you followed the climbing season in the Karakoram this year the name Mingma Gyalie Sherpa is probably a familiar one by now. He's the founder and head guide of Dreamers Destination, a company that organizes expeditions to 8000 meter peaks and treks through the Himalaya. Mingma has been an incredibly strong and tough climber for some time now, having already summited Everest on several occasions and topping out on K2 back in 2014. But this year, he put his stamp on the mountaineering world by knocking off 4 big mountains and nearly a 5th, with perhaps more to come.

Recently, Alan Arnette had the chance to interview Mingma on his accomplishments so far in 2017 and what he has planned next. He also talked about how his teams have been so successful this year, including reaching the top on K2 when everyone else turned back and headed for home.

In the interview, Mingma G touches on a host of interesting topics, including how climbing in Pakistan is improving dramatically, the impact of the fast changing weather on the team's plans to climb K2, and team dynamics for expeditions to 8000-meter peaks. He also discusses his approach to weighing the risks of a climb, what it was like when the team launched their summit bid, and much, much more.

This is a good read for anyone who follows the climbing scene closely and is interested in the logistics that go into an expedition. There are lots of details revealed here, including what it was like to make the treacherous descent down K2 after a long climb to the summit. Mingma also talks about his next projects, which will come in the fall post-monsoon in Nepal. He says that he is already planning an expedition to Manaslu in September, but also has another 8000-meter project in the works that he isn't quite ready to discuss yet. If he summits Manaslu, that will give him successful climbs on 5 8000-metere peaks this year (Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Broad Peak, and K2), as well as one near miss on Nanga Parbat too. That's quite a year for anyone.

Read the full interview here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Video: Take a Tour of Wild Antarctica

To many people, Antarctica is a cold, desolate spot that they have no interest in visiting for themselves. But those in the know understand that is is actually a beautiful destination, filled with life and endless possibilities for adventure. In this video, we travel to the frozen continent and take a four-minute tour of some of the wonders that it has to offer. You'll see seals, whales, and other wildlife, as well as stunning images of glaciers and pristine coastline that stretches for thousands of miles. It is a great clip that will leave those of us wanting to visit this place for ourselves even more convinced that we need to go.

Video: Check Out the Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge in the World

Randa, Switzerland is the home of the longest suspension bridge in the world. This impressive feat of engineering spans more than 1620 feet (493 meters) in length and is 279 feet (85 meters) high at its tallest point. The bridge just opened a couple of weeks back, and in this clip we get a chance to see exactly what it looks like for ourselves. Who's ready to go take a walk over this thing with me?

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 4: Walking in the Footsteps of Shackleton

This part 4 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my recent travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first three parts, and would like to, you can find them herehere, and here

In my last installment of my travelogue for this trip, I wrote about the arrival of our ship – the National Geographic Explorer – at South Georgia, and our first encounters with the amazing wildlife that we found there. That includes tens of thousands of penguins and seals, as well as the occasional dolphin and whale too. 

But, South Georgia isn't just a place to spot vast amounts of animals. Anyone who knows about the island, probably also know that it played a crucial role in one of the greatest survival stories in the history of exploration and adventure. It was the destination that Ernest Shackleton and his team desperately tried to reach after being stranded in the Antarctic for months back in 1915 and 1916. I won't recount that tale here, as there are several great books to read on the subject, and I myself wrote an extensive article about the story for Popular Mechanics a few months back. 

I arrived at South Georgia knowing Shackleton's ordeal all too well, and I was excited to see the place that placed such a crucial role in the eventual rescue not only of the British explorer, but all of his men. I also knew that several years later Shackleton lost his life while on a return visit to South Georgia on his way to the Antarctic once again. I knew that his grave could be found there and at one point we would visit it. That was yet to come however, and we had several more adventures ahead of us before that would happen. 

While visiting the island we made several more stops at places like Right Whale Bay, Rosita Harbor, and Prion Island. Each of those stops provided more encounters with wildlife, including several different species of penguins and albatross. At that point, seeing these creatures, along with hundreds of fur seals, and become common place, although it was no less magical. The wildlife that inhabits South Georgia is truly spectacular, hence the nickname "the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean."

How to Become an Adventure Filmmaker

Aspiring adventure photographers and filmmakers listen up – we have an article/interview that you'll want to read. Outside magazine has published a profile of adventure filmmaker Aidan Haley in which he shares lots of great insights and tips on what it takes to do his job and become a professional in that field.

Haley is the cousin of American mountaineer Colin Haley, and the duo often climbed together when they were younger. But, Aidan realized early on that he wasn't going to become a professional climber like Colin, so he looked for other ways to mix his passion for the outdoor and adventure into his life. He started taking photos while climbing and discovered that he had a love for doing that as well. 

Despite having very little formal training, that turned into a career after college as he went knocking on doors in Paris looking for a job. Eventually, Aidan made his way to Los Angeles where he learned the craft of filmmaking as well, serving as a production assistant on a variety of shoots. Now, at the age of 30 he is working on projects with the likes of The North Face, Patagonia, and National Geographic

In the Outside profile Haley talks about his career path, how persistence allowed him to keep working towards his goals, and his early fears of working freelance. He also talks about overcoming creative stagnation, the importance of scheduling playtime for yourself, and not allowing your career to define who you are.

As someone who is a freelancer himself, I found the section on"What People Don't Realize" to be especially fitting. Here's what Aidan has to say on that subject: 
“My peers with nine-to-five jobs often think I don’t work very much or very hard, which is completely wrong. Often, my job is nine-to-nine. If you want to be a freelance filmmaker, think about the last time you worked 24 hours straight, then imagine doing that for an entire month. Growing up, I took a lot of shortcuts on my homework—you can’t do that and be any good at filmmaking. Editing is a meticulous job, so if you screw up one tiny step at the end of a five-hour process, you gotta go back and repeat the whole thing again.”
That's definitely something I can relate to at times. To read the entire article, click here. And to check out Aidan's work visit his website at

Team Seagate Wins Adventure Racing World Championships Again

This past weekend a new world champion was crowned in the Adventure Racing World Series. Or should we say, a familiar team was named champion once again. New Zealand's Team Seagate once again showed why they are the best team in the world, dominating all of the competition at this year's championship race to claim their fourth straight title and fifth overall.

This year's world championship was hosted by the Cowboy Tough race in Wyoming, bringing the competition to the U.S. for the very first time. The event featured all of the usual adventure racing disciplines, including trekking, trail running, mountain biking, paddling, climbing, navigation, and so on. As usual, the course was a tough one, covering some 450 miles (724 km) over six days. It took Seagate – which consists of Joanna Williams, Bob Mclachlan, Stuart Lynch, and Chris Forne – just 79 hours, 13 minutes, and 30 seconds to cover that distance.

As of this writing, six total teams have completed the race with Team Haglofs/Silva of Sweden taking second place 4.5 hours behind senate, and American squad Team Adventure Medical Kits claiming third another half hour back. That leaves the majority of the teams to still cross the finish line, with most having about three more days to wrap up the race. With the winners now declared, the remaining squads are racing against their own goals and expectations, and for the pride of knowing that they completed one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet.

With the world championships wrapped up in August this year, the rest of the AR schedule looks fairly quiet throughout the remainder of the year. That means the teams and race organizers will begin looking ahead to 2018, which will be filled with a number of great races once again. With qualifying races held on six continents, there should be plenty of action to follow. And next year's race will be held on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, which should be a beautiful and difficult destination indeed.

Congrats to Seagate on another successful season and to all the teams that raced in the AR World Series this year.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Video: Nat Geo and Pristine Seas Take Us on a Wild Journey

We'll end the week with this wonderful video from National Geographic and the Pristine Seas initiative. The short clip was shot near Cape Horn, in the Magallanes region in Chile, which is home to a rich and wild ecosystem. The goal of Pristine Seas is to protect and preserve those places, which have become increasingly threatened in recent years. This is a beautiful part of the world, and as you'll see, it is a place well worth exploring and preserving.

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 3: The Serengeti of the Southern Ocean

This part 3 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first two parts, and would like to, you can find them here and here.

When I last left off in my story, the National Geographic Explorer, my home home for the three-week journey, had left the Falkland Islands behind and we began the journey to the remote island of South Georgia. To get there, we would spend two days at sea, leaving behind the Atlantic Ocean and South American continental plate, as we crossed over into the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic Plate instead. Along the way, there was a noticeable chill added to the air as we made our way south, providing some indication that we had indeed traveled to an entirely new part of the world.

Anyone who is familiar with the sailing route to the Antarctic also knows that in order to get there you must first pass through the infamous Drake Passage. Named for the English sailor Sir Francis Drake, who discovered the waterway that links the Atlantic, Pacific, and Souther Oceans back in 1578, this lonely stretch of sea is famous for its turbulent waters. Fortunately for us, it was extremely calm on our passage south, with very few issues at all. That said, the Drake still rocked the Explorer enough that those susceptible to sea sickness still found the it to be a bumpy crossing, with some of the passengers confining themselves to their rooms for the duration. The crew even put up safety ropes leading in and out of the dining area to assist travelers as they came and went. Despite calm conditions, the ship still listed here and there, and it wasn't uncommon to have to shift in one direction or another as the Explorer moved under us. A few days in, we were still getting our sea legs, but slowly we would acclimate to the movement.

While en route to South Georgia we continued to spot an array of sea life. In addition to the occasional dolphin, we also spotted several more species of whales, including humpbacks and fin whales. But, one of the highlights of the entire trip was when we came across a pair of blue whales swimming amongst a pod of fins. I had never thought to see a blue whale in my lifetime, but there they were before me. The largest animals that have ever lived, the blue whale can stretch up to 30 meters (98 ft) in length and can weigh an astonishing 173 tons (380,000 lbs/173,000 kg). Watching these amazing creatures swimming right along side our ship was truly a wonder, and it is a sight that has stayed with me long after I've returned home.

World's Longest Mountain Bike Trail Could Get Even Longer

At 2700 miles (4345 km) in length, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is considered the longest such trail in the world. Currently, it stretches from Banff in Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, with about 90% of the route completely unpaved. For long distance adventure riders, it is the Appalachian Trail of mountain biking, luring hundreds of cyclists on an annual basis. Now, if everything goes as planned, it could get even longer.

According to a report from Gear Junkie, the Adventure Cycling Association has begun fund-raising efforts to collect enough cash to extend the trail another 400 miles. The plan is to extend the trail into Jasper National Park in Canada and swing a section of the route into Missoula, MT – home of the ACA.

This move comes as the GDMBR celebrates its 20th anniversary. Way back in 1997 when the trail was first conceived, no one knew that it would take on a life of its own. This year, the ACA hopes to complete the official construction of the route, finishing the last section into Antelope Wells. Up until now, it was unofficially opened and easy to follow, but still requires some trail work.

The GDMBR is also the route followed by the Tour Divide Race, an event we've followed closely in the past. That race pits top endurance mountain bikers against one another to see who can ride end-to-end the fastest. According to Gear Junkie, it takes most people 37 days to ride it from start to finish, but the record set during the TDR is just 13 days, 22 hours, and 51 minutes. All self-supported along the way.

Donations are being taken to the effort awn the Adventure Cycling Association webpage, with all funds taken in by September 30 being matched by the ACA itself. Find out more by visiting that page here.

100-Year Old Fruit Cake Belonging to Robert Falcon Scott Found in the Antarctic

The Antarctic Heritage Trust continues to unearth some interesting artifacts on the frozen continent. In the past, they have discovered Shakleton's whiskey, a notebook belonging to a photographer who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott on his Terra Nova expedition, and countless other important historical items from the huts of Scott and Shackleton that the organization helped restore. Now, you can add one more unique find to that list, as researchers have uncovered a 100-year old fruit cake that is believed to have belonged to Scott as well.

The cake was found still wrapped in paper and locked away inside an original tin carrying case. It was made by a company called Huntley & Palmers, which is a brand that Scott was known to have taken with him on his ill-fated Terra Nova expedition, which lasted from 1910-1913, and ended with the famous explorer and his team losing his life on the return journey from the South Pole.

According to the report from the AHT, the tin that contained the cake was in poor condition when it was found. It had to be treated with rust removal and chemical stabilization before being handled, with further work done on the exterior of the can as well as the paper inside. Surprisingly however, the cake itself was said to be in "excellent condition."

The fruit cake was a favorite treat amongst Antarctic explorers, who not only found it tasty but also high in calories to help fuel their travels across the ice. This particular item was found in a rather nondescript tin that is amongst the last of the artifacts that researchers are combing through from the Cape Adare hut. The AHT has been studying those items for months and the cake came as a bit of a hidden surprise as the research team began to wrap up its investigations.

The hut at Cape Adare was originally built for a prior expedition back in 1899, but Scott used it as part of his 1911 Antarctic journey as well. They were the first of their kind built on the Antarctic continent, and the AHT is now setting about restoring them. When that process is finished, all of the artifacts they have collected – including the fruit cake – will be returned to the site.

To find out more about this unusual find, read the full article from the AHT here.

Sailing Legend Peter Burling Joins Volvo Ocean Race

Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race is still two months from getting underway, but it is already starting to get more and more interesting. Teams are now entering a number of warm-up events in preparation for the round-the-world completion, and now it has been revealed that New Zealand racing legend Peter Burling is set to enter the race in an attempt to become the first person to win the Triple Crown of Sailing.

Burling has joined Team Brunei and has already begun training with his new mates. He and the crew are now putting their ship through its paces prior to the October 22 start of the race. They started by racing from Plymouth, UK to Saint-Malo, France, which is the third stage of the Volvo Ocean Race’s Leg Zero qualifying series.

The helmsman is an experienced sailor who has rocketed to notoriety first by winning gold for New Zealand at the 2016 Olympics in the 49er class. Earlier this year, he added to his resume by also winning the America's Cup as part of Emirates Team New Zealand as well. This puts him in a rare position to be able to potentially win the third leg of sailing's so called "Triple Crown," which not only includes those two events but the Volvo Ocean Race as well.

“I’ve always wanted to do this race – although I haven’t done a lot offshore, I’ve always been keen to get involved but always struggled to find the time," Burling said prior to the start of the qualifying leg. "It seems like good timing and a great opportunity to learn a lot off a pretty experienced team.”

When the VOR gets underway in October, 7 teams will set sail on a race that will test them both mentally and physically. The event gets underway in Alicante, Spain, and eventually ends in The Hague sometime next June. In between they'll cover some 40,000 nautical miles, visit six continents, and make 11 ports of call. 

"Round-the-world ocean racing has always excited me and I'm stoked to be part of Team Brunel on this epic edition," Burling said. He went on to add "I can't wait to be thrown into the challenge of extreme offshore racing and broaden my skills and sailing experience."

Find out more about the Volvo Ocean Race at the official website for the completion.