October 2017 Update #1, Europe
This is the latest of what I intend to be occasional updates on my journey producing Torrents As Yet Unknown: Exploring Earth’s Great River Gorges. What I am anticipating is another two years or so of research, writing, re-writing, agent searching, publisher searching, and more re-writing. Followed by the exciting publication process, and the intimidating marketing process!
I’ve just returned from three fun and educational weeks of research in Europe. I started with my old friends Bernd Kirstein and Werner Moreth, who introduced me to river running in the Alps and Corsica in the ‘70s. Bernd and I scouted up and down the Inn River Valley in Switzerland, where British kayaker Mike Jones got his first taste of expedition paddling in 1969. We also ran up to Bavaria and interviewed the widow and son of the great German paddler Hans Memminger, who led a 1974 expedition on the Kali Gandaki in Nepal.
My next step was Prague, where I joined up with another old friend, Lida Sirotkova, who, along with others on the Czech National Slalom Team, introduced me to international slalom in the ‘60s. From Prague we drove a loop around Bohemia and Slovakia, meeting with several members of what I now believe was the first (and still little known) major kayak and canoe expedition to the Himalayas, a 1973 descent of the Dudh-Kosi on the flanks of Mount Everest.
My final week was a loop around Great Britain by train – London to the Scottish Borders to Aberdeen, Scotland, to LLangollen, Wales. Following up the Mike Jones story, I had fascinating discussions with Sir Chris Bonington, who was the Sunday Telegraph photojournalist on the Inn River expedition; Jeff Slater, who put together and led that expedition; Chris Baillie, Mike Jones’s sister; and Dave Manby, who paddled with Mike on expeditions to Everest, Venezuela, and the Karakoram where Mike died in 1979. In addition to the invaluable research material I collected, I had great visits with these veteran paddlers that I had known of but never met, and I was honored to be asked to speak to canoeing groups in Aberdeen and Llangollen. (Maybe those count as the official start of my “book publicity touring”?)
I am sincerely grateful to all those who helped make this such a great experience. I’m already having to rethink and redraft some of my former ideas about those expeditions.
Next step, end-October to mid-November, will be a three-week intensive writing program in Banff, along with the Banff Mountain & Wilderness Film and Book Festival.
Never stop exploring!