After about nine hours in the air and two more in a van—during which I was the only one who opted for the optional blanket—I have arrived in what I think is the most beautiful place on Earth: Banff, Canada.
This town in the Canadian Rockies hosts the adrenaline-pumping, awe-inspiring, I-need-to-learn-to-snowboard-before-I-am-40 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. For years, I’ve watched the Banff films on tour at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. Finally, here I am in beautiful, chilly Banff witnessing all the adventurers and action firsthand.
National Geographic’s Expeditions Council is out in force, conducting workshops to help filmmakers and authors pitch ideas to National Geographic Television, National Geographic Books, and our magazines.
Yesterday’s events consisted of multiple book festival activities, including an extremely entertaining one-man play tracing the journey of Canadian mountain guide Conrad Kain, and presentations by climber Chris Sharma and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay.
Chris’ daredevil, breathtaking climbing stories, photographs, and video had the audience gasping and cheering for more, while Mike Fay’s tales from the Redwood Transect (featured in the October 2009 issue of National Geographic magazine) and hilarious footage of Nick Nichols courting owls to the camera with a specially-designed “owl hat” filled the theater with wonder and laughter.
At the end of his talk, we high-fived Mike from our backstage seats. He was delighted to be here at Banff among friends who also love trees. The festival organizers, familiar with Mike’s famously long walks, invited him back to Canada for a trek sometime soon. (I can only hope he’ll wear socks with his beloved sandals.)
The audience quickly lined up after the show to get both Chris’s and Mike’s autographs. We all know that the attention won’t go to Mike’s head, since he’s not that kind of a guy, and he’s focused on keeping up the dialogue on sustainable forestry with various logging companies and the public.