North America

Utah Chasing Dinosaurs | North America

Utah Chasing Dinosaurs

There are monsters in the wall of bones. In the dried out sandstone desert of northeastern Utah they rise to the surface of the earth like blood flushing skin. I trail my hand against the embossed remains of enormous teeth, articulated tailbones and talons that could crush a skull like grapes. But these skeletons are not the product of nightmares; these old bones once walked the earth. “Don’t worry,” a nearby Ranger says, as if reading my thoughts. “He’s too big for your closet and he definitely won’t fit under your bed.”

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Nevada Mustang Monument | North America

Nevada Mustang Monument

The mustangs are running. At the base of the Goshute Mountains, in the Great Basin of Northern Nevada – a vast plain of white salt beds, scraggly sagebrush and sways of apple green crested wheatgrass – a herd, forty strong, cuts through the high desert in a bleached storm of pale yellow dust. In the distance, spring snow slips off shaded mountain slopes and wildflowers paint the unfathomable emptiness of America’s western range. What would it be like to ride in the midst of those galloping hooves, I wonder? Clay Nannini, a local cowboy whose swagger would run John Wayne out of town, looks at me with the glint of a knowing eye, “like thunder.”

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Yellowstone in Winter | North America

Yellowstone in Winter

Winter in Yellowstone is steam and silence and dances of fire and ice. From the edge of Old Faithful, the centerpiece of the largest active geyser basin on earth, explosions echo like war drums beneath my feet. The ground hisses. A jet of scalding water erupts 90-feet in the air and crystalises instantly in the cold, falling like falsetto keys. This is the boiling ground. A wilderness of more than 10,000 hot springs, bubbling pools and tapestries of magma heated water. Temperatures here can plummet to fifty below. Herds of wild bison, elk and wolves roam free. Winter in Yellowstone is violence and solitude, life or death, a clash of fire and freeze.

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Yosemite: High Sierra Loop | North America

Yosemite: High Sierra Loop

Mount Hoffman rises from the forests of Yosemite like a stone titan. From its steep and dauntingly exposed 11,000-foot summit the Sierra Nevada Mountains unfold before me in a panoramic of swirling granite peaks, like waves frozen in a storm, sunbeams break over the sheer face of El Capitan and the cracked edifice of Half Dome cuts like a shark’s fin through the mist of the valley below. Yosemite is the crown jewel of America’s National Parks, one of the most recognisable and stunning landscapes on Earth. But it is something more than that too.

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Colorado: Cliff Camping | North America

Colorado: Cliff Camping

I am hanging from a cliff, 500ft above the ground, in the middle of the night, with nothing to occupy my thoughts but pitch black air, bare rock walls and a dose of vertigo strong enough to cower a harpy eagle. I should be sleeping; I’ve been trying for hours. But six billion years of evolutionary common sense is keeping my pupils dilated to a steady panic. Some fears, I realise in sudden horrific clarity, are too primal to be conquered. They must be endured.

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Navajo Medicine Man Ceremony | North America

Navajo Medicine Man Ceremony

The medicine man sits before a pile of hot coals spread out on the compacted red earth floor of his Hogan – the traditional home of the Navajo.  “This is Native American church,” he tells me, pulling shiny black arrowheads and Golden Eagle feathers from his wooden medicine box, and twisting a thick translucent crystal before the flames.

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