Text & photos by Bruce Kirkby.
On May 7, 2014, we woke our boys (Bodi, 3 and Taj, 7) before dawn, leading them groggily downstairs in fuzzy pyjamas. A half carton of milk and a box of cereal were all that remained in a kitchen prepared for renters. After a hurried breakfast together, my wife Christine pressed their feet into tiny hiking boots. Then we stepped out the back door… and just kept going.
Launching canoes in the nearby headwaters of the Columbia River, we paddled northwards for five days, until reaching the Trans-Canadian railway, where we left the boats behind and flagged a train to the coast. From there, a 77,000-ton container ship carried us across the Pacific. A swirl of bullet-trains, tuk-tuks, riverboats, taxis, and ferries bore us onwards – through Korea, into China, over Tibet, down to the jungles of Nepal – before spitting us out onto the baking plains of India.
Upon reaching the Himalayan foothills, we loaded our duffel bags onto donkeys and set out to cross the great range by foot. Ninety-six days after leaving home, we arrived at a Buddhist monastery: a warren of whitewashed buildings plastered across rocky cliffs. The four of us would live here, sharing an 8’ x 8’ earthen room with a senior lama, until the winter snows flew.
A crew from Travel Channel followed us halfway around the world – producers, camera operators, sound technicians – and the nine-episode series they created, Big Crazy Family Adventure, premieres later this month on Travel Channel (US) and DTour (Canada).
Bruce Kirkby is a MEC Ambassador.