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Northern America

Northern America

Perilous paradise

Hawaii3

The old trade route along the Nā Pali coast recently deteriorated, but brave workers are restoring its pride.

The scenery befits movies such as King Kong and Jurassic Park. On Kaua’i, the fourth largest island of the Hawaii archipelago, deep naked valleys and rugged mountainsides blend with canyons and wild waterfalls to create a landscape close to utopian. Imagining giant gorillas and dinosaurs here is hardly difficult. In fact, the island featured in both movies.

Kaua’i grew from an ancient volcano that rose more than eight kilometres (five miles) from the seafloor. With time, rain has carved out deep ridges in the mountains. National parks now protect an area that continues to be shaped by Hawaii’s unpredictable weather. On the land, the primitivism of past settlements is retained. There is no drinking water, no showers and no camping facilities for visitors. Continue Reading…

Northern America

Land of the giants

Pierdelune

The world’s largest trees have survived for more than 3,000 years, but their futures lie in human hands.  

They are the giants of nature; the skyscrapers of Mother Earth. In Sequoia National Park, some 8,000 giant sequoias rise firmly from the forest floor and branch out at a height of up to 80 metres. Only by placing humans next to their roots can one really fathom their size. The species is not the world’s tallest tree type. Nor is it the widest or oldest. But by trunk volume, it is the biggest. Continue Reading…

Adventure, Northern America

Wild wonders

Sandra-Cunningham

The Canadian Rockies make a perfect playground for adrenaline-seeking adventurers. 

By now, the story is well known. In 1883 three construction workers toiling away on the Canadian Pacific Railway stumbled across a cave in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. They encountered a series of hot springs. After various disputes, it was decided the area be protected. In 1885 Banff National Park was created; the very first in Canada. Continue Reading…

Ecology, Northern America

Backyard science

Elena-Elisseeva-_-Shutterstock.com

In Canada, a grassroots project is highlighting climate change by focusing on the country’s most treasured cultural possession: skating rinks.

 

Some months ago, a group of environmental students came to notice that Canadian winters had changed. There was less ice, warmer temperatures. What was worse, it affected the skating rinks, which are about as sacred in Canada as football pitches are in Brazil. According to a study by Montreal scientists, there would be fewer days where skating was possible. Some regions, they said, would end up with no rinks at all. Continue Reading…

Nature, Northern America

The supervolcano

Lorcel

Yellowstone National Park is a geological masterpiece of hot springs and active geysers, but beneath lies a sleeping giant. 

 

When transfixed by the geothermal features of Yellowstone National Park, it is easy to forget what powers it all. The sights can be so beautiful they are spellbinding: the spectacular hot springs, the geysers, the lava formations, the fumaroles; not to mention the wildlife of grizzly bears, wolves and bison; the scenic landscape of wild forests, majestic waterfalls and large canyons. Continue Reading…

City guides, Northern America

Green city guide: San Francisco

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San Francisco is not quite like other cities. The mid-1800s gold rush transformed what was a small settlement into a booming city; then, a century later in the post-war period, an influx of liberal activists made it the home of American counter-culture, as epitomised by the 1967 Summer of Love. Beyond the Golden Gate Bridge today, a diverse and energetic society is setting its own agenda. Gay rights, feminist views and political liberals have grown strong roots, as have immigrants from every corner of the world. To call it ‘cosmopolitan’ would be an understatement. Continue Reading…

Northern America

Catching the Wave

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In one of America’s great wilderness areas, a stream of smooth, curvy outlines are etched into the mountainside. They call it the Wave.

 

The US has always been spoilt with mesmerising rock canyons, but none of them are quite like this one. Just north of the famous Grand Canyon, near the border between Arizona and Utah, wavy lines have been carved into rock by the passage of time. It looks like some kind of caramel swirl: the way it contains several colours; the way it tweaks its way around bends and corners. Continue Reading…