The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Oct 2012

Fatbike Expedition Comes to a Quiet Halt

Andrew Badenoch raised nearly $10,500 via Kickstarter to fund his zero-fuel Arctic adventure, but he abandoned his trip and left his backers in the dark.

77zero_portraits-026-6402 Andrew Badenoch. Photo: Joe Bell

Back in February, I wrote about Andrew Badenoch, an ambitious Portlander who had just raised nearly $10,500, via Kickstarter, to fund a solo fatbike and packraft trip from Bellingham, Washington, to the southern coast of the Arctic Ocean and back—a staggering, 7,000-mile journey. All this was despite the fact that Badenoch had no appropriate expedition experience. What he did have was a snazzy website, a compelling pitch video on Kickstarter, and a lot of ambition. I called that story "The Curious Case of Andrew Badenoch."

Since then, the story has gotten more and more curious. Due to logistical challenges, he launched his expedition many weeks after his target departure. He made it up to a small town in north central British Columbia, roughly 830 miles from Bellingham. He holed up there for at least a couple of weeks, apparently trying to arrange for food and gear deliveries, but then turned back south sometime in mid-August, it appears. I do not have exact dates or specific details of his trip because Badenoch has never provided them to me, or to his 212 Kickstarter backers.

In fact, his Kickstarter backers have not heard from him since May 3.

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Filming the World From a Bird's Eye View

GannetsWIngedPlanetGannets. Photo: Winged Planet

When filmmaker John Downer was in elementary school, he got down in the dirt of his parents' garden so that he could film the insects, frogs, and toads using a Super 8 camera. “I think that kind of, as I look back now, inspired my way of filming,” says the 59-year-old director. “Which is to try and get in the animal world.”

He studied zoology in college and then went to work in radio for the BBC before landing a job making TV shows for children. One of those shows involved filming life in a garden with miniaturized cameras that he built. “That was the first time I ever married advancements in technology with the capturing of images,” says Downer.

From there he got a job on the nation’s top-rated animal show, “Wildlife on One.” After making a show about snakes, he moved on to birds. He raised a duck from birth so that it imprinted to him as a parent, and a year later filmed it while flying in a parascender—a parachute pulled by a vehicle. He also stripped a Super 8 camera down to a lens, a film cartridge, a motor, and a battery so that he could put it on the back of a buzzard. The bird flew, and he got some grainy footage. “That was an inspiration,” he says.

But he knew inspiration wasn’t going to cut it for the film he ultimately wanted to make. He imagined capturing a bird's eye view of the world from multiple species. To do that, he needed to wait for smaller and more sophisticated technology. Twenty-five years later, he used drones, POV cams, and ultralights to film the new Discovery Channel show “Winged Planet” (October 6, 8 P.M. EST). I called him up to find out more about the making of the two-hour-long special.

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