Disappearing Destinations

Oftentimes, the journey is the ultimate goal. But with these seven regions in transition, the story is in the hot spots themselves

Why now
The park, which encompasses 443 square miles from the top of Mount Everest to the valleys to its south, has become increasingly pocked with glacial lakes that pose a flooding threat to the villages below. As glaciers melt, they shed the layers of rocks and sediment that were trapped inside the ice, and the debris forms natural dams. Meltwater collects behind the unstable moraines until the pressure collapses the walls, unleashing powerful floods of water, boulders, and mud. Scientists have predicted that 20 of Nepal’s glacial lakes are filling so quickly they could breach their walls by 2009. If an earthquake strikes the Himalayas, dozens could burst at once.

How to go
KarmaQuest (karmaquests .com) treks include a visit to the national park visitor center for a primer on responsible trekking from the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, the region’s conservation group.

When to go 
Spring and fall are good times to visit. Travel with KarmaQuest in October and you’ll get to see the colorful Mani-Rimdu festival at Tyangboche.

Armchair advocacy

Donating to the World Wildlife Fund (panda.org) supports the Climate Change Program, which was founded in 2003 to address the economic, social, political, and environmental impacts of global warming in the eastern Himalayan region.

Landmark in retreat

Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay launched their Everest summit from the edge of the Khumbu glacier. To reach the glacier today, you’ll have to walk two hours from their 1953 base camp.

Napa Valley, California

Why now
Climatologists predict that rising temperatures could alter the growing conditions that have long been key to Napa’s famed wine. Grapes are fickle fruits: They require hot days and cool nights throughout the growing season. Napa’s 63°F average is already on the warm end, where varietals like Syrah and Merlot thrive. Any hotter and you’re in raisin country. If the current climate trajectory continues, Northern California will warm 2–3°F in the next 50 years. That’s more than enough to affect grape quality.

How to go
Stay at the eco-friendly Solage Calistoga (solagecalistoga.com) resort and spa, where room service is delivered by bike, the produce is local and organic, and natural hot springs provide radiant heating for the spa treatment rooms. Explore the vineyards on two wheels instead of four with Napa Valley Bike Tours (caladventures.com/napavalleybiketours.htm).

When to go
Visit in the spring or fall, when the vineyards are bursting with color, the weather is mild, and tasting rooms are the least crowded.  

Armchair advocacy
Support venues like Robert Sinskey Vineyards (robertsinskey.com), an organic winery that gets most of its electricity from solar panels and runs its vehicles on biodiesel. “If we can make people in the wine industry understand that you can make a better wine being environmentally sound,” says vintner Robert Sinskey, “then perhaps we can get some of these educated people to respect the planet a little more in their daily practices.”

Napa lore
The 1973 Chardonnay by Napa’s Chateau Montelena Winery (montelena.com) won a 1976 blind tasting competition in Paris that ended the era of France’s uncontested winemaking dominance. The winery is housed in a hillside stone castle at the foot of Mount St Helena. Someday the building might be a relic of the “old” wine country. 

Inside Passage, British Columbia 

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Issue 25

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