My canoe surges through the water, spray flying off its bow, as it careens through a series of standing waves. I let out a whoop of joy as I glide over a sea of coloured stones shimmering in the translucent shallow waters of the Wind River. A great arc of limestone peaks frame a jagged skyline that soars at least a thousand metres above the valley floor. And in the midst of it all a golden eagle circles, a distant speck against a deep blue sky.

I’m on a two-week river journey into the Peel Watershed, North America’s largest constellation of wild mountain rivers, tucked in the north-east corner ...


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