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Courtenay man plans South America trek
By Aaron Bichard
Staff Writer

The Comox Valley Record, June 18, 2003

Travelling 18,000 kilometres, by any definition, is one heck of a journey. But doing it on a bicycle, along paths leading through mysterious jungles and bleak deserts, alone and exposed - well, that's an adventure.

That's exactly what 26-year-old Courtenay resident Ryan Parton is looking for, and he plans to find his adventure in South America.

Next January, Parton will depart to Tierra del Fuego, an island at the southern tip of South America. He will begin cycling in Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world, and embark on what he calls a journey of adventure and self-discovery to the northern tip of the continent.

S"Sometimes I find myself thinking about it too much," Parton said of his upcoming journey. I don't know if I can do it. But I am doing it. I will do it."

On a trip of this size, which Parton expects will take a year, doubts are not unusual. But his good-natured attitude and faith that everything will be alright gives him the confidence he needs.

Iv"I've never had a bad experience when I've been travelling. I've never felt threatened," he said.

Parton will visit nine countries on his way north and go through many different landscapes and climates. He hopes that the kindness of strangers will help him through any trouble he might encounter. He has researched as much as possible, and while there are still some unknowns, his itinerary allows for adjustments. I "I have a plan, but it is flexible," he said. I "I have my route mapped out, but if when I get there, I'm old of a better route, or a place I just have to see, I'll change my plans. That's part of the adventure."

Parton has done solo cycling trips in Belize and El Salvador and isn't worried about travelling by himself.

"There are so many people who are afraid of doing anything on their own," he said. "But you are just so free. It's a good way to travel."

While Parton is busy cycling on his journey - called Atravesando Fronteras, which means crossing borders - he will be sending reports of his progress to the Record and other publications. Parton is a freelance journalist and photographer. One of his stories, about Don Starkell, another Canadian adventurer who paddled from Manitoba to the Amazon and trekked to the North Pole, appeared in Paddler magazine.

Right now, Parton is busy saving money and looking for sponsors to help him on his trip. To learn more about Atravesando Fronteras, visit Parton's web site at