Explorers Of the Infinite
by Maria Coffey
Winner of the 2009 American Alpine Club Literary Award
Oprah Interviews Maria!
Check out their conversation about Explorers of the Infinite on Oprah’s Soul Series here.
What compels extreme adventurers to push at the boundaries of human ability ? And what do they discover on the other side? EXPLORERS OF THE INFINITE unveils some astonishing answers to these questions. In interviews with Maria, extreme mountaineers, snowboarders, kayakers, surfers, base-jumpers and other athletes reveal extraordinary spiritual transformations and paranormal experiences. Ranging from fleeting mystical moments to precognition, psychic communication and encounters with ghosts, these experiences, Maria argues, are a key part of what drives such adventurers. Reviewing cutting-edge scientific research, and the history of philosophy and spirituality, she sets out to discover if the intense state of aliveness in extreme sports is a route to transcendence and paranormal powers.
Praise for Explorers of the Infinite:
[Maria Coffey’s] interviews with athletes and scientists yield fascinating thoughts about how risk takers experience pain and how terror can be a passport to bliss. Kathleen Medwick, O Magazine
Coffey is a gifted writer and in no other book that she has published have those gifts come together so acutely, intelligently and thoughtfully. Ross Crockford, Monday Magazine
No other writer since Jon Krakauer has dared to tackle the taboos, sacred cows and obsessions of extreme adventurers the way Maria Coffey does..Explorers of the Infinite takes you on the ultimate quest into the heart of the dragons den. Jeff Long, author of The Descent
Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow
Through gripping stories and heartbreaking interviews with climbers and their families, Maria Coffey reveals the personal cost of high altitude adventures. A compelling read!
“Mountaineering enthusiasts of all varieties (from hands-on adventurers to armchair climbers) will see another side of their favorite sport in this poignant book. …. It’s a deeply moving perspective, and (Coffey) approaches the subject with a grace and delicacy that are entirely appropriate..”
– David Pitt, Booklist .
“Coffey’s interviews brim with rugged honesty…… her book’s combination of memoir and psychological overview is unique.”
– Publishers Weekly
“This haunting book is the first of its kind in mountaineering literature. No longer will we be able to ignore the cost of climbing to our familes and loved ones”
– Jim Wickwire, legendary mountaineer and coauthor of Addicted to Danger.
by Maria Coffey
This is the story of Maria’s relationship with the world-class mountaineer Joe Tasker, and her coming to terms with his death on the Northeast Ridge of Everest. She relives her experiences, first within the hard-partying mountaineer scene and then during her long journey to understanding and acceptance of the tragedy that cost her the man she loved. She gives an insider’s view of the life of an extreme mountaineer and recounts her deeply moving pilgrimage after his death, across Tibet and up 21,000 feet to Advance Base Camp on the north side of the mountain.
The book is the clear-eyed account of a difficult love affair and a vivid chronicle of a symbolic journey that was by turns painful, magical and healing.
“A vivid, insightful book about Everest’s real victims – the loved ones of the climbers who don’t make it back.”
– David Breashears, co-director of the IMAX film “Everest”.
“Such clarity and honesty are seldom seen in mountain writing.”
– Greg Child, mountaineer and author of “Over the Edge”.
Visions of the Wild
by Maria Coffey and Dag Goering
In the summer of 1999, Dag Goering and Maria Coffey set off on an audacious adventure: to circumnavigate Vancouver Island by kayak, along some of North America’s most storm battered coastlines. This ten-week, 1200 km voyage stretched the limits of their skill and endurance.
Paddling up to 50 kilometres per day, they dodged the tide rips and whirlpools of Johnstone Strait, battled around tumultuous Cape Scott and faced monstrous waves on the Bajo Reefs. In a small boat on the vast Pacific, they were constantly aware that the ocean offers little margin for error, and that one mistake could cost them their lives. But there were rewards to taking such risks: unforgettable encounters with whales, wolves and bears; new friends made in First Nations villages, old homesteads and historic fishing ports; and an ever-changing kaleidoscope of spectacular coastal vistas.
With breathtaking colour photographs and compelling journal entries written from a unique male/female perspective, VISIONS OF THE WILD is an inspiring chronicle of the adventure of a lifetime, and a visual celebration of the untamed spirit of Canada’s west coast. It is a “must read” for kayakers, seafarers, armchair adventurers, and all lovers of wild places.
A Lambing Season in Ireland
In the winter of 1998, Maria Coffey and her veterinarian husband Dag Goering left Canada to spend February to May in County Kerry, on the West Coast of Ireland. Dag, who would be helping the local vet in Cahersiveen during the busy lambing and calving season, was filled with excitement. But Maria was anxious about the move – she has an Irish background and for her this was a return to the past, a meeting with old ghosts.
In A Lambing Season in Ireland she recounts how her initial attack of ‘cold feet’ turned to courtship and finally blossomed into a full-blown love affair with the Iveragh Peninsula and its people. She writes beautifully about the rugged landscape, her adventures as ‘the Canadian vet’s wife’ and how her pet lamb, Dora, helped her make the transition from being a ‘blow-in’ to a local.
This humorous and often moving tale is one to be savoured, as Maria and Dag bump across the landscape to various farms, pubs and fairs on the their tiny, adoptive part of rural Ireland.
“I’m thankful to BC’s Maria Coffey for A Lambing Season in Ireland. She captures the essence of the place in describing the details of everyday life…She intersperses myths and politics in the way they really matter, on a personal and local level. So it is a very genuine book, and such books don’t come along very often.”
– Toronto Star, May 2000
Sailing Back in Time
by Maria Coffey and Dag Goering
“The islands stretch away as far as the eye can see, fading to a translucent grey-green against the horizon… In the dimming light, China Cloud is like a fairy-tale craft with her big moth wings, smoke curling from her stove pipe, and a white-haired couple at the tiller, singing old songs.”
In May 1995, renowned travel writer Maria Coffey and her husband, photographer Dag Goering, began a three-month journey by wooden boat along Canada’s spectacular western shores. Leading the way were legendary boat builders and sailors Allen and Sharie Farrell, on their last voyage aboard China Cloud. Powered only by sail and sculling oar, they took Coffey and Goering to their old haunts along the coast, places where they homesteaded, fished and built boats. And they shared with them their remarkably simple lifestyle, closely connected to the sea and the land.
Years rolled away during this nostalgic voyage, as the Farrells recounted decades of memories with passion, insight and humor. Sailing Back In Time weaves the fascinating account of a unique voyage with an intimate look at eighty years of coastal history, as seen through the eyes of these two remarkable people.
From the quiet waters of the Gulf Islands to the snowcapped mountains of Desolation Sound, the majestic scenery of the coast provides the backdrop for an unforgettable adventure. This panoramic trip comes to life with Dag Goering’s lush photographs, while Allen Farrell’s boat sketches and beautifully textured oil paintings reveal a bygone era.
“…a highly readable and enjoyable story of two genuine BC coast enthusiasts who not only tell a good tale, but have lived it!”
– Jim Spilsbury, author and West Coast legend.
Three Moons In Vietnam
A Haphazard Journey by Boat and Bicycle
by Maria Coffey, photography by Dag Goering
Three full moons rose over Vietnam while Maria Coffey and her husband Dag explored the country’s spectacular coast from the great Mekong Delta in the south to Halong Bay in the north. Determined to see the ‘real’ Vietnam, they traveled aboard leaky fishing boats, in tiny sampans and coracles, on rickety bicycles and battered buses.
Straying far off the tourist routes, they were dogged by petty officials, hid in small boats to avoid arrest, and encountered wandering spirits and snakes in bottles. Their tough, exhilarating journey carried them through a country in flux between doctrinaire socialism and a free market economy, where ancient traditions continue alongside terrible memories of the ‘American War’ and where people survive with dignity and humor.
Coffey chronicles this haphazard adventure in a frank, engaging and often hilarious style. She movingly portrays an unexpected encounter of the heart, and the forming of an emotional bond which will last for many moons to come.
“A faithful and lively account…a must for anyone contemplating a visit to Vietnam”
– Yorkshire Post
A Boat in our Baggage
As globe-trotting transport, it may have seemed like a curious choice: a folding kayak, seaworthy but not exactly luxurious, which could be dismantled and stored in a canvas bag.
But in the course of their travels, the kayak would serve Maria Coffey and her husband Dag Goering well, as they transported it by everything from jumbo jet to buffalo cart, and paddled it thousands of miles into remote corners of the world.
In shark-infested waters around the Solomon Islands, negotiating bandits and floating bodies along the River Ganges, or dodging irate hippos and government spies on Lake Malawi, this is travel writing at its most intrepid.
“With superb photographs, this is an adventure story that will leave you up the creek – this time with a paddle!”
by Maria Coffey with Deborah Pearson, photography by Dag Goering
Embark on an unforgettable adventure as you join Maria Coffey and Dag Goering on their trip through the Solomons, lush tropical islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Step into their kayak and paddle to remote villages where outsiders haven’t been seen for years, and visit the Skull Island burial ground. Spend time on shore as Maria and Dag explore a South Seas jungle, sleep in traditional leaf huts and confront a ferocious crocodile.
Short side-bars of information that accompany their story reveal: what it’s like to visit a coral reef ‘garden’; where the bathrooms are in the jungle; what kids love about life in the Solomons, and much more. Colourful maps (essential travelers’ tools!) help you follow Maria and Dag’s route, chapter by chapter!
A Cat in a Kayak
by Maria Coffey, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
The tale of Teelo the cat who stows away in a kayak, and ends up getting more adventure than he bargained for!
A Seal in the Family
Teelo’s adventures continue: his peaceful life on Cloud Island is disrupted when he finds an abandoned seal pup on the beach.
A Cat Adrift
by Maria Coffey, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Teelo goes on the biggest adventure of his life when he is washed out to sea and rescued by a passing sailboat.
Hidden Places founders, Maria Coffey and Dag Goering are an award-winning writer-photographer team with 12 internationally published books to their credit.
Their books are available through local bookstores or on Amazon.com
Adventure Travel has been our specialty since 1991 when we started to explore the world’s most spectacular places as photographers and writers. Several years (and several books) later we began sharing our experiences with others by developing and leading adventure tours. We founded Hidden Places Travel in 2000 and quickly became renowned for our unique, off-the-beaten-track itineraries. Our support of local communities and conservation projects gives our trips unprecedented access and our loyal following of repeat guests is a testament to our professionalism and nurturing approach.
We invite you to join us on one of our life-changing adventures.
A unique and wonderful experience: Great setting, great food, great crowd, great ambience. May there be many more hidden places to explore with such fine people. Many thanks.
"This trip was spectacular! The itinerary exposed us to beautiful sections of Namibia, and a wonderful variety of activities. The accommodations were luxurious and set in natural, conservation-oriented settings. Each lodge had distinct experiences to offer, with wonderful nature guides. Our time hiking and riding jeeps in the bush, seeing the Skeleton Coast from a small plane, kayaking on a lagoon, quietly watching wildlife at a water hole for hours, seeing the African sunsets and stars for the first time, and exploring brilliant red sand dunes---was transformative. This was truly the trip of a lifetime! Thank you! "
My second trip with you was just as fabulous as the first. You prepare so thoughtfully and everything is executed with such apparent ease. You are imaginative, generous and kind, and it is heart warming to be around you. I’ll travel with Hidden Places again!
The hidden gem in the journey was the great care and attention to detail by Hidden Places. Your compassion and sensitivity to guests is first class.
You are true professionals in what you do. I already am looking forward to our next Hidden Places adventure.
"This trip literally changed my life. It was an emotional experience which left me at peace and full of gratitude."
You have such special skills – putting together the trip and then making it happen so beautifully. All that thought and care has made our holiday really special… a fantastic experience.
Thank you for an awesome adventure in Greece. Your trips are always very special and I feel so lucky to be with you and all the guests.
My wife and I have enjoyed 4 fantastic trips with Hidden Places over the last 5 years - 3 of them led by Maria and Dag, whose skills, personalities and innate understanding of how to make every moment special is truly remarkable.
Once again you’ve brought together extraordinary people and a magical place… and made every detail easy and fun.
Another wonderful trip filled with laughter and joy. You always create an amazing experience. The boat and crew were wonderful, catering to all our needs. I can’t wait for the next adventure!
"Once again, Hidden Places has given their Galapagos guests a memorable traveling experience, filled with an appreciation for the wonders and beauty of our planet as well as a great learning experience . "
Thank you for finding the ‘hidden places’ in each town… all of them were the result of your incredible attention to detail and your passion for bringing new experiences to others.
"Where do you start after a perfect trip? We did and saw more than our wildest dreams, with amazing scenery at every turn. The lodges chosen by Hidden Places made us wish we had a free day at each one, they were all amazing, so unique and so welcoming."
This trip exceeded our expectations as all Hidden Places trips do!
We can't think of a better way to immerse yourself into this rich and vibrant country than traveling with Hidden Places. Maria and Dag have the adventure travel thing nailed down perfectly. We can't wait for our next adventure with them.
The best birthday in years! Thank you for another special adventure.
Hidden Places really takes care of its ‘family’ (we never feel like clients). The boat and crew, the hotel and staff – all top of the line. Thank you for one of the most incredible experiences of my life!