I always dread the words “I have some bad news.” Earlier this week they came in an email linking me to a newspaper story about the tragic death of one of my favorite young adventure models, Peter Thompson. After paddling over a modest waterfall he had descended several times in the past, he didn’t resurface.
Although I didn’t know Peter well, I worked with him in 2007, 2008 and 2009 during adventure photo seminars I taught in Canada’s Banff National Park. I often think of him and keep seeing him in action whenever I’m looking for pictures of paddling or cycling.
As might be expected in a place like Banff, all of our models were talented, but Peter was a stroke beyond. At the time he was just in his early teens and I had never before seen someone his age so gifted at both kayaking and mountain biking. More striking, though, was his poise and unaffected ease with people and his boundless energy helping seminar participants get action pictures that were better than any they had taken before. That is a rare trait in young stars.
Like all too many of my other companions who have been struck down while doing things they love, Peter was on a skyward trajectory. The whole adventure community has suffered a loss of what he might otherwise have done and shown the world. My heart especially goes out to his family, his friends and all of the youngsters he inspired in his recent work as a kayaking coach.