CLARKE, Miles




PRIOR TO HER ILLICIT LOVE AFFAIR with Miles Smeeton, a six-foot seven Bengal Lancer, the indefatigable Beryl Boxer walked overland across China and Tibet, choosing to travel alone, in 1937. "The unquenchable spirit of Beryl Smeeton," British adventurer Sir Francis Chichester later wrote, "... is granted to only a few in any century." After marrying Smeeton, she set off on a Himalayan expedition in the Hindu Kush, befriending sherpa Tenzing Norkay and climbing to 23,000 ft., setting the altitude record for women. She rode 1,000 miles through the Patagonian Andes, drove 10,000 miles across North Africa, walked 500 miles through the jungles of Burma and Siam, rode the Trans-Siberian Railway and drove clockwise around North America The only food she ever declined was the eye of a roast sheep. At the close of World War II the Smeetons purchased 450 acres on Saltspring Island site unseen and homesteaded in B.C. for nine years. At Musgrave's Landing on Saltspring they raised their daughter, Clio, who currently lives on Vancouver Island. In 1955, with no sailing experience, the Smeetons then purchased a seagoing yacht, Tzu Hang, and began travelling 130,000 miles in the next 15 years, preferring to travel without a radio or life raft. In 1969 Beryl became the first woman to round Cape Horn in a yacht under 50 feet. Beryl Smeeton spent her final years breeding endangered animals, becoming singularly responsible for the program that re-introduced the Swift Fox to the Prairies from the couple's SOD-acre game farm near Cochrane, Alberta. Beryl and Miles Smeeton's adventures were recorded in Miles' many books. Their joint biographies have now been written by his godson Miles Clark in High Endeavours: The Extraordinary Life and Adventures of Miles and Beryl Smeeton (Western Producer Prairie Books $29.95).

[BCBW 1991] “History”