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SW E L L W O M E N L U X E S U R F & Y O G A R E T R E AT I N 2 0 1 6 +




Misadventures Issue 0 Winter 2015


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The Misadventures Guide to Surviving Winter A compendium of life-saving, time-sucking, and/or otherwise useful winter how-tos to get you through the darkest months.

53 Holiday Gift Guide

We’ve got whosits and whatsits, niceties and necessities, for all the chefs, explorers, storytellers, makers, travelers, and dreamers in your life. By ELIZABETH WELLINGTON & SYDNEY THOMASHOW

59 Cabin Fever

Some days you just can’t go outside. Some days you’re trapped. On those days, it’s best to take stock, re-evaluate, and read a book for once. Here are our suggestions for your wintry perusal of fiction, film, and T.V. By JESSICA C. MALORDY


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CREDIT Photograph of Pia Nic Gundersen courtesy of Arc'teryx

FEATURES Burning All The Fuses At Once

Professional freeskier Pia Nic Gundersen is making a comeback—and she’s got the pictures to prove it. At the end of this interview, you just might drop everything, leave a quick note, and move to Norway. Consider yourself warned. By ZOË BALACONIS



11 Reading Her Diary

Songwriter Greta Kline aka Ingrid Superstar aka Frankie Cosmos answers our questions. EXP L O R ING WO M EN

Conversation with 19 AAshleigh Banfield The CNN journalist on making her own way before she made it big.

Majka Burhardt, On Ice



Climber, author, and journalist Majka Burhardt shares the first time she felt fear on the mountain.



Winter fashion is all about athleisure: on the slopes, in the city, while lounging in the woods. Life has layers. So should your outfits. Mix, match, and mix again.

The Women of Mount Rainier On a clear day, Mount Rainier is the Pacific Northwest’s most striking, iconic mountain. The women who guide others to its peak deserve to be just as visible. By CHARLOTTE AUSTIN



From A French 66 Fieldnotes Shepherdess’ Kitchen Une omelette to write home about. B EH O L D

Tastes 16 Candyman Copenhagen

The first in an ongoing, hard-hitting series on international sweet stuff. File under: things you need to know.

True Blue

“Lucky us: We are residents of Earth, the sweetest place in the universe, at this, the sweetest time.” In which scientist, diver, and conservation advocate Dr. Sylvia Earle explains why humans are the planet’s worst nightmare, but also its best hope. By JESSICA REESE


44 Karaoke Girls

She moved to Palau expecting tropical paradise. What she found was more complicated. By ANNA VODICKA


This music fest in North Devon, England is what you always wished summer camp could be. Put it on next year’s calendar.



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Sleeping in all my clothing with hand warmers inside my sleeping bag, while it snowed on me at the North Pole. – Christine Dennison


A tree house in the south of France with a chicken coop. – Jessie Blount



CONTRIBUTORS: Charlotte Austin, Matthew Van Biene, Jessie Blount, Christine Dennison, Mia Flanagan, Mikaela Hamilton, Alejandro Poveda, Jessica Reese, Sydney Thomashow, Anna Vodicka, Elizabeth Wellington INTERNS: Ellyn Gibbs, Dana Guth With Help From: Sarah Connette, Alanna Ford, Jon Springfield, Laura Zulliger MY D R E A M C A B I N

Snowed in, filled with smart people having stupid conversations. – Mia Flanagan

C O L D E ST I ’ V E E V E R B E E N

Ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier in February! My peanut butter froze into a solid blob and I couldn’t feel my hands for two days, but the climbing was amazing. – Charlotte Austin MY D R E A M C A B I N

All alone, on a prairie, in a valley, by the sea. – Julienne Alexander


I only care about nice natural light inside… as long as I have it, ALL good, all dreamy! – Alejandro Poveda ILLUSTRATIONS by Julienne Alexander


Julienne Alexander

C O L D E ST I ’ V E E V E R B E E N

Camping through Patagonia with a summer-weight sleeping bag (the sales guy tried to talk me out of it, but I was 23, had never camped, and insisted on the $25 clearance model). – Anna Vodicka

Marybeth Campeau SENIOR EDITOR

Cozy, warm, wrapped in wool. – Elizabeth Wellington

C O L D E ST I ’ V E E V E R B E E N


Jessica C. Malordy


Like probably every Chicagoan, I’ve had to wait for the train while running a fever during the darkest middle of winter—the combination of fever chills and negative million-degree weather rearranged my soul. – Jessica Reese

Zoë Balaconis

C O L D E ST I ’ V E E V E R B E E N

Buried to my neck during a mock avalanche rescue. – Matthew Van Biene

With Thanks To: Lila Allen, Jamie Anderson, The Awesome Foundation, Eddie Brawner, Kathy Bray, Hannah Brotherton, Lindsay Brownell, Anne Burley, Cher, Chris Catanese, Suzanne Churchill, Tiffiny Costello, Davidson College, Catherine DiSanto, Maria Fackler, Kaela Frank, Shane Gibson, Franny Goffinet, Tory Hayssen, Carolyn Highland, Tim Houston, Devon Jayne Hughes, Hallie Hutchinson, Sarah Jordan, Sara Bates King, Zoran Kuzmanovich, Rachel Leeds, Hannah Levinson, Grace Mitchell, Sara Kay Mooney, Tim Morin, Walter Olin Nisbet III, Marian Nisbet, Walter Olin “Chip” Nisbet IV, William McGowan Nisbet, Caroline Parke, Alan Michael Parker, Jeanine Pesce, Pistol PR, Sarah Reijonen, Kate Reutersward, Sally Ride, Allison Dulin Salisbury, Peter Scorcia, Rebecca Sgouros, Matt Stirn, Annie Temmink, Jessie Tuckman, Carol Quillen, Ross Saldarini, Katie Voegtli, Emmett Weindruch, Cathryn Westra, Mark Williams. Moms everywhere. Dads too. Advertising and press inquiries: misadventuresmag@gmail.com Cover Photo by: JEFF SHELDON Back Photo by: MIKAELA HAMILTON Moon Phases: RAVEN YU



EDITORS’ LETTER HE FIRST TIME we got trolled on the Internet it was someone helpfully telling us that a “misadventure” was a bad thing. And we quote: I was looking up the word misadventures when I saw your webpage/magazine, just thought you should know that your name means “unfortunate incident, a mishap or a bad experience.” Just pretty sure that is not what you were going for. Thank you, Eugene King. We had no idea. Before we thought of the name, all we had was a void. Between the cliff of women’s magazines and the next hold of outdoors magazines was a gap where we knew adventurous and pioneering women deserved to be. Where were they represented? We couldn’t find them, so we decided to make them—or, more accurately, we decided to stand next to that big hole pointing and yelling so that incredibly talented writers, photographers, illustrators, and explorers could fill it up. Like all little girls, I dreamed of branding meetings. I’d be sitting with my cigar-smoking creative team around a sleek conference table in a room paneled with white boards, riffing. No bad ideas. In reality, we sat on the floor, writing in a grubby notebook. Misadventures—okay, will people think only of the bad connotation? Probably. Okay, but if they


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do, is that a bad thing? What does it make you think of? Something that happened along the way, during some journey that was unexpected, a hiccup, a misstep, or even mishap. The more we thought about it, the more perfect it seemed (it was late, you should know; we were convincing ourselves) because what trip doesn’t have its unexpected moments? In Outdoor Ed, they call this Type 2 Fun. Type 2 Fun means that, at the time, you’re scared, or challenged, or sweating, or tired, or hustling, but when you look back at that moment, it was the

Adventure is nothing without the mishighlight of the whole experience. It retrospect, it was great. You never felt more alive. It made you. Who wants a perfectly planned anything? And even if you do, what are the chances that’s actually going to happen? Misadventures is about the misses, the adventures, and the misadventures that make up all the best stories—the ones that have scars as proof, the ones you share around a fire or in the hull of a sinking ship. Those are the stories worth telling, and retelling, because they’re made of the stuff of

living. That mortal coil. Adventure is nothing without the mis-. The name Misadventures started as a pun, then became a joke, then a real possibility that we pretended was a joke when we told other people, then a website, then a magazine, and now is something else we never hoped for: a space where women can see themselves reflected back not as hot bods or token experts or endearing anomalies, but as the wild, curious, unapologetic people they are. We are flabbergasted and thrilled that Misadventures has grown into a community, connecting all the base camps, coffee shops, tent flies, windy peaks, and subterranean spaces of the world—one that’s here in case you need reminding that you’re not alone. You are reading the debut print issue of Misadventures. For that, we thank you. We thank our contributors, our supporters, our subscribers, Davidson College, The Awesome Foundation, and everyone who bought our tank top in the winter (that’s some fine marketing!). You've gone out on a limb with us—but I think we already knew you’d like it out here. Yours in misadventure, Zoë Balaconis


Marybeth Campeau Art Director

Jessica C. Malordy Senior Editor



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Reading Her Diary

Frankie Cosmos answers our questions By ZOË BALACONIS IF YOU’VE been following the musical trajectory of Greta Kline, aka Frankie Cosmos, you know that her music, which perhaps can be described as anti-folkindie-twee-90s-chill-grunge-surf-rock, is confessional without being embarrassing. She’s said herself that before she put out her popular debut album Zentropy, her music was like her diary: for her ears only. From the teen-nostalgic “Art School,” to the self-aware introvert’s anthem “Birthday Song,” the songs have the tenor of growing up—but don’t confuse that with a lack of confidence. The album is good like wandering around the

BUY her 7” EP, Sand: hyperurl.co/FrankieEP

neighborhood with your friends is good. You can’t remember exactly what you talked about, but you miss the feeling of having nowhere in particular to go. Her new album Fit Me In comes out November 2015. What do you love about playing music— alone and with other people? I love writing music because it can be like working on a math problem — just trying different ideas until it works itself out. I like how music can be slightly out of the musician’s control. It’s this huge other being, and when you play with

CREDIT Photo courtesy of Greta Kline.


DISCOVER other people it’s so hard to explain, but it just connects you all in a really amazing way. What instrument do you wish you could play better? I love playing guitar, bass, piano, drums. I wish I were better at all of them! Who are your inspirations? Your musical predecessors? Influences? Crushes? Idols? Style-setters? Michael Hurley, Joanna Newsom, Beat Happening, Connie Converse, DC Schneider, Old Table, Whatever Dad, No One And The Somebodies, Juan Wauters, Krill, Deerhoof, Arthur Russell, Daniel Johnston, Liz Phair, Eskimeaux, Aaron Maine. What was the best show you ever played? I pretty much am critical of every show I play. So NONE OF THEM! I love playing new songs for my parents at home. Those are the best “shows.” What’s your favorite song you’ve written? Hard to choose! I usually just like whatever song I’m working on the best. But of the stuff we’ve been playing—“On The Lips.” I love having Gabby sing the harmonies. What’s an early memory you keep going back to? Becoming friends with Eliza Doyle and starting a band in secret with her in 6th grade! She taught me a lot about music, and is still one of my best friends. How do you define adventure? Where did that come from? Sometimes adventure is trying something new or brave, but sometimes it’s just going back to the same places you love. I think adventure is also just getting out of the house. What is your dream voyage? Where would you go if you could go anywhere? Right now, I want to go to Germany to visit my friends Leonie, Joana, and Peter, and their whole family. The last time I saw them was over a year ago, when we toured together and spent like 20 days in a row hanging out every second. What’s next for you and Frankie Cosmos? Working on new albums, touring. Trying to stay in school? Playing with PORCHES. Touring in the fall with All Dogs! Dawn or dusk? Dawn, if I’m awake. But usually dusk.


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DISCOVER Get the first single off her EP Sand and tour dates on pitchfork.com.









K NOT B RARY: RIN G BE N D Want to turn two ropes into one? You don’t need magic; you just need some top-notch knot-skills. If you’re an ice-climber, you can probably do this one in your sleep. If you’re not, it’s still a good one to have in your back pocket, and it’s easy—just an overhand knot followed through.

ESK I MO S N OW GO G G L E S These things are an important part of wilderness survival in the far north. Snow blindness is serious business, and these goggles were invented by the people of northern Canada and Alaska to avoid it. They are easy to make, and effective. YOU WILL NEED

• a knife • some bark, preferably birch


1. Find a piece of birch bark 6-8 inches long and 4-6 inches wide, and cut it into a rough rectangle shape.

K ITCHEN CHAIR S LEI GH Impress your friends and enemies with this simple nineteenth-century sledding contraption.

2. Roughly measure the distance

between the centers of your eyes.

3. Use your knife to mark these points on

the smooth side of the bark. Cut slits horizontally across these measurements that are at most ¼ inch tall and about an inch long. The smaller the slits, the better.

4. Near the bottom of the rectangle,

cut out a triangle shape so that the goggles can rest on your nose and the slits line up with your eyes.

YOU WILL NEED • • • • • •

a crowbar an old wooden barrel a kitchen chair you can wreck two small pieces of board four L-shaped blocks of wood a hammer and nails

1. Using the crowbar, detach two staves from the barrel. Discard the barrel.

2. Nail two pieces of board perpendicu-

6. The bend of the bark should wrap the

3. Fit a kitchen chair on top of the


1. Find a 9’x9’ clearing. Pro tip: if you

goggles naturally around your head, but you can also use your hat to keep them in place. We hope you have a hat.

This skill needs little introduction. We will say that it becomes a lot easier the deeper and dryer the snow, the sharper your large knife or saw, the better your shovel or spade, and the stronger your general fortitude. YOU WILL NEED

• a knife or saw • a shovel or spade • some snow


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Directions adapted from and quote excerpted from The American Boy’s Handy Book, by D.C. Beard, first published in 1883.


5. If you don’t have birch bark, you can use

wood or animal bone, but this is ADVANCED.

“Any boy who is fortunate enough to have a mother or sister who takes sufficient interest, and has the time to accompany him on his skating trips, will find a chair-sleigh quite a handy thing to possess, and when he moves from one part of the ice to a distant portion of the pond or river he can skate behind the sleigh with his hands upon the back of the chair, and push his lady friend rapidly over the ice, adding much to her enjoyment as well as his own.”

larly on top of the two barrel staves.

two pieces of board by nailing on four L-shaped blocks on the cross boards to hold the chair in place.

build your igloo on a slope or near the side of a boulder, you’ll have fewer blocks to make and less work to do.

2. Pick an area outside that space with lots of dry, hard-packed snow. Using your knife or saw, cut down into the snow to create blocks that are about 2’x15”x8”. If your snow isn’t that dense or deep, you can use a plastic container about that size as a mold for the blocks.

3. Smooth the edges of your blocks and place

them in a circle to outline the footprint of your future fort. Continue working your way up stacking blocks, each time decreasing the number, to create a dome. The last block

should be larger than the others to fit snugly into the remaining space. You can use a stick or other support to hold up the middle.

4. Cut a hole in the dome for the entrance. It should be small. You can then dig out a trench underneath to create a crawl tunnel. Pro-tip: if you dig it in an L-shape you’ll keep out the wind.

5. Cover the cracks and holes in the

structure with loose snow, but leave some holes in the walls for ventilation. If you want more space, dig down the floor.

6. Enjoy! If you want to cook or make a fire

inside, keep it low-heat. The space will begin to warm up the longer you’re inside.

ILLUSTRATIONS by Julienne Alexander



B OOM E RAN G BAT H SOAK For the perfect comeback. A rejuvenating bath soak to relax sore muscles, calm ya nerves, and leave skin soft and fragrant from steeping in a bath-sized mug of tea. Designed for the end of a long day of snow-ventures. Double the recipe for two people. YOU WILL NEED • • • • •

S N O - BA N K JU LEP Who says juleps are a summer thing? An out-of-season adaptation because winter is too long. YOU WILL NEED • • • • • •

½ cup whiskey 2 cups sugar ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained ¼ cup fresh mint enough snow to fill a glass condensed milk (optional)


1. In a saucepan over low heat, warm the

whiskey with the sugar and lemon juice (make sure that it doesn’t boil). The goal is to make simple syrup with the booze.

2. Add the fresh mint and remove from

the heat. Let the mint steep in the liquid while it cools to room temperature.

3. Strain the mixture to remove the mint. Celebrate the fact that the syrup will last up to a week in the refrigerator.

4. Fill a glass with a packed snowball. 5. Give a generous pour of the syrup on top of the snowball. Emphasis on generous.

6. If you want to go all out, pour some

condensed milk on top and eat with a spoon.

Freely adapted from Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey, by Colin Spoelman and David Haskell.

2 Tbsp. comfrey leaves 1 Tbsp. lavender 1 Tbsp. evening primrose flowers/rose petals 1 tsp. orange peel, thinly sliced or grated 2 Tbsp. oatmeal


1. Combine herbs and tie up in a small muslin or cheesecloth sack.

2. Place in water under faucet as tub fills. 3. If you want, empty herbs into the bath water once tub is full.

4. Soak it up. Relax. 5. Repeat Step 4 ’til the water gets cold. Adapted from The Homesteading Handbook by Abigail R. Gehring

WI NT ER SKIN R EVIVE R Cold weather can be rough on skin, especially your face and hands. Luckily, there are a lot of potions you can cook up with things you have in your house. Here’s one. YOU WILL NEED

• 3 tsp. almond oil • 1 tsp. honey



For colds, sinus problems, winter malaise, and broken hearts.

1. Combine ingredients in a small jar. 2. Dab on fingers, massage on skin, repeat.

LIP P ROTE CTOR Let this homemade balm act as a shield and helpmate for that delicate skin. YOU WILL NEED • • • • • •

1 tsp. beeswax ½ tsp. honey 2 tsp. almond oil, avocado, or coconut oil ¼ tsp. Vitamin E oil (optional) a dab of aloe vera (optional) 3 drops of lemon or grapefruit essential oil, for scent and flavor


1. Melt the beeswax and honey in a heat-proof jar.

2. Whisk in the almond oil, Vitamin E oil,

citrus essential oil, and a dab of aloe vera.

3. Pour the mixture into a small container and let it cool completely.

4. Apply a layer to lips and brave the elements.


garlic honey hot water whiskey (optional because we’re noticing a pattern) • lemon • Tabasco/hot sauce • apple cider vinegar


1. Chop raw garlic and put in the bottom of a glass/jar/boot.

2. Add two Tbsp. honey and mix. 3. Squeeze half a lemon into the glass. 4. Add two shakes of Tabasco or whatever hot sauce.

5. Add one shot of apple cider vinegar and one shot of whiskey.

6. Add one cup of hot water (optional)

and stir to combine. Squeeze the rest of the lemon over the whole shebang.

7. Bottoms up. Good luck.


PEACHIES Haribo Ferskner Persikor Covered in sour AND sweet dust, and quite gummy. Apricot + peach combo, I think.

BETTER G+Ps Lakritspinnar They are a bit more cinnamon and spice than a standard Good&Plenty™. Definitely still licorice though.

FRUIT RINGS Pariserringe These little darlings seem made of fruit jelly—and they all taste the same.

SKULLS SOURS Surskaller Yes, the two sides are actually two different flavors: sour cherry + lemon. Your mouth produces a tablespoon of saliva per skull.

SOUR SUSHIS Rocketz They’re going for watermelon in flavor, for sure, but the center’s texture is a bubblegummy fluff that I don’t get.

CITRUS POLES Citrusser Like a meyer-lemon and a sugar cube at a rave. I recommend lining your gums with them before a bike ride.

PIZZA SOURS (Unlabeled bin) Tart, fruit-flavored buddies. Sour at the front, and sweet at the finish, like a well-earned friendship with an old lady.

PIZZA COKES (Unlabeled bin) Okay, it’s cola but it’s got a eucalyptus thing going also. Like they took the -ice from licorice and added cola. Also a very toothsome texture.

PECULIARS Franska Saltpastiller Start off with a root-beer vibe that devolves into a salty mouth-ruiner. A trick!


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FRUIT-LIC BIRDIES Haribo Badminton Bolde Creamsicles with an anise surprise! The red is a perfect raspberry cream....then, without warning, licorice!

SALT MATTES Piratos/Lakridskringler Spicy, salty to start and baking soda to finish. Is this medicinal?

Let’s see, what do we have here?

The Copenhagen late night candy shop, and all its delights. Just a normal stop on the evening errand run, thank you, nestled nicely between the liquor store and the cigarette vending machine on the corner. Inside its florescent hall, there are bulk-bins of licorice and all its cousins and strange half-siblings. There are black straws caked with salt, egg-shaped jellies that explode after a minute in the mouth, bright pink watermelons that hide a salt-licorice center. That is, everything in here might have licorice in it somewhere.

And with whom do I have the honor of sweeting today? Everyone is here with me, at 10:45 PM. I mean everyone! 401K-types, a group who has just wrapped up a magazine shoot, a pharmacist in his whites, three construction workers, and two straight-faced dads. Also one ageless bike guy, could be 65. These regular adults pick-n-pack their cellophane bags with candy, wait patiently in line to weigh-and-pay, and walk out, all without fanfare.

SALT LIC DROPS Haribo Saltbomber Tastes like something you might eat for anemia. Starts off innocent and ends with a very metallic zing.

And, if I had to say, what were the highlights? Firstly, the vibe that lets you know that you’re welcome here whenever you need a bit (or a bag) of candy. There are few places in the U.S. where candy-lust is really sanctioned for adults (the movie theater, the drugstore, a laundromat that has some Mike-n-Ike coin-machines), but here in Copenhagen, the light’s always on. My favorite items were those little unassuming citrus poles, and the salt-licorice skulls that burnt my tongue right off.

FRUIT-LIC BATS Haribo Vampyrer Does licorice pair well with fruit? This gummy suggests no. But it sure is nice to look at!

Which ones wouldn’t I binge on? Though it’s too bad, it seems I should not binge on black licorice because APPARENTLY (according the FDA), it has high levels of glycyrrhizin, which mimics the activity of the female sex hormone estrogen, can raise a person’s blood pressure to deadly levels, and, best of all, can cause congestive heart failure! Luckily though, licorice, like all vices, is completely okay in moderation and brings some medicinal qualities to the table, too.

A candy concept I noticed: SALT SKULLS Saltskallar I should have known. They’re so salty and they never stop haunting your mouth. Are these candy?


These candy pros (for that’s your rightful title if you’ve lived your whole life with shops like this on every block, offering you lessons everyday) liked to put all the salt- and sour- and sugar-covered items into the same bag so that the granules from each would mingle, and make each bite totally insane. I saw a few dudes in suits shaking their bags up on the way out, real is a woman who casual and cool. You can try some of these scandies at scandikitchen.co.uk

loves candy named19 Julienne Alexander.


5 Trips To Give As Gifts For those extra-special people in your life, it may be worth considering a trip-gift rather than a new bathrobe, or whatever. Here’s a few of our favorites. We chose a mix of guided and unguided trips, super bootstrapped and super luxurious, far-flung, backyard, budget, and beyond. Dream and enjoy. – Z.B. $$$

Active Adventures’ Essence of the South Island: Tui

What it is: This 8-day tour de force of New Zealand’s South Island includes biking Te Araroa track, kayaking in Milford Sound, jet-boating around a national park, smallplane flying, and eating well. Very well. Outdoors folks often shy away from group tours, but this one is made for them. Just ask: Trip Leader

Vanessa Wards: “Unlike our longer trips, this one adds in this place called

Siberia Valley. We fly in on a small plane, do a hike up to a glacial lake, stay overnight in a hut, then boat out. It’s my favorite, and it’s pretty magical.” $

Soaking in the South Yuba River

What it is: South Yuba River State Park is just north of Nevada City, California and it is a must if you’re in the area. The short walk from the parking lot down to the stretch of swimmable river transports you from dry desert to big-boulder, clear-water wonderland. Tube, swim, picnic, or just lizard on hot rocks all day.

Just ask: Anyone walking with a six-pack along Pleasant Valley Road between the covered bridge and Rapp Ravine. $$$

SwellWomen’s Surf and Yoga Retreat in El Salvador

What it is: This is the surf vacation of our dreams: incredible waves, company, accommodations, spa treatments, and meals. The trip is geared toward surfers of all levels, from no experience to super-shred, with lessons and equipment included. If you’ve never been to Central America, give this some serious thought. SwellWomen

also runs co-ed retreats in Nicaragua and Maui.

Just ask: Donna,

co-owner of Burton Snowboards and past participant: “It was a life-changing and lifeaffirming experience.” $$

Yoga Borgo

What it is: Yoga Borgo is an ashram nestled in Italian mountains, and it is as peaceful as it sounds. Travelers on a budget can work in the garden and kitchen in exchange for lodging and meals. Just ask: Elizabeth

Wellington, Misadventures contributor: “The wildness and natural beauty of the Borgo fulfilled all my wanderlust.” $

Fort for Two

What it is: This is really just like it sounds. Do you have a sheet? A hammock? A tent? A Dutch oven, perhaps? Make a fire, mix up some hot drinks, and get away for a night in your own backyard. Pro tip: this is a great surprise gift. Just ask: Your childhood self.


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CREDIT Active Adventures’ Essence of the South Island: Tui. Courtesy of Paul McDonald.

YOGA BORGO “The Borgo I Frati has reincarnated as a spiritual community over the course of its many lives. With roots in the fourth century, ‘the hamlet of friars’ broke ground as a co-ed monastery and safe haven for pilgrims. Now it is an ashram steeped in the Kundalini tradition.” Check out misadventuresmag.com for more on the Yoga Borgo experience.


A Conversation with Ashleigh Banfield

CNN journalist pushes the boundaries By CHRISTINE DENNISON

Christine Dennison is a true explorer and adventurer who leads expeditions to the most remote corners of the world and has been honored as a Fellow with the Explorers Club in New York and the Royal Geographical Society of London.

DISCOVER For more on Exploring Women, check out Christine’s column at misadventuresmag.com.

LIKE ALL OF us, I am barraged with news, online and off, much of which is cookie-cutter. My response is to follow the few reporters bold enough in their convictions, opinions, and emotions to involve me in their story. Ashleigh Banfield, of CNN, is one such journalist. She has traveled the world, reported on scene at Ground Zero, interviewed presidents, met with Hezbollah and Hamas leaders, dined with Saudi princes, and rubbed shoulders with Sarah Jessica Parker. Banfield’s office is filled with books, curios, and photos, from family portraits to pictures taken alongside Yasser Arafat to glamour shots on the red carpet. Banfield grew up in Winnipeg, Canada. When I ask her how she got started in journalism, Banfield explains, “I knew early on, about ninth grade, that I wanted to travel as part of my profession. I remember

CREDIT Photo courtesy of Ashleigh Banfield.

watching the civil war being fought in Lebanon on Canada’s national news and thinking a foreign correspondent would be the ultimate career.” Luckily, Banfield’s parents “definitely encouraged independence and different experiences from an early age.” She cycled Europe as a teenager and backpacked around the world after university. “My parents were so supportive of all of my trips. I still can’t believe they were as accepting of the dangers as they were. There were no cell phones back then, no laptops, no email. They truly did kiss me goodbye, cross their fingers, and wait for that first letter from the middle of nowhere. It’s frightening to push your boundaries,” she says. “But you’re not going to discover your potential until you mess up.” Banfield has sage advice for women who travel solo: “Women on their own in places where they


EXPLORING WOMEN might be the only woman need to keep their wits about them. You are not limited because you’re a woman. If you get in the headspace that your strength is somehow mitigated because you are a woman, then it will be. Fortitude comes from many sources… Much of it is mental and, of course, there’s the practical.”

she mentions role models Eleanor Roosevelt and Sally Ride, ultimately Banfield says: “At some low-lows in my career, I found inspiration in my mother. She rose from being a mother of four to succeeding as a real estate tycoon back in the ‘70s when that simply wasn’t done! She faced a lot of adversity from both men and women who felt it was inappropriate to work with children at home. I think life was

a lot tougher for her, so when the going gets tough I put it all in perspective.” That perspective is key for any explorer. “A really healthy dose of humility goes a long way in fostering a good work ethic,” says Banfield. “If you believe you’ve arrived, you are probably only halfway there.” Ashleigh Banfield can be seen daily on her show, “Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield,” on CNN.

“IF YOU BELIEVE YOU’VE ARRIVED, YOU ARE PROBABLY ONLY HALFWAY THERE.” She believes that “respecting other countries’ cultures, traditions and religions is no small feat, but must be at the forefront of your thoughts. You may not agree with them, but if you are a guest in that country...abide by their rules.” Her biggest adventure? “It’s like picking a favorite kid...you just can’t!” Banfield exclaims, but she’s willing to list a few: “Covering the war in Afghanistan was remarkable. Cycling through Europe at age 17 was eye-opening. Climbing in the Himalayas to the Annapurna Base Camp was thrilling and exhausting. Scaling volcanoes in Indonesia and mountains in Greece was breathtaking.” As for her adventure wish list: “There are intriguing countries I have yet to visit, like Bhutan. It was so secretive but is beginning to open up. It would be interesting to see if it’s like a time capsule.” I ask if she misses being out in the field, in war zones, in the fray? No, not right now. “It was very difficult,” Banfield says. “I miss the stories, but between my work and taking care of two small boys I am overwhelmed. The studio work is a welcome relief after decades of extensive travel, but it may be temporary....” Over the course of our conversation, Banfield’s positive attitude is infectious, but I wonder, how does she maintain that outlook? Though


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3 QUESTIONS FOR A TRAIL MAVEN SASHA COX is the founder of Trail Mavens, a San Franciscobased biz dedicated to drop-kicking the primary barriers to entry that keep women from adventuring outdoors. Trail Mavens organizes weekend-long, skill-based camping and backpacking adventures for groups of women, and provides everything you might need: food, gear, and a posse of badasses to explore with. Where were you when you thought of Trail Mavens? Unsurprisingly, I was on a backpacking trip. My husband and I were on the second day of a trek that descends from the mountains outside La Paz down towards the Bolivian Amazon, and as I cooked breakfast that morning, I realized that I never shared the outdoors with my best girl friends—only with significant others. I decided I’d take two friends out on a backpacking trip as soon as I got to California, and about eight seconds later, I realized that I shouldn’t stop with them.

What do you want women to come away with on Trail Mavens trips? A lot, actually! The first and most straightforward? Hard outdoors skills. Every woman who comes on

TRAIL MAVENS For more information, check out trailmavens.com and use the discount code MISADVENTURES25 for $25 off the cost of a trip.

a trip walks away prepared to adventure on her own afterwards, which is pretty badass. Second, the opportunity to be both a student and a teacher. Women of all experience levels join our adventures, from newbies to former wilderness guides. We want everyone to be a teacher and a learner at some point, whether the topic is hanging bear bags, negotiating salary raises, or awesome books. Third, we want women to come away from Trail Mavens feeling like they’re part of a community where it’s totally safe to be goofy, make mistakes, and be vulnerable, knowing that community will endure long after the trip ends. Finally, women most often come away feeling inspired, invigorated, and refreshed.

What do you do when you lose the trail? Breathe. Reflect. Consider where I’ve come from, and where I want to go. Reorient myself towards my destination. (Literally and metaphorically work equally well!)

CREDITS Top and tent assembly photos courtesy of Kara Brodgesell. Campfire photo courtesy of Abby Stewart.

Burning All The Fuses At Once Meet Pia Nic Gundersen: professional freeskier, Arc’teryx athlete, devoted journal-keeper, bad landscape architect, and Norwegian dreamgirl. By ZOË BALACONIS


t was an overcast day in Chicago

when I Skyped with Pia Nic Gundersen, professional freeskier, Arc’teryx athlete, devoted journal-keeper, bad landscape architect, and Norwegian dreamgirl. As soon as the picture came through I gasped a little. I had been inside all day, staring at screens, and her camera was trained out the window at a fiery Norwegian sunset from up high in what I imagine is a perfectly-designed Scandinavian apartment building. She turned the camera to herself. She was walking with the computer. We moved through her apartment. “My boyfriend is making music in the kitchen,” she said and laughed. “So I’m going to a quieter room.” I had gotten in touch to ask her about her ski trip to Narvik, Norway (her first trip since a big ACL injury), and whatever else came up. To get it out of the way, her favorite food? Anything you can put Parmesan cheese on. Was it always this easy to win me over? Probably. So much for journalistic integrity.


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ON SKIING “When you’re there you want to perform as well as possible. You want to ski well. You want to push yourself. But in the mountains I feel safer in skis than anything else. Before I started freeride skiing I was an alpine racer. I stopped when I was twenty. It was not as fun as it had been. I took one year off and tried telemark skiing. But at that time I also started hanging out with a really good group of skiers. They said I had to go back to alpine skis to keep up with them. They also said I was good enough to compete in the Freeride World Tour. My first competition was in 2011.”

ON OTHER THAN SKIING “I studied Landscape Architecture, but I’ve been out of the field for so long, I’m probably the worst landscape architect…. I never had the intention of living through my skiing. I have been lucky. It’s a privilege, but it can also be dangerous. You can lose the passion…. I ski, but I want to do other things in life as well. I want to go between what I do for a living and my passion for skiing. I know skiing will always be a part of my life.”

ON CHALLENGES “I blew my ACL last June. It was operated on in August. We went on the trip in March, and I hadn’t been up on a mountain like that, skiing, for some time. I didn’t know if my knee had the strength—if it would hold. I’m nervous when I’m standing on top. You have a walkie-talkie and when they’re ready they say, ‘okay, go for it.’ It’s scary, but when you point the skis down the mountain that all falls away. Skiing is so basic for me. I’ve been skiing since I was two, so it’s more comfortable for me than most things, even walking.”

ON FAVORITE SKI SPOTS “Chamonix in France and Lofoten, Norway….It’s a big, long thing, Norway. [Ski season] is best up north in late March or April. The conditions become more stable. For the last four or five years January has been really dry, and it’s dark there then. But by March there’s more light. We had amazing light on this trip. The snow turns pink in this light.”

CREDITS All photos courtesy of Arc'teryx.

ON THE POINT OF IT ALL “For me, it’s never been about achieving anything. It’s always just about doing what I like and being with people I like. Some of my best friends I have I’ve met through skiing. But also the longer you are part of this community, this bubble, with no connection to the real world and everyday life, the harder it will be to leave and quit this. You have to keep in mind that you’re privileged and appreciate all parts of life, not just the skiing. What is the phrase? We say ‘don’t burn all your fuses at once...’” “We say, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’” “Yes, that’s the one.”



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ON THE TRIP “The light, the conditions, everything was perfect. It couldn’t have been better. They asked me where I wanted to do the shoot, and I wanted to do it somewhere in Norway, to be close to home…. It was an intense week before we went. There were really bad conditions. It hadn’t snowed for a month or so. It was just ice and hardpack on the mountain. We had somewhere in France as an alternative for the shoot, but I decided to be patient, give it a try. Give it time. Then, it snowed for two whole days. Cleared up, blue skies…. The bottom line of that trip is we were really lucky; that’s one way to look at it. The other is it was meant to be. It was one of those trips where everything could go wrong, but we were just so damn lucky. It was the Trip, with a capital T.”




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CREDIT Bernd Zeugswetter. Majka Burhardt on Promenade WI5+ in the Last Gentleman’s Amphitheater on Mt Pisgah, VT with frozen Lake Willoughby below.

Y FIRST MEMORY of climbing was when I was five. I went to a summer camp in Minnesota and they had an “adventure day.” One of the options that day was rock climbing. And everyone at camp knew that if you chose rock climbing you could go to town afterwards, where you could buy sugar and cotton candy and, basically, gorge yourself. So, my first memory of rock climbing was raising my hand and pushing to the front so that I would have more time for sugar. I thought, I can do this and get it out of the way. This was around 1981. The camp director was a climber, and he just had a bowline on a bite on the back of a boulder, belaying all these campers up. You can’t do that anymore. A defining moment of climbing scaring me was when I was in Alaska in the late ’90s. I was up there, trying to climb the MoonMOONFLOWER is the name for the North Buttress of Mount Hunter (14,573 ft) in Denali National Park. The route is located at the upper SE fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.

flower buttress on Mount Hunter. We had gone partway up the route when a huge warm spell came in. We were hunkered down in camp for several days and things were falling apart everywhere and crevasses were opening—it felt really big. And kind of daunting. We finally went up to climb a route and got on one I’d already done a week before and it felt—just, not okay. For the first time I didn’t want to be where I was. I just didn’t want to do it. I remember looking at my partner Eli and saying, “No.” Moonflower is this long route—and it’s pretty serious, especially in those days—so we came down. The next day a friend of ours, higher up on the route, called for help. A guy named Steve Mascioli had been killed about 20 pitches above us. He’d been killed by these giant, refrigerator-sized chunks of ice that came off on him while he was climbing, and Allan [Kearney,

READ For more tales of climbing and beyond, check out Burhardt’s books, Vertical Ethiopia: Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa and Coffee Story: Ethiopia.

his partner], had My dream of “I will climb and I will climb to self-rescue. and I will climb and it will be amazing and it We got Allan will all happen and it will all come together” back safely to camp. We had to travel —that all really fell apart at that moment. along a glacier, and had he been by himself I don’t think he would’ve been able to get back to base camp, especially point everything had gone well. since it was so warm. The next day I set my sights on something, I we watched the helicopter come achieved it. I set my sights on and pluck Steve’s body off the side something, I achieved it. I was of Moonflower, and, suddenly, it thinking, I’m going to be the best was like, holy shit. This is real. And climber ever. I’m going to be this this is not what I think it is. My amazing sponsored athlete. I’m dream of “I will climb and I will going to guide all over the world climb and I will climb and it will and it’s all going to be brilliant. be amazing and it will all happen And I didn’t realize it at the and it will all come together”—that time, but that day on Moonflower all really fell apart at that moment. was a defining moment for me. I I was supposed to spend another wouldn’t have admitted it then, but month in Alaska, but we came out it really changed the direction of of the mountains and went home. my climbing, and my understandThis was very early on in my ing of risk, and what I was going to climbing career, and up until that lay on the line.

Majka Burhardt is an author, professional climber, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. Misadventures spoke with her about her first memory of climbing—and her first memory of climbing fear.



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O N A U G UST 1 0 , 1 8 9 0 , A Y O U N G J O U R N A L IST ST U M B L E D I NTO A S U M M IT C R AT E R , E X H A UST E D B UT P R O U D . SHE HAD BEEN climbing through steep glaciers, exposed rock ridges, and deep snow drifts for more than a week. Her skin was burned and peeling, despite the charcoal she’d smeared across her face. She wore heavy flannel underwear, woolen hose, heavy calfskin shoes, and a small straw hat. Her name was Fay Fuller, and on that late afternoon in August she became the first woman known to reach the summit of Mount Rainier. Fuller’s party faced difficult climbing conditions, but she refused assistance, saying that if she couldn’t achieve her goal without help she did not deserve to reach it. They reached the summit late in the afternoon, and quickly decided that it was too late in the day to risk descent, choosing instead to spend a sleepless night in an ice cave created by steam vents. The next morning they descended to Camp Muir, where they spent five days recovering. “Our lips, noses, and almost all of our faces were swollen out of proportion,” Fuller wrote. “For several days, the pain was intense.” Still, she did not regret the experience. In 1900, she left the Pacific Northwest to continue her journalism career in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City. She continued to champion women in the mountains until her death in 1958, and there’s a small peak named after her in Mount Rainier National Park. She wrote


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prolifically about any number of adventurous things, but my favorite line of hers is the one in which she describes standing on the summit of Mount Rainier: “…words cannot describe scenery and beauty. Such sensations can be known only to those who reach the heights.”

MOUNT RAINIER IS unique: at 14,410 feet, it is the tallest mountain in Washington state, and the most prominent in the contiguous United States. Because it is a volcano, it stands alone on the skyline, and it is the centerpiece of the more than 235,000-acre Mount Rainier National Park, which is a two-hour drive southeast of Seattle. On sunny days it towers over the landscape, begging to be climbed by Amazon employees who gaze longingly at the snow-covered slopes each morning over coffee on their daily commute. Because of Rainier’s beauty and proximity to the greater Seattle area, the park is heavily used. Each year, about 2 million people visit to throw snowballs, hike in the footsteps of John Muir, and snap adventurous-looking selfies: #Mountains. #Authentic. #Youwouldnotbelievehowmanytouristsgohikingwearingflipflopsandnosunscreen. Lots of people come to climb the mountain, too. According to the National Park Service, more than 10,000 people try for the summit each year, and roughly half of those FAY FULLER A true writer/climber/alliteration-enthusiast (triple threat!) after our own hearts, Fay Fuller wrote a column for the Tacoma Ledger called "Mountain Murmurs." She covered mountaineering news, events, and notable ascents.

climbers succeed. All routes require ropes and crampons; as the most glaciated mountain in the Lower 48, Rainier boasts more than 35 square miles of ice and permanent snowfields, and climbing the mountain requires navigating steep and varied terrain. There are dozens of routes to the summit, but the five most commonly climbed are the Disappointment Cleaver, the Emmons Glacier, the Kautz Glacier, Liberty Ridge, and the Fuhrer Finger. More than 80 percent of climbers choose the Disappointment Cleaver; on a sunny summer weekend, you might see hundreds of other climbers above and below you. Despite Mount Rainier’s accessibility, it isn’t a climb to be underestimated. Thousands of first-time climbers safely reach the summit each year. But each year brings deaths, too. I’ve been guiding on Mount Rainier for most of my twenties, and every year I am more sure that the upper reaches of that mountain are not a place to fuck around.

IN 1891, ONLY a year after Fay Fuller’s first female ascent of the mountain, 13-year-old Susan Longmire became the youngest known woman to summit the peak. Then, in 1918, Alma Wagen became the park’s first female guide. According to legend, Alma met staunch resistance from her male counterparts when she first CREDIT Pictured on right: Emily Johnston. All photos by Matthew Van Biene.


I WA NT E D TO T E AC H OT H E R WO M E N T H E JOY OF CLIMBING. applied for the job. But she worked hard to gain skills and mountain experience, and when those male counterparts left for the First World War, she landed a position guiding with the Rainier National Park Company. “Mountain climbing is the greatest sport in the world,” she told one interviewer. “There is no better fun than […] sliding


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hundreds of feet on the snow in the mid-summer while the rest of the world is sweltering below you, or to know the wonderful exhilaration of viewing range on range of mountain peaks for hundreds of miles, that rise in tinted ranks against the sky.” She worked as a guide for many years, even leading the John D. Rockefeller party in 1920. Many

years later, she told American Magazine: “It was like opening a new life to me. I wanted to teach other women the joy of climbing.” There are more women in the mountains today, both climbing and guiding, but female guides are still a minority among my coworkers on Mount Rainier. Our numbers are increasing, though. We often work in guide teams of four; this year, for the first time, I led a guide team in which women were not the minority.

I’VE BEEN GUIDING on Mount Rainier since 2010. To be frank, I stumbled into the profession: I’d graduated from the University of Washington the year before, and had spent my first agonized year of graduate school working part-time in the office of a Seattle-based guide service. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew for damn sure that it didn’t involve answering phones and licking weird-tasting PHOTOS (L-R): 1: Betsy Dain-Owens 2. Liz Riggs Meder with her daughter, Madison 3. Mary Brown 4. Charlotte Austin (author)

envelopes to advertise other people’s adventures. So I became a Wilderness First Responder, got some avalanche training, and started knocking on doors. I’ll never forget the first trip I worked on Mount Rainier. I was an assistant guide. It was an eightday seminar that culminated in a summit bid, and when we left the trailhead our packs weighed 60 or 70 pounds. I was 23; the youngest of my clients was over 40. But they were real: there was no bullshit, no posturing, no romanticizing the pain and blisters and beauty. No themountains-are-calling-and-I-must-go. I made $150 a day, and I didn’t work with another woman for that entire first summer. I had my ass kicked harder than I could have imagined. It was the happiest I’d ever been.

THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY is not an easy life to choose, particularly for a woman. In the United

States, only 11% of mountain guides are female. It’s worse in France, where only 17 of the 1,700 licensed guides are women. That ratio is slightly better on Mount Rainier, but when I show up for work I fully expect to be elbow-to-elbow with male guides. It’s a rare treat to work with another female guide. It’s hard to generalize these women, because each of their stories is unique. There’s Mary, who grew up in Alaska, then went to Dartmouth, and now lives in a van named Cool Runnings. She wears leggings with hummingbirds, and has triceps for days. There’s Betsy, who occasionally rocks a mohawk and is one of the physically strongest women I’ve ever met. There’s Liz, an aerospace engineer who works as a mountain guide and outdoor educator between contracts at Boeing. Last year she gave birth to Madison, a beautiful little girl. This year we sat together, silently, on the firm snow of the summit

SCHOLARSHIPS The American Mountain Guides Association trains and accredits mountain guides, and offers five scholarships specifically for women; all are sponsored by outdoor industry leaders to support greater representation of women in mountain guiding. Interested? Visit amga.com/scholarships.

crater, as she pumped breast milk to take home to her daughter. I recently asked Liz whether she thinks it’s important for women to have female role models. “Yes!” she said. “Perhaps more now than when I was younger. I’m inspired to see other women do what they love, bring a sense of purpose to the life they lead, and foster community.” ONE SUCH ROLE model is Bronka Sundstrom, a five-foot Polish woman who wears bright red tights, gas-station sunglasses, and an infallible grin. When we pass on the trail, I tell my clients her story: in 2002, she became the oldest woman to climb Mount Rainier — in a single day. “I never thought I could do it,” she said. “I’m just an old lady.” But that old lady busted out a 19-hour round-trip climb. “A one-day climb would be an extreme event for most mountaineers,” said Mike Gauthier, who



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was then lead climbing ranger at the park. “Out of thousands of climbers, there are probably 50 ascents like that per year.” At the time, Bronka was 77 years old. It’s not surprising that Bronka’s got grit. She survived imprisonment at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, where she lost her parents and seven siblings in the Holocaust. Then she moved to Sweden, where she met her husband, Ake. They moved to the United States together in 1949, then retired to a tiny Scandinavian-style cabin in Ashford, where they hiked the park’s foothills and volunteered on the trails as often as they could. Ake died in 2010, but Bronka still laces up her boots almost every day. “If it weren’t for the hiking, I probably wouldn’t be able to function,” she says. “Other people having drinking or smoking. I have the mountains.”

THEN THERE’S EMILY Johnston, a 52-year-old mountain guide who moonlights as an emergency room doctor. Emily’s story is fascinating: she worked as a mountain guide, ski patroller, and Outward Bound instructor for most of her twenties and thirties, then started medical school at age 39. She finished her residency at age 47; now, at 52, she is the oldest woman working on Mount Rainier, where she guides and serves as medical director for International Mountain Guides. She teaches courses on mountain medicine and advanced wilderness life support, and she consults with the Mount Rainier National Park to streamline their rescue protocol. She lives in a tiny house on a dirt road, and has the coolest hair I’ve ever seen. We call her the Dirtbag Doctor. When I interviewed Emily last year, she pondered some of the similarities between being a doctor and a mountain guide. “Whether I’m roped up with a client or

PHOTOS (Top-Bottom): 1. Emily Johnston, in her house. 2. Mary Brown, in her van, Cool Runnings.

OT H E R P E O P L E H AV E D R I N K I N G O R S M O K I N G . I H AV E T H E M O U NTA I N S . treating a patient in an exam room, I constantly ask myself: Why is this person here? What does this person really need out of this experience? And how can I help them get it?” I think about that when I’m in the mountains, too. Evaluating each climber’s goals for a trip can be an important part of making sure that clients leave feeling satisfied. Some people want to challenge themselves physically; others are looking to expose themselves to a little bit of heart-pounding, well-managed risk. Some people come to learn a new skill, or see dramatic and unfamiliar terrain. Sometimes clients are climbing to honor the life — or, maybe more realistically, process the death — of a loved one. And sometimes people simply want to feel like part of something bigger.

WHEN I CLIMB, my mind wanders to the women who came before me. I think of the 21-year-old journalist in hand-sewn flannel, wiping sweat from her eyes as she squints to scan the cracks in blue-gray glacier ice, looking for the next twist in her path. I think of the stooped but spry 90-year-old, and whether the

crash of falling ice in the distance reminds her of the war. I think of Liz, and I wonder whether she sees her daughter’s tiny cheeks when the pewter sky fades to pink in the predawn alpine glow. These women are tough, strong, radiant beings. They are not invincible: they’ve cried on summits, bled for the team, smuggled flasks into tents late at night. Every one of us has fielded unwanted advances in the mountains; every one of us has been doubted because of our gender. None of us make much money. Very few of us have health insurance. I’ve watched female coworkers survive crumbling relationships, crippling self-doubt, agonizing injury. Guiding is hard. But these are women who set the alarm early, lace up their boots, and lead by example. Each one of them treats confidence as a practice, like yoga or forgiveness or taking the stairs. They lead teams into the alpine; they live the lives they’ve imagined. We hold each other to high standards, and we remember that the women who walked these glaciers before us have shown us the path, or — maybe better yet — that we are capable of finding our own.


True Blue When Dr. Sylvia Earle first appears in the documentary Mission Blue, she’s surrounded by sharks— and she’s laughing. By JESSICA REESE

THEN, IN HER signature red fins, she swims among them, as part of an expedition tracking whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Though they aren’t as obviously lovable as dolphins or sea otters, sharks are as good a place as any to begin to understand Earle’s lifelong passion for the ocean, which has led to a decades-spanning career as a scientist, diver, conservation advocate, and current National Geographic Explorer-inResidence. When asked what it’s like to dive alongside sharks, Earle describes her early days as a diver. She was told that sharks were to be feared, of course, but jokes that she simply assumed the constant warning—“Watch out for the man-eaters”—didn’t apply to her because she was a woman. Kidding aside, Earle explains that although shark attacks on humans can be devastating, they’re incredibly rare: “We must not taste good! They’ve been around for more than 300 million years, and humans have been around a very short period of time, and so we’re not on their menu.” It turns out that the most dangerous predators in the ocean aren’t sharks, but humans. Human activity has depleted the ranks of many species of sharks by more than 90%, and that’s a problem, according to Earle: “We need sharks—we now understand their role in ocean food webs, in nutrient cycles, in maintaining the integrity of coral


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CREDIT Photo courtesy of Sylvia Earle and Hope Spots Company Inc.


Look at the evidence. Go diving.... And then draw your own conclusions. reefs, of the open sea, of the ocean generally. They are critical elements and have been for millions of years. Humans have come along and disrupted those tightly-knit systems in a matter of decades.” Communicating the urgency of shark conservation and inspiring others to join her in protecting the ocean has become Earle’s life’s work, and her efforts and life story are the subject of Mission Blue, a Netflix Original that premiered in fall 2014. When Earle was a teenager coming of age on the Gulf Coast of Florida, people believed—as


CREDIT Earle in a scene from the Netflix docuMisadventures mentary Mission Blue. Photo courtesy of Netflix. Issue 0

many people still do today—that it wasn’t possible for humans to harm the ocean. It’s just too big! they thought. But there’s plenty of evidence to prove otherwise, and braided into the film’s depiction of Earle’s life and work is an overview of how humans have changed the ocean for the worse within Earle’s lifetime. For example, runoff from nitrogen fertilizers used in U. S. industrial agriculture flows down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico, creating oxygen-free dead zones where fish suffocate by the thousands. Overfishing has decimated fish populations all over the world. Climate change has heated up the oceans to the extent that once-bustling, bright coral reefs in the Pacific are now bleached-out ghost towns, damaged by even subtle shifts in water temperature. Earle was unequivocal in our interview about the real and urgent need to protect the oceans. “The evidence is there. None of what the film conveys is a matter of opinion,” she said. “Do the math yourself. Look at the numbers. Look at the evidence. Go diving. Go see for yourself, and talk with people who’ve been around over a few decades before your time. And hear stories. And then draw your own conclusions.” In some ways, it seems really that simple. Earle described the reactions of people she’s met during her decades of advocacy—fishermen and students, movie stars and politicians—and it’s clear that “aha moments” aren’t rare in her line of work, whether they lead to people writing million-dollar checks or joining Earle in deciding not to eat fish. It helps that her message is straightforward and delivered with equal parts passion and scientific expertise: “No oceans, no us.” The health of the ocean—which, among other essential functions, provides most of the oxygen we breathe—directly impacts our own health in ways we may not realize.

That’s why Earle now spends about 300 days a year on the road, spreading the word. In addition to lecturing, she continues to go on diving expeditions. In fact, when we spoke on a Friday in August 2014, right before the premiere of Mission Blue, I asked if she already had her next dive planned, and Earle’s response was instant and enthusiastic: “Yes! Monday!” She was traveling with Google and Catlin Seaview Survey to the Florida Keys, a prime example of how much damage has been done to the ocean in a relatively short period of time. She fired off a list of species in the Keys, from lobsters to parrotfish, that are now seriously threatened by human activity such as real estate development and overfishing. Speaking post-dive with National Geographic, she said, “The poor quality of the water was palpable.” She would know: she’s been exploring the Keys since the 1950s and has vivid memories of clear waters and colorful creatures like pink conchs and striped Nassau grouper, animals that once appeared in abundance and now survive only because they’re protected in U. S. waters. But if the Florida Keys are a case study in how much we’ve done wrong when it comes to the ocean, they’re also an example of what we can do right—if we decide to. Earle explained that areas of the Keys set aside for conservation have been successfully recovering, and that means there is room for hope. That hope, backed up with evidence, is what fuels the mission of her organization Mission Blue: to create marine protected areas, or “hope spots,” all over the world. The ocean’s equivalent of national parks, MPAs are strategically selected zones of the ocean where conservation efforts not only make a difference within the zone itself but also create positive ripple effects throughout a wider area. It’s an idea that earned Earle a TED Prize in 2009 and the opportunity

CREDIT Courtesy of Earle and Hope Spots Company Inc.



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to deliver a TED Talk, and it was as a result of that talk that the funding for Mission Blue—both the organization and the film—came about. Mission Blue’s goal is to ensure that 20% of the world’s oceans are protected by the year 2020. Estimates vary, but only between one and three percent of the ocean is currently under any kind of protection, compared to about 12% of Earth’s land. Even if the political will to save the oceans were in place, it is still a challenge to organize broad conservation efforts for the high seas, since it’s often hard to say who exactly has jurisdiction where, and which governments or international entities have the authority to create and enforce protective rules. On top of that, each problem the ocean faces has a separate and complex solution; reducing overfishing, for example, is entirely different from tackling global climate change. So it’s difficult for ocean advocates to combine efforts to affect significant change, even though they’re all on the same side. That’s one of the reasons that Mission Blue has united a diverse array of organizations, from multinational corporations

CREDITS Full Page Photo: Earle in a scene from the Netflix documentary Mission Blue. Photo courtesy of Netflix. Photos Top to Bottom, L-R: 1. Earle in JIM Suit. Courtesy of Al Giddings and Hope Spots Company Inc. 2. Courtesy of Earle and Hope Spots Company Inc. 3. Earle - Tektite. Courtesy of Earle and Hope Spots Company Inc. 4. Earle and dolphin. Courtesy of Earle and Hope Spots Company Inc.


You have to love it before you are moved to save it. and nonprofits to small research teams, around the effort to create hope spots. It’s a big idea, but it’s still simpler and more concrete than the well-intentioned (but difficult-to-act-on) impulse to protect the ocean in general, and it’s a project that ocean advocates working on separate issues can all get behind. Mission Blue’s website currently lists 58 hope spots in every ocean, off the coasts of all seven continents. Some of these areas are now formally protected, while others are works in progress. In the meantime, the news is frequently grim. A study published in Science in January 2015 demonstrated that humans’


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CREDITS Top to Bottom: 1. Fisher in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico. Courtesy of Bryce Groark and Hope Spots Company Inc. 2. Earle with whale sharks. Courtesy of Hope Spots Company Inc. 3. Fisher and Earle. Courtesy of Hope Spots Company Inc.

negative impact on ocean health is accelerating. Although the study’s authors note that human activity has thus far been much more disastrous on land than in the water—and that there’s still time to change course—the headline of a New York Times article about the study was unequivocal: “Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction.” According to a recent World Wildlife Federation report, marine populations dropped 49% between 1970 and 2012. That’s half the ocean’s creatures, gone in four decades. So protecting the oceans is a race against time, and, as with every cause, there is sometimes a sense that the arc of ocean advocacy moves one step forward, two steps back. Naturally that’s demoralizing. But fear-mongering and guilt-tripping can only go so far in motivating people to keep fighting; that kind of attitude makes it all too easy to burn out, however good one’s intentions are at the beginning. So what’s sustained Earle throughout her career is an altogether different and more powerful fuel: awe. Earle’s drive to protect the ocean emerged when she was a curious teenage girl picking through seaweed on the Gulf Coast. Those early firsthand experiences of the ocean proved to be essential because, as she told Time magazine in 1998, “You have to love it before you are moved to save it.” Although curling up on the couch to watch Mission Blue is far from going on a dive, the film provides ample justification for the wonder Earle feels. Dazzling underwater photography reveals shades of blue that we don’t even have names for, and captures creatures that the word “otherworldly” would have been invented to describe if we did not, in fact, share a planet with them. Earle’s sense of awe has led her to remarkable—and dangerous— places. She picked up the nickname “Her Deepness” after donning a

hard-bodied JIM suit in 1979 and walking untethered on the ocean floor, 1250 feet beneath the surface off the coast of Oahu. At that depth, the water exerted 600 pounds of pressure per square inch and could have crushed her if the suit had failed during the two-and-a-halfhour excursion. Earle recalled that communication between her and the rest of the team cut out twice for several minutes before the final, successful dive. When asked how she felt when cut off, her response was instant and surprising: “I was relieved. I was relieved not to have to keep talking to those people on the surface. They were worried about me, but I wasn’t worried about me. I just wanted to get on with it.” She later asked them to turn the lights off so that she could walk in the dark, an experience she described as “magical.” Earle loves diving at night, especially on moonless nights, because even after logging thousands of hours diving, she still finds bioluminescence astonishing—“the fireworks,” she said, “are everywhere.” Earle has practical—and maybe humbling—advice for would-be explorers seeking similar adventures. First of all, one doesn’t have to go far to see the world: Earle earnestly sang the praises of investigating a backyard, the cracks of a city sidewalk, or a shovelful of dirt. Exploration isn’t about spending lots of money to reach trendily far-flung territory; though she’s supportive of responsible tourism that respects local ecosystems and cultures, Earle believes that, at heart, exploration is about “looking at the world with new eyes and realizing that wherever on the planet you are, you are a part of a miracle, of a blue planet, in the midst of a lot of unfriendly options.” She also expressed deep enthusiasm for tools like Google Earth, the work of filmmakers like James Cameron, and all of the other avenues that now exist

for learning about the planet. For Earle, increasing access to those resources is key, so that everyone can start developing the habit of experiencing awe. As it turns out, awe is a muscle, built through the quietly radical act of paying attention. There’s so much we don’t know—Earle said that 95% of the ocean still hasn’t been seen by anyone—and yet given how much we do know, she asserted, “This is the moment, as never before, to really grasp the significance of being a human being on a living planet and to use our powers to really take care of this remarkable living speck in the universe and protect it.” In Mission Blue and in interview after interview, Earle reiterates her sense that the time is now. It’s combined with her persistent optimism, which stems in part from the passionate responses of the people who hear her speak and from the fact that we know more now about how to protect the ocean than ever before. In a way that few others have, she has seen the profound long-term damage caused by human activity, and yet, writing for the Virginia Quarterly Review in 2012, she summed up her outlook in this way: “We may be the planet’s worst nightmare, but we are also its best hope….Lucky us: We are residents of Earth, the sweetest place in the universe, at this, the sweetest time.” It’s important to note that when Earle talks about hope, she doesn’t mean the cheerful assumption that everything will turn out all right in the end, no matter what. Instead, it’s hope as Rebecca Solnit defined it in her book Hope in the Dark: “Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky…. Hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency.” Mission Blue is hardly a cheerful film. But with its argument that we can save the oceans if we try—and therefore we must try—it is an astonishingly hopeful one.


K AR AOK E G I S E X , L I E S , A N D S I N G A LO N G S I N T H E PAC I F I C B y A N N A VO D I C K A AM WAITING FOR a round of drinks at the bar when one of the new girls approaches. She wears black stilettos and blue eye shadow and shimmies her already booty-short black spandex cocktail dress up until the hem no longer hugs her upper thighs, but clings precariously to the underside of her buttocks. It reminds me of watching a rock climbing friend flatten his body horizontally under a wall ledge—how dangerous it looked, to not only be on the edge, but beneath the edge, climbing up.

The bar is busier than I’ve ever seen it, packed with Asian tourists who likely spent their day on a dive boat and are vacationing on island with money to burn, and a number of locals who are here for the singing. There are plenty of men around, and there’s room at the bar, but the girl squeezes in close, linking her arm in mine. A perfume wave washes over me. “Hi!” she shouts over the earnest, off-key ballad echoing behind us. “I didn’t see you come in. What’s your name? You’re beautiful. You’re sexy.” I tell her my name is Anna. She tells me her name is Chel,

but the balladeer drowns us out. She repeats the word, close to my ear: “CHEL, like seashell.” Chel doesn’t look as young as most of the girls. She has faint lines around her eyes, a hardened jaw, a fearless look. If this was a karaoke bar back home, she’d be the friend you dared to sing “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” and she’d dance on the bar while doing it. But I am far from home. And while it’s hard to place Chel’s accent through the noise, I know already that she, like the rest of the girls, has just arrived from the Philippines. “Nice to meet you,” I say. “Did you just move here?”


IMPORT/EXPORT The word "karaoke" is a loanword from Japanese that means "empty orchestra." It's derived from "okesutora"—which is, in turn, a Japanese adoption of the English word "orchestra."

ILLUSTRATIONS by Julienne Alexander

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She nods excitedly, like she’s on vacation. Backlit by the neon glow of the karaoke screen, she’s electric. “Nice to meet you too!” she says. “I like you! You’re so beautiful. You’re so sexy.” “Thanks,” I say. “You too.” She beams. I trade the bartender a twenty-dollar bill for four cans of Budweiser—one of the prices you pay for island life, I’ve learned. The steep cost of imported goods. We chat while I wait, Chel pausing every so often to laugh, hike up her miniskirt, or tell me that I am sexy. When I turn to deliver the beer to my friend’s birthday party in the back, I give Chel’s hand a quick squeeze. “Good luck,” I say. She smiles like she’ll take it, then joins the rest of the girls who float the room like a colony of scantily-clad worker bees, greeting gentlemen at the door, grinding on the dance floor, and guarding the hive of private rooms down the red-lit hall.

T he island c atered to my dork

WHEN WE MOVED to Palau, an island nation of 20,000 people in western Micronesia, 600 miles east of the Philippines, my partner and I knew almost nothing about the place. We’d checked out a few library

I am wait ing for a round of d rinks whe

books—dry accounts of World War II battles, dated guides on tropical fish. A colleague of Brian’s who had visited described Palau as “Hawaii before Hawaii got touristy.” But we were mainly going on the blind faith of a Wikipedia page and postcard-perfect Google images, all the photographic evidence we needed to affirm the subject line of a job announcement Brian had received: “Come work in paradise!” On arrival, we wore the stupefied look people wear when they move to a tropical island and wake up to a hammock on the deck, turquoise ocean studded with palm-fringed islands, trees heavy with coconut and ripe green papaya. We did a little dance in the living room. We repeated, incredulously, as if to remind ourselves it was real: “We live here.” The illusion was only heightened by the fact that the island catered to my dorkiest passion: karaoke was everywhere. On an initial tour of Koror— Palau’s kilometer-long downtown strip of souvenir shops, cafés, and palm-thatched communal huts—I nodded politely as Brian’s coworkers identified government buildings, banks and markets. But in my head, I ecstatically noted the half-dozen establishments advertising “Karaoke T.V.,” or KTV, an acronym you come to recognize in East Asia and the Pacific, where karaoke is the favored nightlife entertainment. My infatuation with the world’s cheesiest art form began in 1988, when I was six years old and my

dad bought one of the earliest “home sing-along machines.” Dad came across the machine in a Sharper Image catalog and, as he recalls, “just had to have it.” He unveiled it at Christmas, a boxy speaker tied in a big red bow. Karaoke swept Japan in the 1970s but was slow to charm the West, where it tanked on arrival in Los Angeles in 1982. Like most of the country, my family in Wisconsin had never heard of it. Once we connected the mic and pressed “Play” on the double-cassette deck, though, the holiday season was nonstop Elvis and Andrews Sisters impersonations, Vegas-style renditions of “Copa Cabana,” and Christmas carol spoofs. In college, it was Boston’s Chinatown and hole-in-the-wall restaurants with karaoke after dark. In grad school, it was a cowboy bar called The Plantation, $1 PBR pints and improbably good Buffalo wings. When Brian and I got hitched, we didn’t so much ride into the sunset as rock into sunrise at my hometown karaoke bar, where we duet-ed an impromptu “White Wedding.” (Thank you, Billy Idol. And thank you, Grandma, for tucking in early.) I’ve generally surrounded myself with musicians, i.e., music snobs—you know, people with taste. If karaoke has a taste, it’s a cross between PBR and Buffalo wings and the blue chalk of a pool cue. And while that scene has gained popularity with hipsters, and American Idol has democratized the performance landscape, it is still generally agreed upon that



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karaoke is tacky, inauthentic, only-do-it-if-I’m-shitfaced-and-eventhen-dear-god-please-no. A cheap imitation. A prostitution of talent. The underside of art. But if karaoke is lowbrow, it is for a higher cause. As Brian Rafferty writes in Don’t Stop Believin’: How Karaoke Conquered the World, “Underneath all the social barriers like headphones and iPods, we’re just a world of singing fools.” I had seen it that Christmas, when my otherwise shy father crooned Buddy Holly like it was 1957, his hips swiveling the Twist, his voice throwing Holly-style hiccups: “That’ll be the day-hay-hay that I die.” The passage of the mic was a transfer of power. Karaoke could turn a quiet bar rowdy, or a rowdy bar reverent. It could tame egos, amplify quiet voices, inspire harmony among strangers. (Nothing like a communal rendition of “Baby Got Back” to transcend barriers.) In Palau, karaoke was an extension of a serious cultural appreciation and knack for singing. Brian’s government job meant holiday parties, and every celebration was an opportunity for choreographed song and dance—traditional vehicles for storytelling and clan competition. Unlike the U.S., where we fear activities that might make us look silly in front of the boss, Brian was instructed to don a grass skirt for the annual Christmas party and practice dancing as if he was “wiping his butt against a wall.” I’ll never forget the image of men from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure wearing pigtails and giant diapers, galloping around a bar straddling orange construction cones for their choreography (they won by a landslide). Or the time I inquired about the lyrics that accompanied one particularly suggestive dance move: “Oh, they’re making fun of the senator’s wife.” Palauans sang unabashedly, full volume, in public. Hairdressers sang while trimming. Kids gathered

to harmonize after school. And by some tiny-genetic-pool fluke or collective nurturing of the vocal instrument, the singing was outstanding, powerful, pitch-perfect. The waiter did a mean John Legend. The grocery clerk sang like Adele.

inspections and regular weighins” to “being paraded in a line in front of customers to be chosen for sex.” Evidence revealed the women were confined to locked barracks, deprived of food and pay. The bar ledger showed the

In t h e Pa c i f i c , ka ra oke is n ot onl y p op ul a r, c o ol , i n de ma nd . It i s sex y. And se

I had moved to a place of dreams, a tropical paradise where everyone was singing. There was only one hitch: karaoke, it turned out, really was a prostitution.

IN 2007, PALAU’S Supreme Court convicted four foreign nationals in its first trial under a newly enacted Anti-Smuggling and Trafficking Act. The defendants became known as “The Carnival Four”—the owner, manager, mamasan and recruiter at Carnival Restaurant and Karaoke in Koror, where fifteen Filipinas and nine Chinese women were forced into prostitution. “The victims alleged they were deceived into coming to Palau to work as waitresses,” a report by HumanTrafficking.org reads, “only to end up serving up drinks—and themselves—in a karaoke bar.” The waitresses testified to abuses ranging from “underwear

women earned a salary as low as seven dollars a month. It’s a familiar tale in the trafficking world. Like Dubai, Qatar, and other regions faced with rapid growth and an influx of foreign investment, Palau—on a much smaller scale—has built itself in recent decades on the shoulders of cheap foreign labor, importing thousands of workers from Bangladesh and the Philippines to do the heavy lifting. The U.S. Department of State documents a common scenario: recruiters enlist workers in their home countries, offering waitress or clerk jobs with attractive salaries and benefits. They sign a contract, trusting their futures to foreign employers who have zero incentive to honor them, and sometimes spend years saving up for a flight to the promised land, where they’ll land as second-class citizens. With its remote beaches, mystical rock islands jutting out of


cerulean seas—an idyllic parking spot for yacht traffic—and some of the best scuba diving in the world, Palau caters to a high-end crowd. I winced more than once when, after a dive, tourists complained that they “didn’t see enough big fishes,” or they wanted “more sharks next time.” That crowd demands increased agriculture and infrastructure. It also demands entertainment. This is the shadow side of globalization, and an often-unstated aspect of travel in the developing world: workers forced into extreme conditions, sometimes at the expense of the travel industry itself. The Carnival Four convictions, which came with stiff penalties of up to 50 years imprisonment and $500,000 fines, “put Palau on the world map” in what HumanTrafficking.org called “a growing trend of countries prosecuting karaoke bars for deceiving and trafficking waitresses into forced prostitution, a practice particularly common in the Pacific region.” Lead prosecutor on the case, Erin Johnson, called karaoke bars “the new face of human trafficking.”

THE NEXT TIME I sang karaoke, I scanned the room for Chel


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but didn’t see her. It had only been a month, but still, I thought wishfully, Maybe she got out. Maybe she’s home. Because it’s easy, on vacation, to see the woman waving from the spa, or the bartender with his tray of umbrella-ed cocktails, as part of the paradisaical landscape, at our service. But over the course of a year on a tiny island, it was impossible to ignore the chasm between our work, our rights, our choices, and theirs. My favorite bartender was trapped in a faulty contract: longer hours, lower wages, not a single vacation day honored. But he couldn’t afford the flight back to Manila, and was forbidden by law from changing jobs. The Filipina baristas at my favorite coffee shop came to Palau to waitress and wound up at the Shangri-La—an ironic name for a massage parlor that forces female employees to perform sex and sleep in barracks locked from the outside. They ran away to the police. A trial date was set. But the defendants fled the island, unencumbered by law enforcement, while these women were stuck serving coffee to former patrons. In a world like this, choice assumes privilege, and the distinction between work and exploitation is about as clear as a drunken group rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

I was out the door, down the front steps, when I heard a voice shouting, “Wait! Wait!” I turned to see Chel running after me in those precarious stilettos. “It’s you,” she said, out of breath. She wore the same black minidress. But the girl-gone-wild was missing, replaced with a vulnerability that made her appear younger, afraid. The vacation had ended, as it always must in paradise, like a favorite song overplayed. I could see it in her eyes, which searched mine skittishly, as if reading them for a word or a sign. But I had no words, no answers, no meaning for any of this. So we just stood there in the parking lot of the KTV, Chel’s arms flung tight around my neck like she was on the edge of something, holding on.

ONE NEEDN’T ENTER a karaoke joint in the Pacific to know there’s more than a genial sing-along going on. Here, KTVs have names like “Single Ladies Club” and “Attractive Bar.” Inside, girls in sexy costumes work the room—if they are waitresses, they aren’t interested in taking orders. Instead, they beeline for single men who disappear and reappear from

private rooms with goofy smiles, high-fiving friends at the bar. This isn’t unique to the Pacific region. It isn’t endemic to it either. Like Spam and MSG, KTVs and Karaoke Girls are island imports introduced by outsiders who stand to benefit from the business. Palau, an independent country in free association with the United States, takes most of its cues from the West—a consequence of World War II, when the U.S. won a swath of Pacific islands from Japan and has since used them as strategic outlets for everything from nuclear testing to “Made in America” sweatshops. English is a national language. The U.S. dollar is national currency. Health, education, and government in Palau all rely ideologically (and financially) on the States. But when it comes to tourism, the East rules. On this side of the world, karaoke is not only popular, cool, in demand. It is sexy. And sex is one of the most lucrative industries on the planet. In his book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, economist Siddharth Kara details the appallingly low stakes

On a t iny island , it wa s im pos sible to ignore t he c ha sm bet w

and high profits traffickers face, even in countries like the U.S., where the rule of law is enforceable. “Inverting the risk-reward economics,” Kara suggests, “should be top priority of policy makers across the globe.” The U.S. State Department agrees. But such a reversal requires initiative by local governments and authorities. As Kara finds, “The absence of political will to enforce the law, as well as endemic corruption, allows trafficking and slavery to transpire in broad daylight.”

DURING OUR YEAR in Palau, several KTVs and massage parlors underwent investigation for prostitution and trafficking. Simultaneously, Palau’s Congress called for the resignation of an Attorney General who prioritized such cases—particularly once they implicated prominent government officials, law enforcement, and business owners. Each year, the U.S. State Department publishes a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, a threetiered ranking and evaluation


G overnment and media voic es insist sex t raf f ic k i

of foreign governments’ efforts to “comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” Each year, Palau ranks Tier 2, a common designation in the developing world, but unflattering for Palau, whose reputation for environmentalism, and reliance on international subsidies and elite tourism, necessitates a pristine global image. The 2014 TIP Report recognized Palau’s investigations and prosecutions, but concluded that the government “made no discernible efforts to address the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor.” For months, outraged politicians decried the report’s findings, attributing them to Attorney General Victoria Roe, an American, as if she had authored them. They condemned her for not defending Palau in response to the report. Unable to build consensus with her detractors, Roe resigned her post. Palau’s President, Tommy Remengesau, publicly commended and defended Roe’s work. But when the 2015 TIP Report again ranked Palau as Tier 2 (“official complicity plays a significant role in facilitating trafficking,” the report noted), history repeated. The loudest government and media voices denounced the report and the new Attorney General. They maintain that trafficking does not exist in Palau. “It’s sad,” a former government employee told me. “It’s a small enough place, it would be so easy


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to fix, and it would be such a benefit, if you could just address it.” In 2008 and 2009, Palau’s Supreme Court overturned the Carnival Four’s convictions. According to the U.S. Department of State report, “the court felt the foreign defendants had been offered insufficient translation services during the trials.” The case was never retried. “Since winning his appeal,” the DOS report adds, “one of the traffickers has re-opened the karaoke bar where he had previously exploited trafficking victims.”

THE FIRST TIME we visited our neighborhood KTV, it was nearly empty. A couple of locals sang gorgeously from the bar. A young bartender took occasional turns at the mic himself. Two women in miniskirts appeared to work pouring drinks and cueing up songs. This, my friends and I thought, was karaoke we could get behind. We sang a few rounds of Neil Diamond and Whitney Houston and exited at last call on what we thought was a pretty memorable version of “The Thong Song.” After that, we were regulars. The bar was quiet, we later learned, because “the girls” hadn’t arrived yet. Following a series of trafficking reports, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency had placed a moratorium on all flights to Palau for laborers. The moratorium was lifted in May 2014. The Girls—Chel among them—landed within a week.

When we turned up for a May birthday party, the building’s facade wore a fresh coat of white paint. The interior looked like a high school prom, renovated with silver wallpaper and neon lights. The once-empty bar was packed. I felt awkward wandering the red-lit hall with a tray of beer, looking for the room my friends had rented for the party. A few made-up girls rushed to block me when I reached for the wrong door. They escorted me across the hall, into a lounge with black faux-leather bench seats, a disco ball, and a giant KTV screen. Two friends—I’ll call them Maria and David—had rented the room. Like Chel and The Girls and most everyone we knew in Palau’s service industry, Maria and David came from the Philippines. They worked ten- or twelve-hour days at nearby restaurants, six or seven days a week, saving money for their families back home. They hadn’t had a vacation in years. But they didn’t complain. They felt grateful that, for the most part, their employers honored their contracts. Maria teased her younger sister that if they lost their jobs, they’d have to sell her off to be one of The Girls. Her sister frowned. Everyone laughed. At 11:30 pm, our Filipino friends had just gotten off work. Some started at six a.m. and would start at six again the next day. But that night, they were free. They ate and drank from a smörgåsbord that must have cost whole paychecks. They belted heartfelt ballads, disco and rock duets in English and Tagalog. Tonight, they danced and sang until dawn. I lingered in the doorway between The Girls in the hall and Maria, mic in hand. Maria was beautiful in a way that made people stop and stare when they meet her, but physically diminutive, bird-boned and sweet. She called everyone “Miss” and “Sir,” even her American friends, though we asked her a thousand times not to. Now, she became Alicia Keys. She had traded her work uniform, a tropical-themed sarong, for skinny jeans

and a white tank top, gripped the microphone with both hands, closed her eyes and sang, with soul, as if she meant it, This—girl—is—on—fire.

PALAU, OF COURSE, is only a blip on the trafficking map. The industry is overtly rampant in places like China and Thailand and covertly rampant in places like the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reports sex trafficking in America claims between 300,000 and 400,000 children annually. Demand spikes during our prized national pastime, the Super Bowl, which Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has called “the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.” In 2014, New York police busted a high-end prostitution ring that imported hundreds of girls for “party packs”—a cocaine-and-prostitute package deal for wealthy clients during Super Bowl weekend. And that’s the NFL. That’s high-profile, high-end, maybe even girls who get into the biz because they want to, who choose sex work from a variety of options. Think of the seedier tales, the unamplified stories we never hear about. Think of the millions of Chels washing up on foreign shores, day after day, wave-tossed and worn. IT’S HARD TO know what to do in the face of injustice at home, harder still when abroad, on culturally foreign turf. I kept thinking about Chel, insisting to Brian that we do something. But what? It didn’t matter how long we lived in Palau. If the Attorney General couldn’t stand up for her, what could we do? I decided, at the very least, to put my love for lowbrow aside and avoid KTVs. I didn’t know what went on behind those blocked doors, but I felt guilty by association, and a protest-by-boycott seemed the least I could do.

But a lifelong habit dies hard, and on a small island, boredom sets in like cabin fever. I went back a month later, then a month after that—just one song, my friends and I would say, one last time. Each time, I found Chel, or she found me. Sometimes we talked, and she told me about the places she’d lived and the people she missed and how she was counting the days until her contract ended, and I listened while my friends sang in the background. Once, she was so out of it when I walked in that she could barely focus. “How are you?” I asked. “Are those guys your friends?” she slurred, pointing to our table. “They’re cute.” She started to grind on me, to hike her dress, to grab the floor, but her legs kept buckling under her. “Are you okay?” I asked, lifting her off the ground. “I want to get out this place,” she mumbled in my ear. “I want to go home.” Then, as if suddenly remembering her place, she pulled away, dancing on me for the guys. I caught her before she fell over again, and her arms flopped like a rag-doll’s around my neck. “Chel,” I said, “are you okay?” But she was too dazed to answer. And what would I have done if she had said “no?” Gone to the authorities? “We were hired guns from off-island,” one former defense attorney in Palau told me. “The most we could do was advise and advocate and build teams and chip-in assistance and bridge resources, but we could never actually create and, critically, sustain any change ourselves.”

THE LAST TIME I saw Chel, it was to say goodbye. Brian and I were leaving. Our contract was up. Chel put on a pouty face and stamped her foot in protest, but then smiled broadly. “I’m jealous,” she said. “But I am happy for you. You go home now, see your family.”

Chel took my hand and led me to the bar. She pulled a piece of paper from the stack of song requests and scribbled. “My name,” she said, handing me the paper. “My real name.” Then, “Come on. I want to introduce you.” She led me to the vestibule where a dozen fresh-faced girls sat in a row, like pretty flowers in a window box. They wore glittering dresses and that familiar look of arrival—“the New Girls,” Chel explained, from China. One by one, she introduced me, and my mind connected the dots between the new Chinese-run hotels and dive shops going up, the anticipation of a 2015 spike in Chinese tourism. I tried to smile. I wished them luck. The KTV was busier than ever. The sweet bartender had been replaced by a man who glared when our group walked in for karaoke. A friend started wailing “Stairway to Heaven,” but we were “disturbing the private customers,” the bartender barked. He ordered the girls to kill the karaoke machine and to start a dance party instead. Madonna came over the speakers: “Tropical the island breeze, all of nature wild and free, this is where I long to be, la isla bonita.” The girls dutifully assumed the dance floor for an Electric-Slide-inspired routine. My friends and I gathered our things. “I have to go,” I told Chel. “I’m sorry.” She gave me a final hug, then linked her arm in mine and escorted me out the door. “Don’t forget me,” she said. “Promise.” I wished I had something to give her: money enough to get out of this place; a stairway to heaven; some evolved, future world where girls’ voices sound as loud as the rest, and women’s bodies were their own, and humans trafficked in kindness. What a paradise that would be. Until then, Chel remains for me as she was that night, waving in the rear view mirror, alone on the front steps of the KTV.

LEARN MORE Don’t stop here. Look up local, national, or international organizations to learn more about human trafficking, how to stop it, and how to support survivors. Some places to start: GEMS (founded by Rachel Lloyd, herself a survivor of sex trafficking), the Not For Sale Campaign, and UNICEF.


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y a d i l o H e d i u G Gift fe. in your li _ _ _ _ _ _ __ For the _ N by Curated TH WELLINGTO E B A IZ L E led by ed + Sty OW h p a r g to H Pho THOMAS SYDNEY




Serious art is born from serious play. – Julia Cameron










1. Amelia Runner from The Storied Table. $55 2. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. $24.95 3. Submersible Camera Case from Aquapac. $139.95 4. Indigo Blue Textile Kit from Yellow Owl Workshop. $30 5. Set of 4 Hilary Glasses from The Storied Table. $125 6. Lettermate from The Lettermate. $9.95 7. The Standard Notebook from Iron Curtain Press. $16 8. W Polu (In The Field) by Natalia Wrobel (2014). $200 9. Montana Mittens from Wool and the Gang. $62


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THE EXPLORER Curiosity is the one thing invincible in nature. – Freya Stark









1. Alpine Hat from Skida. $36 2. Giro Sport Design Block Goggles ($90) and Discord Helmet ($150) 3. Cloudpacks by Annie Temmink. $35 4. Thermoball Jacket from The North Face. $199 5. Backpacker Cologne from Juniper Ridge. $60 6. Toria Nubuck Shoe from Oliberté. $135 7. Merino Wool Ski Socks from Point6. $22.95 8. Retro Single Fin from Maine Surfers Union. $650

BEHOLD Artist Annie Temmink traveled the world learning about textiles, fashion, and fabric reuse, and has since been putting what she discovered to work. Her studio is filled with handmade inventions, like wearable clouds, plant-dyed bags, headdresses galore, and who knows what else. She’s someone to watch.

DISCOVER For women surfers, surf shops can be, well, not the most welcoming places. Not so at Maine Surfers Union in Portland, Maine. We haven’t found a better place to talk single fins, check out local gear, or just hang out. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it.



THE DREAMER Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. – Gloria Steinem










1. Sea Salt + Lavender Candle from Formulary55. $24 2 Live Your Dreams Print from Smock Paper. $20 3. Percale Pillowcases from Parachute. $50+ 4. Greycork Sofa. Ships in a box direct to your door. $550 5. Half Moon Earrings from Citizen Jane’s “Petroglyph” line. $48 6. Detox Bath Salts from Herbavore. $18 7. Rosehip + Clay Facial Mask and Oatmeal Facial Scrub from Formulary55. $8 apiece 8. Ultra Light Socks from Point6. $20.95 9. Wall Decal from Shanna Murray Illustrated. $26


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DISCOVER Way back when, we interviewed the design-mind behind Citizen Jane, Justina Soto. Get this: she melts down saxophones to make her pieces then molds them using an ancient sand casting method. Pretty sweet, and a nice layer of meaning if you’ve got a friend who plays in the brass section.



Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. – Ruth Reichl










1. Enamelware Outdoor Plates from GSI Outdoors. $6.95 2. Coffee Grinder from Cozyna. $29.90 3. Mikki Wood Board from The Storied Table. $72 4. My New Roots Cookbook by Sarah Britton. $29.99 5. Hibiscus Lavender Syrup from Raft. $20 6. Set of 12 Purple Ball Jars from Food52. $26 7. Odi Napkins from The Storied Table. $14.50 8. Percolator ($25.95) and Stainless Rim Cup ($5.25) from GSI Outdoors 9. The Poler Sandwich Maker from Poler Stuff. $52.95

SUPERFOOD SANDWICHES The other cookbook we’ve been drooling over is Superfood Sandwiches by Katie Chudy. It takes a simple concept and rocks it. “You get bread, condiment, and sandwich-insides recipes in one lovely compendium. This is a great resource for tips on spicing up a trail classic.

BEHOLD Jessie Blount, our food writer-in-residence and coffee aficionado, took this photo of GSI Outdoors’ sweet percolator set-up while on a coastal jaunt in the Pacific Northwest (secret location). That’s her version of a stamp of approval.



THE TRAVELER I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. – Susan Sontag










1. The Pearl Bag from Lo+Sons. $248 2. Fireside Scented Candle from Parachute. $24 3. Kayla Parka from Fjällräven. $750 4. Fantastic Face Wash from Ursa Major. $12+ 5. Logan Bike Trunk Bag from Po Campo. $79.99 6. Jungle #1 Postcard from Ghostxgirls. $3 7. Buckshot Pro from Outdoor Tech. $79.95 8. Olivia Turtleneck from Modern Citizen. $80 9. Camel Pullup Shoe from Oliberté. $50


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READ We reviewed the Buckshot Pro on the site because, well, it rules. Looks like a regular, old flashlight, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it!? Try a flashlight, strobe light, torch, charger, and bluetooth speaker, all-in-one light, bright, indestructible package. Great for biking, great for hiking.

BEHOLD Besides working on paper, Rachel Beckman is also an incredible textile artist and weaver. Visit her site, rachelbeckman.com, for all of your looming needs.


CABIN FEVER Some days you just can’t go outside. Some days you’re trapped. On those days, it’s best to take stock, re-evaluate, and read a book for once. Here are our suggestions for your wintry perusal of fiction, film, and T.V. By JESSICA C. MALORDY





dir. John Curran In 1977, Robyn Davidson crossed the western Australian desert on foot with four camels and her dog. Tracks is her story, starring Mia Wasikowska as Davidson, in a stellar performance that elevates the film well beyond biopic or travel flick. The film focuses on Davidson’s journey—its risks and rewards—and not her backstory (unlike, say, the similarly-premised Wild). Though this means we spend most of the movie alone with one woman and her animals amidst breathtaking but brutal landscapes, the payoff is extraordinary: a deeply-moving interrogation of why we seek adventure, and an unapologetic rendering of the way the world responds differently to women who break boundaries.

CREDIT Biegun Wschodni


Top of the Lake

dir. Jane Campion Top of the Lake is maybe most-quickly described as a feminist True Detective: equally creepy, complicated, and character-driven, and rife with New Zealand accents instead of the sounds of the bayou. But Top of the Lake is directed by the first female filmmaker to win the Palme D’Or, and it exceeds True Detective in its clear-eyed and complex portrayal of how sex, race, abuse, and power shape women’s lives. Filmed on location in New Zealand’s beautiful but haunting natural spaces, and starring Elisabeth Moss (aka Peggy from Mad Men) as a rookie detective who refuses to admit she may be in over her head, this show will keep you up at night—in a good way.

BINGE I recently watched all the episodes of Top of the Lake in one night. No sleep. No regrets. - Z.B.



Flet Joyelle McSweeney “You can’t drive to the coastline. You can only drive so close to the white chalky cliff and then you have to get out and dive.” So begins Flet, a post-apocalyptic novel by poet Joyelle McSweeney. The plot centers on a woman named Flet who flees her dystopian day job to drive literally off the map, in search of “the missing cities” evacuated after a harrowing “Emergency,” or “E-Day.” Come for the action, but stay for the writing: packed with infrared images and striking language, this razor-sharp work of speculative fiction is the perfect read for lovers of science fiction, poetry, road trips, or whiskey.

Almost Famous Women Megan Mayhew Bergman The power of Almost Famous Women lies not in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s ability to gather an ensemble, or even her willingness to spotlight women whose names we don’t recognize but guiltily wish we did. Instead these 13 short stories stay with you because they recognize how rarely history gives any woman her due, whether she becomes an almost-butnot-quite famous figure or remains on the fictional fringes, like the lovers, maids, and med students who serve as narrators. By depicting all kinds of adventurous women (in a collection that never feels uniform, despite its conceit) Almost Famous Women gives voice to the misadventuresome spirit in all of us.


mix // match


Cleverhood Rain Cape in Electric Gingham $249 Columbia Women’s Brilliant Reflection™ Spacedye Hoodie $90


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Headgear From the Past, Priceless


Kassia 2mm Long Arm Spring Wetsuit in Pink-Turquoise Tie-Dye $420


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Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Daypack $49 Kavu Rainier Rucksack in Heritage $80 Plant Dyed Circle Bag by Annie Temmink $35 Multicolor Circle Bag by Annie Temmink $35



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Outside to inside: Velocio Recon Hardshell Jacket $439 Giro Neo Rain Jacket $350 Women’s Flashback™ Windbreaker $60 Arc’teryx Gamma SL Hybrid Hoody $269 Terry Coldweather Tight $135

Women’s Barlow Pass 550 Turbodown™ Jacket $280



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Fieldnotes from A French Shepherdess’ Kitchen Simple, yes. Rustic, yes. Extraordinary, absolutely yes. By JESSIE BLOUNT

HE CALLED HERSELF une bergère, a shepherdess. Vivacious, quick to laugh, and standing at five foot two, Claire was a force. Four hundred sheep followed her to pasture every morning and to barn every night. They ate the grass she grew for them to eat. They ran to her when she yodeled. They stopped bleating when she touched their ears. In the hills that bridge the French Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, Claire and her CREDIT All photos by Jessie Blount

partner, Jean, have created a pastoral Garden of Eden: golden barley fields, low-hanging fruit trees, and wild mushroom forests. By stroke of pure luck I found myself there, on Claire and Jean’s farm, to learn sheep. I had dreamed about being a shepherdess since I saw Heidi when I was six years old and cajoled my mom into letting me wear braids and the feminine version of lederhosen. I have also always dreamed of going to France. When a break in

work gave me a couple months of freedom, I knew it was my chance to live out my shepherdess dreams. Claire agreed to give me a bed and meals in exchange for my help with the sheep. I quickly realized I was getting the better end of our deal; my compensation was no hard bread and old cheese. Most of what we ate came from the farm: warm brioche made with eggs laid that morning, a handful of currants from the bush next to the mailbox, stew


with fava beans that I had shucked while watching a farm cat bat around a rogue fava pod. Simple, yes. Rustic, yes. Extraordinary, absolutely yes. At the end of one particularly difficult day featuring a few misbehaving sheep, Claire told me to hop in her truck. We drove through the hills slowly. The air was crisp, and in the fading afternoon light we grew tranquil and quiet. Claire pulled off onto a dirt road and slowed. From our vantage point atop the hill, the Pyrenees loomed like blue-gray giants behind the patchwork of clay-tiled rooftops, barley fields, and clover pastures below. We parked. Claire tossed me a paper bag, a long stick she picked up from the ground, and told me to bring the pocket knife I used to cut twine for hay bails. “Suis-moi!” she said as she entered a decidedly overgrown thicket of hawthorn bushes. The purpose of the stick became immediately clear when an immense spiderweb enveloped my whole body. Claire pointed out our position on a north-facing slope, the


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Before I knew it, we had six pounds of mushrooms between us. fir trees, and the hawthorn.“Chez les girolles,” where chanterelles call home. “They grow in this forest; if you see something gold, it’s probably a chanterelle,” she told me. We set off, focused, eyes fastened to the ground. My first sighting turned out to be a bit of sun filtering through the trees. The second sighting was a mushroom-looking yellow leaf. But then I saw one. It was peeking out from fir needles under a fallen log. And two more to the left. Then a whole line of them. Before I knew it, we had six pounds of mushrooms between us. NOTE Omelet is the American spelling. Omelette is used most everywhere else, including France. Omlette (what we all thought it was) is used nowhere.

Dinner was a skillet of eggs and whole chanterelles. We lit candles; the sun was long set by the time we sat down. Claire split the omelet down the middle with the tip of her spatula and I tossed together a salad from the garden. In between bites, we tore off hunks of baguette and sipped buttery white wine. Claire brought out a round of sheep’s milk cheese and we sliced off thin shavings with our butter knives. We lingered over the wine and conversation until we couldn’t anymore. We didn’t have many sheep to count that night.

ILLUSTRATION by Julienne Alexander


According to Claire, one serves the traditional chanterelle omelet open-faced, not flipped in half or rolled. Herbs are optional; use only what you have on hand.

DIRECTIONS 1 Clean chanterelles with a pastry brush; if your chanterelles have lots of dirt on their stems, gently wash in cold water and allow to dry completely on towels.

Serves 1

2 In a large bowl, whisk egg and cream/milk until combined.

INGREDIENTS 1 tsp. grapeseed oil 1.5 ounces fresh chanterelles (equivalent to about 1 small handful) 1 large egg 1 Tbsp. heavy cream or milk 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter 1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon and/or fresh thyme Flake salt, to taste

3 Heat oil in a small, thick-bottomed skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and just begins to smoke, add completely dry, whole chanterelles to the pan. Cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add butter. 4 While the butter melts, whisk egg mixture quickly and vigorously. Tilt the bowl on its side and whisk in an arc to incorporate as much air as possible. 5 Return pan with chanterelles to medium heat and continue to whisk egg mixture until frothy bubbles appear but before the butter browns. Immediately add mixture to pan, turn heat to low, and cover. 6 Let omelet cook for 30 seconds, or until the egg mixture begins to firm, then remove from heat. Covered, allow omelet to set. 7 Finish omelet with fresh herbs and flaked salt. Serve immediately.



SOMERSAULT SOMERSAULT IS A five-day jamboree in North Devon, England, where “Somersaulters� combine the traditional activities of summer camp with a music festival. Highlights this year included evening forest parties, a secret bar, boutique camping, a bookstore inside a bus, loads of delicious food, an impromptu mud slide in the rain, campfires, surfing, trapeze and theater performances, and a slew of musicians: The Staves, Bombay Bicycle Club, Laura Marling, Passenger, Lucy Rose, and Angus & Julia Stone. Photography by MIKAELA HAMILTON


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Trim to fold the perfect plane.

Dream Plane Last night, I dreamed of confidently folding a paper airplane with clean lines. I have no recollection of ever making this plane in my life. I woke up and found a piece of paper. Closing my eyes to remember exactly what my dream-self did, I folded a plane on my first try and added a binder clip to the bottom. The moment of truth arrived. It flew straight as an arrow. The resurfacing of childhood memories? Divine inspiration? Who knows. All I can say is that it’s the best I’ve ever flown. Now you can make it, too. - M.C.

75 CREDIT Juskteez Vu

Trim to fold the perfect plane.


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