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Laikipia, Kenya Phone: +254 20 2115453 Email: info@borana.co.ke www.borana.com

Borana Lodge | Borana Conservancy | Laragai House

‘Travel to Conserve’

Image: Hollie Woodhouse


PUBLISHER + EDITOR + CREATIVE Hollie Woodhouse // hollie@sytamagazine.com COPY EDITOR Boo Woodhouse SALES + MARKETING Josh Deiss // josh@sytamagazine.com

FRONT COVER The Jungle's Neutral Page 12 Image: Beyond the Ultimate – Mikkel Beisner

BACK COVER Road Trips and Reverie Page 26 Image: Thomas Seear-Budd

www.sytamagazine.com Fwww.facebook.com/SayYestoAdventureMag :


Published by The Adventurous Kiwi Printed by Spectrum Print, Christchurch, New Zealand ISSN: 2422 8850 © Say Yes to Adventure. September 2016. All rights reserved. Nothing in whole or in part in the magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher and contributor. Say Yes to Adventure is a compilation of stories based around the epic experiences that come from the great outdoors. Therefore the views expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publisher. Although information presented in Say Yes to Adventure is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate and credible, authors may not be experts in the respective subject matter. DISTRIBUTION / SUBSCRIPTION / DIGITAL Say Yes to Adventure is an independently published magazine. It is available for purchase at selected newsagents, bookstores and airport stores or you can purchase it online at www.sytamagazine.com. Visit www.sytamagazine.com/stockists to find one near you. We are available for digital download via PressReader www.pressreader.com. CONTRIBUTION We collaborate with creative individuals from all over the globe. If you love adventure and have a story you’d like to share, simply send us an email; we would love to hear from you. Email hello@sytamagazine.com or visit www.sytamagazine.com/contributors for more information.




WWW.SYTAMAGAZINE.COM Available at selected Bookstores and Newsagents


To hell with happy endings you are here for the story






DIRT QUAKE Carey Haider




ROAD TRIPS AND REVERIE Thomas Seear-Budd and Talia Carlisle








#ATWILDWOMEN Amanda Sandlin






SON OF A BACH Taryn Bowler








CUBA Bas van Est






HIKING HALF DOME Michele Fairbairn

Image: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

LIFE-CHANGER 112 Oliver Bailey 118



thank you can easily say it was everything I imagined it would be, and more. Standing on Machu Picchu and watching the sun rise over the surrounding majestic mountains was mind-blowing, and something I won't forget in a hurry. Add to that mountain biking the infamous Death Road just outside of La Paz and creating crazy illusions on the Salt Plains, I had successfully ticked off three more items on my bucket list. It's not just me who has been ticking off 'must-do' adventures, either. Simon Rutherford opts for a different mode of transport as he kayaks around Vancouver Island in Canada on his way to a wedding. A few navigational errors and some unpredictable weather made for a month of amazing experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

IT WAS THE best and worst experience of my life, if that's possible? Never have the words 'One foot in front of the other' been truer, as I was hit with a gastro bug on the first three days of the Beyond the Ultimate Jungle Ultra. But I'd travelled too far to even entertain the idea of giving up, and as the terrain got harder, thankfully I got better. I was possibly the only person to finish the 230-kilometres in better physical condition than when I started. It turned out to be an experience like no other and a race that I would love to repeat again one day (minus the sickness). Sam Taylor, a member of our For Rangers team, gives an honest and entertaining insight into the five days in the jungle. Take a read on page 12.

Inspired by the words of John Muir, Michele Fairbairn set herself a goal, training for a year before climbing HalfDome, which sits at 2,695 metres in the Sierra Nevada mountains of the Yosemite National Park. She pushed past her mental limits and was rewarded with a life-changing experience, leaving her eager for the next adventure. Enjoy these and the other inspiring contributions in the pages that follow; a true celebration of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Happy adventuring,

I love to travel, and after surviving the Amazon I headed for a three-week trip through the rest of Peru and Bolivia with great friend and fellow running buddy, Jacqs Manson. After listening to my brother wax lyrical for years about his entertaining adventures from this part of the world, I couldn't wait to explore it for myself. It can be a dangerous thing when expectations are high, but I

Hollie Woodhouse Founder + Editor + Creative

hollie@sytamagazine.com www.holliewoodhouse.com



For Jack Walter Woodhouse This magazine could not have been possible without the amazing generosity of so many people. Special mention to everyone who has contributed their inspiring stories, images and illustrations. Also to those who always support me no matter what crazy idea I come up with next: Boo and Hamish Woodhouse (Mum and Dad), Flick and Sam Taylor, Ben Woodhouse and Gina Taylor, Daniel Fridd, Jacqueline Manson and Scott Waterman.


THE JUNGLE'S NEUTRAL WORDS: Sam Taylor IMAGES: Beyond the Ultimate / Mikkel Beisner LOCATION: Peru



“F*CK ME! THERE’S a tree here like a sea urchin!” I yelled as I slid, exhausted and out of control, down a muddy bank straight into a tree that looked like some medieval torture implement.

Before the Race

“What’s a sea urchin?” came the reply from an equally out-of-control Jacqs, sliding in behind me.

“The jungle’s neutral,” declared Pete, as we donned our packs and stood on the start line in the Cloud Forest, ready for the first day. Ryan, not accustomed to Pete’s nonsensical sayings, stupidly asked him to elaborate, “What does that mean?”

“It’s one of those spiky things in the sea – you Kiwi idiots eat them,” I called, now some ten yards further on, upside down with one leg caught in a tree root.

“It means it doesn’t take sides,” Pete said.

“Ahhh, you mean kina – yeah, it is just like that,” she replied, a little unnecessarily as she de-kebabbed her face from the same tree. “Hey Jamie, watch out, there’s a tree like a kina here!”

“It’s on every bloody side as far as I can see,” Ryan exclaimed, disentangling his enormous ears from a thorny vine some ten yards away. “It’ll be great!” said Keith with a happy look on his face, pausing while trying to remember the Latin name of the insect that was stinging him.

“What the f*ck is a kina?” “Just avoid it, Jamie, it bloody hurts!” I yelled, staggering on ahead. “Shit! You could have warned me! It’s like getting stabbed by a sea urchin,” squealed Jamie. “For f*ck’s sake Jamie, you bloody id…” my expletives were cut off as a bamboo shoot skewered my calf. “I’m done. Let’s get out of this jungle…” Now, you must forgive the language of this narrative, but this experience can’t be described without the foul words that accompanied us on more or less every step of the 230 kilometres of the jungle we had just dragged ourselves through. A year earlier, four of the For Rangers team had run the treacherous Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert. It was a brilliant experience – miserable at the time – but with an afterglow that lasted longer than the blisters on our tortured feet. The further into the past that experience got, the more nostalgic we became. So much so that we forgot the pain of the desert, persuading six more impressionable folk to accompany the For Rangers team and join us on our next adventure – a 230-kilometre, sixday ultra in the Peruvian Jungle.

Jamie was further ahead, angrily swatting at sandflies and squinting menacingly at the other competitors. “Let’s just get on with it!” And so we did.

Day One: Cloud Forest “Last year one of the top runners broke his ankle about four kilometres in,” informed Matt, with the smug look of a man who’d done his research. “Be careful on the first path down off the road,” he called nonchalantly before racing off and promptly spraining both ankles. We all followed behind and into some of the most beautiful country I’d ever seen. Crystal clear rivers surrounded by foliage of every shade and colour, quivering with butterflies the size of dinner plates. We had trotted into an Attenborough documentary. It was incredible and fair to say on the first 34 kilometres to Camp One only Hollie Woodhouse didn’t enjoy that day – a troubled tummy making even a runner with her determination, battle. Pete was in camp when I got in, under a barn-like structure helping untangle Harry’s hammock in a maze of other hammocks. “Never turn down shelter,” he warned. “Bugger that,” I said, “too many people in here. I’m putting mine


up there,” pointing to a large glade. Ten minutes later as a huge downpour started, I was lying in my hammock that now resembled a sinking life raft, eating soggy freeze-dried stew. It was going to be tougher than I thought.

Day Two: Amazonia “This muesli tastes funny,” moaned Harry, as he sat amongst the carnage of collapsed hammocks and wet gear. “It’s fusilli, you idiot,” said Ryan, leaning out of his hammock. “Oh crap – that’s my breakfast every day,” Harry said miserably, staring glumly at his hot pasta. “Today’s stage is called Amazonia,” announced Matt with authority, his swollen, sprained ankles in the air, looking like a weird illustration from a Karma Sutra guide. “We’ll be hitting real jungle now.” “What the hell have we just been running through, then?” said Jamie, who was clearly in a foul mood. His shoulders were feeling the effects of his decision to pack a carton of cigarettes and complete fishing tackle box. Matt was right. The forest became thicker. Hotter. More humid. Our already soaked kit clung to us like cling film. Spirits weren’t as buoyant as Day One, and we trotted and trudged from clearing to clearing to the next camp. Holly Winser was chipper, though. We had called her ‘Badger’ for no apparent reason other than it amused us and differentiated her from Hollie Woodhouse – who we subsequently named ‘Sheep’. “Gosh, this is such an adventure!” Holly Badger grinned, as though we were off to a picnic in Hyde Park. “Look at those leaf-cutter ants!” called out Keith from in front, “awesome.” “Christ! This is like the bloody Sound of Music. I’m off,” grumbled Jamie – ever the team player, breaking into a faster run and heading on alone.

We arrived to find him and Pete lying under their hammocks in a clearing in the forest. “There’s a stream over there. It’s awesome,” said Jamie, whose mood had lifted from his shoulders the moment his pack had done the same. And it was. We lounged around on warm rocks, dipping into deep fastflowing icy pools trying not to think of Day Three.

Day Three: Logging “It feels good to be ready early,” said Ryan smugly. “I’ve eaten, packed and strapped my feet. I’m free to relax for 20 minutes before we start. Gee, I even found it easy getting everything into my pack this morning.” We nodded and smiled, no one bothering to point out that he was sitting in his still-erect hammock. We lined up at the start of Day Three feeling pretty weary. Behind us, Ryan was frantically trying to squeeze his hammock into his pack. This was

meant to be a tough day. “This stage is called Logging,” Matt announced, still quite pleased with his prior research, despite his increasingly mangled feet. We dragged our tired bodies another 38 kilometres across muddy tracks, slogging through knee-deep swamp water. There was less chat now with just the occasional “y’alright?” followed by “yep”, interspersed between grunts. It was as close and muggy as a sauna in Bombay. Hollie Sheep’s tummy was playing up again. Matt’s feet were in real trouble, now covered in septic blisters brought about from limping. Ryan and Holly Badger both had messy feet too. Keith’s troublesome achilles was inflamed and red – not helped in the slightest by his weird collection of homoeopathic herbs. Jamie’s welts on his shoulders were giving him grief. Only Pete and Jacqs were still strong. “Jungle’s neutral!” he called from his hammock as we staggered and limped


into camp. “Jungle’s a prick,” muttered Jamie darkly.

Day Four: The Lull “Why do they call it a rainforest?” asked Harry, as we slopped around underneath our hammocks in the pouring rain, trying to squeeze our gear into our packs in the dark, ready for the fearsome ‘Lull’ – the penultimate, and apparently, most challenging day regarding terrain. We had decided to award Pete the ‘Baby of the Day’ award – a bib with a bizarre Batlama (a lama in Batman’s clothing) emblazoned on it. Jacqs got ‘Bitch of the Day’ – a dog finger puppet. These two received the unfortunate awards that we had bought in Cusco, partially because they were still fresh and strong, and partially because we were too tired to think of any witty reason to give them to anybody else. Jamie held ‘Cock of the Day’ (a phallic key ring), and had done so more or less from the start.

“This will be great!” grinned lunatic Pete, looking on at the rest of us trying desperately to huddle under shelter. It wasn’t. We slipped and slid for eight hours through bamboo forests, battling through rivers and dragging ourselves up impossibly steep hillsides. Early on, Pete slipped on a log, and I, right behind, made a valiant attempt to save his race number on his pack. I succeeded in my noble endeavour, but Pete sadly tumbled 15 feet into a gully, apparently trying to break his fall with his forehead. He clambered out looking a bit groggy and jogged on. I followed him, either too tired to enquire as to his health or to want to avoid another bonkers remark like, “You rest, you rust!” He was finally slowing, and more of the team caught up to him. As a group, we willed ourselves forward up the final hill. By this stage, Matt was in a bad way and walking like Gandalf after a prostate exam. There was little chat for the next five or so hours and we staggered into camp, (a research centre in the jungle) silent and

weary, strung up our hammocks and rolled into them, still covered in mud.

Day Five: The long One This was the end. The last day. All we had to do was complete 75 kilometres or so, and the ordeal was over. “You're concussed,” Jacqs unnecessarily pointed out to Pete. “No, I’m not”, he said, sliding off a flat bench onto the grass. “I’m fine. Neutral’s jungle!” I looked across at the rest of the group. Matt was lying on his back grimacing at his ruined feet. Harry was hobbling to get water for his morning fusilli. The bruised arches of his feet made him look like he was a very poorly prepared fire walker. Holly Badger was similarly tender, gingerly trying to put socks on without bending her swollen knee. Only Hollie Sheep seemed well. The Imodium-type side effects of freezedried adventure food had taken effect, and she was finally feeling herself again. Pete charged off like an escapee from an asylum, gibbering to trees and plants that he passed. The rest of us fell into


two groups; Keith was leading the walking wounded and the rest of us trudging on ahead. What followed was torturous. For hours we slogged through swamps and waded up never-ending rivers. “Let’s play a game to take our minds off it”, I suggested. “Come Dine with Me, anyone?” “Yep, I’ll go first”, shouted Hollie Sheep, with a lust for life that only someone just recovered from food poisoning can muster. “Stuffed peppers to start…” I looked at Jamie. He was getting angry again. The idea of stuffed peppers as a treat to take his mind off the jungle was clearly misguided. “…and slow roasted lamb,” she added. Jamie exploded. “What the hell?! How can you Kiwis murder good meat like that! You surround yourself with sheep and then cook the poor buggers for two weeks. Meat should be rare!” I could see the rage was building again and tried to placate him. “Ox tail!” I blurted out. Jamie

immediately calmed like a baby being handed a bottle. “That would be nice...,” he said, drifting off into a happy, culinary fantasy. The next 12 hours were an unhappy mixture of pain and exhaustion and ludicrous conversation, before finally staggering to the finish line in a small town to find Pete and beer. Both sights were a relief. “Where are Matt and the rest? Will they make it?” I asked the organisers. Only after several beers and some hot chips had I remembered that we still had men in the jungle. It was now 11pm. We had started at 5am. “They went through Checkpoint Five, but according to the medics, there’s no way Matt will make it.” Holly Badger and Harry limped in at 11:30pm.

Doubt he’ll make it. Fusilli anyone?” We waited and waited. Then we saw them. Keith was pushing what looked like an upright corpse, staggering inches at a time. Jamie whooped for joy and charged to meet them, hugging them both. “Well done you buggers! Awesome effort!” Matt looked bemused, “Is he concussed too?” “Did anyone notice the Macaws?” inquired Keith, as though 20 hours of pushing an immobile Matt was a nature stroll. It was 1:30am. We had all made it. Only 25 people finished the long stage, ten of which were the entire For Rangers team.

“What about Matt and Keith?” we asked.

As we got back into camp, I reflected on the team: one fractured skull (so it turned out), one case of septicaemia, one twisted knee, a bad case of food poisoning, 16 ruined feet, and an apparent spiritual experience by Jamie. Quite a scorecard.

“We left them two hours ago. Matt’s bad.

The jungle's neutral.

“Bloody hell, you guys, well done!” “I enjoyed that,” said an apparently delirious Harry


For Rangers are a dedicated group of individuals who are raising money for the welfare of rangers who risk their lives daily to protect Africa’s endangered species. Rather than just tell the story – the 'For Rangers' team hope that by taking part in some of the most challenging endurance events on the planet, they can draw attention not only to the plight of Africa’s wildlife and the poaching crisis, but the hardships and dangers the Rangers are exposed to in trying to protect our wildlife – and in doing so, raise funds that go directly to Rangers’ welfare. To find out how you can donate towards For Rangers, please visit www.forrangers.com/support-us. Sam Taylor is based in Kenya and heavily involved in the charity For Rangers. He has now completed two ultra-marathons while raising money and awareness for the Rangers, and is currently trying to convince his wife to let him compete in more. www.forrangers.com F www.facebook.com/ForRangers www.instagram.com/forrangers t www.twitter.com/ForRangers

DIRT QUAKE WORDS AND IMAGES: Carey Haider LOCATION: United States of America


As a young child, your parents would take you to the rodeo. Corn dogs dripping in the sun and clowns chasing victory were the highlights of every eight-year-old’s summer. Some of us grew up and had kids of our own. Others hit the thirty-teens and well, let’s just say we are still figuring it out. ONCE A SUMMER the quiet logging town of Castle Rock, Washington invites friends from ‘not so Donald Trump-friendly’ places, such as Portland and neighbouring towns to take part in a little event called Dirt Quake. On a given Friday, friends and families pack up their kidnapper vans and make the journey to camp out for a few days. The front gate looks like any other event; pay ten bucks and you’re in. What happens beyond the gate stays beyond the gate. Once the van doors open a college full of professional clowns start to spill out. Water has been replaced by Rainier beer; the food pyramid has turned into a gluttony of cheeseburgers and left over pizza from a mid-week late night episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As you can imagine, hydrating on alcohol starts to bring out the best friend in everyone.

As the sun sets, everyone has their mind on waking up and chasing the dragon of speed. Saturdays for some families mean taking the kids to soccer practice. Out here it means hoping the jalopy you brought starts, taking it down to the track to jump it higher than when Michael Jordan was in his prime. Everyone’s a winner here. Nowhere else in the world does racing look like Halloween meets Evil Knievel. As the sun starts to set and the races pick a champion, the look on everyone’s sunburnt faces slowly turns from a smile to a frown. It’s time to head home and go back to work on Monday. The motorcycles get pushed into the vans and the crumpled beer cans get thrown in the back, adorning the shagpile carpet like ornaments on a Christmas tree. You see the fleet scattered down the I-5 freeway driving below the speed limit on five cylinders and we reminisce


about how beautiful an experience the weekend was. During the following weeks you find yourself trolling garage sales looking for someone’s uncle’s motorcycle he had in 1978 to race next year. And here you have it – Dirt Quake is a lifestyle, an event that brings out the best and worst in us, but always leaves you wanting more. Until next year. Carey Haider is a Portland-born documentary photographer. He spends his time going into social and rural societies that most people won't, telling their story through settings and the community. www.instagram.com/careyquintonhaider

ROAD TRIPS AND REVERIE WORDS: Thomas Seear-Budd and Talia Carlisle IMAGES: Thomas Seear-Budd LOCATION: Australia


This year the last Defender will roll off the production line, marking an epochal point in global motoring history. Inspired by the Willys Jeep, the Series 1 was the beginning of the 67-year legacy of simple, well-built and incredibly robust machines manifesting a cult-like following across the globe with famous 'Landie' drivers including Fidel Castro, Sean Connery as James Bond, Ralph Lauren and Queen Elizabeth II. Today 75 percent of the two million Defenders produced since 1948 are still running, traversing deserts, forests and congested city streets. Thomas Seear-Budd and Talia Carlisle traverse Australia’s East Coast in a bid to discover what makes the Land Rover not only invincible, but addictive. I SLOWLY OPEN my eyes, locating myself from one dream to another. The soft morning light grazes our dewsoftened canvas shell. As I unzip each layer of our cocoon an influx of light floods the tent, the crisp morning air and birdsong of Australia’s plethora infiltrating our fortress. Opening the tent entirely reveals an aperture of rain-drenched green leaves and mosscovered trunks visible from inside our treetop retreat upon the roof of Zeus, our Land Rover Defender. Scampering wallaby patrol the damp earth below, rustling into the dew-trickled autumn leaves within Booderee National Park, south of Sydney.

Backtrack a few days, and I can still feel the tingling anticipation I felt when I took the wheel of Zeus for the first time and headed out of the heart of Sydney. Leaving the hustle and bustle behind, Zeus took us south along the coastal highway towards Melbourne. We wound our way around craggy cliffs, golden beaches, bridges suspended over the rocks, through pristine natural parks, spooky woodlands and wide open fields in a soft, dreamlike state. We would wake early, pack down the roof tent and wrap up warm before the autumn sun crested the ocean.


This became a ritual, to grab every second of the day, to eat breakfast at sunrise on a cliff face or the beach. The sun would bathe the rocks in orange while the ocean grew more and more turquoise in the morning light. The fresh coastal air awoke our minds, supplementing the warm coffee we’d brewed using our pull-out stove. This was a time of silence, a time to simply watch with our own eyes, or through the lens of our camera or drone, ours notably nicknamed Zeus II as it too is adventurous like a Land Rover, soaring high over the misty forests and bridges where we filmed. Road trips are for reverie, and this was certainly


are the vehicles of great adventures, ‘They catalysts of memories on the open road and times in the wild ’ .

delivering. With the flattening of light, we knew it was time to begin the day’s driving until the next scenic spot when another burst of elation would break us from our daydreams and force us off the road, camera in hand. The most profound of these moments was when driving across the border from New South Wales into Victoria. Trees had whizzed past us for the last 50 kilometres when we noticed the forest on our left side change dramatically. The lush green leaves turned to orange, and the rich brown trunks were suddenly black. We were witnessing the effects of a blazing bushfire and pulled over immediately to explore further. Stepping outside we were engulfed by a resounding silence. One side was a rusty red with burnt leaves and charcoaled trunks, while the forest on the opposite side of the road oozed with lush green forest and twittering bird noises. Why was one side green and not the other? Was it a controlled fire or accidental? I was hit by the eeriness of this former forest; a place where birds made their homes, mushrooms patterned the forest floor and winding roots plunged their way into the ground over thousands of years. The thriving forest was no more. The bird-life was non-existent. And the fresh, dew scent was replaced with the dry, smoky musk of fresh charcoal. Draped with cameras and a suitably eerie pale blanket to help set the scene, we clicked away in awe of the simplistic beauty. Often our experiences are conceived through the complete obsession and fascination with a particular place or landscape, but this adventure was noticeably different. The location and

landscape become secondary to the one element that made this trip a dream, the vehicle. In some ways, the country could have been any country and the road any road, but there was no substitute for our travelling companion Zeus – a Land Rover Defender 110 TD5. This is no ordinary vehicle. Zeus is customised for adventure with offroad wheels, a roof tent, fridge, stove, winch, spot lights and a strengthened hood. Every thoughtful element creates the liberating feeling of possibility, knowing that you can go anywhere and be self-sufficient. It’s fair to say that the Defender’s magic isn’t its speed, its comfort or even its dashing good looks, despite there being something magnetic about its iconic, simple and wellproportioned form. For us, what makes the Defender so enchanting is the lifestyle it embodies. It is the vehicle of great adventures, catalysts of memories on the open road and times in the wild. Simply seeing a Defender on my way to work would make me want to embark on an adventure – a road trip with friends, a bunch of cameras and great food. However, seeing the Defender would also be somewhat sobering. As of this year, the Defender’s time on our planet is numbered with news of their cessation in production. Despite being one of the most indestructible vehicles ever made, at some point the Defender as we know it will vanish. This ticking clock makes me even more intrigued by, and responsive to, their magnetic pull among other things. I have acquired in myself a fascination with aspects of our planet that are disappearing. The Greenland ice sheet,


glaciers of Iceland, towering forests and even photographic film. In some way, I seek to tell these stories and make the most of our last dying treasures that many have already experienced during their all too brief history, whether a hundred years old or thousands. At the end of the day, that’s what our trip with Zeus was about. It wasn’t about the sunrises and sunsets over cliffs, pristine beaches and rain drenched tree canopies. This trip was about realising a dream to take a Defender on the road; to take some time out and fully experience its magic. It was about telling its story, spreading the work and inspiring others to embark on their Defender adventure, create their memories and keep this iconic piece of our existence alive for as long as possible. Thomas Seear-Budd and Talia Carlisle are a fine-art photographer and journalist duo based in Wellington, New Zealand. Fascinated by isolated places, fragile landscapes and unique cultures, their latest work has taken them from the geographic centre of Iceland’s desert highlands to the exciting world of the Greenland Ice sheet. www.thomasseearbudd.com www.instagram.com/thomasseearbudd t www.twitter.com/thomasseearbudd

FOLLOWING PAGE: #atwildwoman – Amanda Sandlin is a graphic artist from the United States of America, and creator of #atwildwoman designs. She is currently exploring North America in her ‘97 minivan and lives by the philosophy ‘See the world. Create endlessly. Stay wild.’ www.amandasandlin.com www.instagram.com/amandsandlin t www.twitter.com/amandsandlin

PADDLING BRITISH COLUMBIA’S INSIDE PASSAGE WORDS: Simon Rutherford IMAGES: Simon Rutherford and Justin Coughlin LOCATION: Canada


“It’s not the common wolf that will harm you. Watch out for the ‘wolf-dog,’ a frightening hybrid of the wolf and domestic dog. Be very wary of camping alone here.” THIS IS THE warning I’m administered as I sit shivering on the dock of Duval Point Lodge at the north-eastern end of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. I’ve just paddled roughly 400 kilometres in eight days from Vancouver City. I’m tired, wet and cold and in desperate need of coffee. Thankfully the good folk at the lodge not only feed me caffeine and salmon but also let me sleep on their beach. Proper Canadian hospitality! Relieved to be leaving wolf-dog territory, I began heading into the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. Representing a quarter of all coastal temperate rainforest left on the planet, this thin strip of land and sea encompasses 6.4 million hectares, with an ecosystem that is home to towering trees, wolves, salmon, and grizzly bears, including the rare Kermode or Spirit Bear.

I’m not entirely sure why I’d even paddled this far up Vancouver Island, forcing myself to undertake the 30-kilometre journey to get back to the mainland. With an ominous forecast of gales, the trip was about to get serious, considering a fortnight ago the idea hadn’t even been conceived. I could have easily blamed listening to the words of a wise friend who had said, “Just go – planning is the death of a mission.” In reality, given that I had organised a month-long sea kayak trip in under five days, I was bound to make a few mistakes. Concentrating on making good decisions in this part of the journey was now going to be key to safely rounding Cape Caution and getting back to the sheltered waters of the passage. Setting off from Duval Point the rain and wind were hardly a promising omen. With the kayak laden with food


and 15 litres of water for the next 20 days she wasn’t exactly sitting high in the water. It was a relatively easy paddle out to God’s Pocket Marine Park, and there was little point in pushing the distances on this leg, as it was still far too windy to cross. Jacques Cousteau allegedly claimed that God’s Pocket has some of the ‘best cold water diving on the planet.’ All going to plan I wouldn’t be verifying those claims. The following morning dawned fine and breezy; I was up at 4am to make the most of what I hoped would be a windless morning. It wasn’t to be. I struggled with a side swell and winds for the entire crossing. With Shelter Bay to aim for, a shelter was exactly what I needed. Unfortunately, I made a small navigational error and hit the coast five kilometres up from Shelter Bay. However, at this point all I cared about was making it back to the

mainland and getting in position for Cape Caution. In his guidebook John Kimantas described one of his crossings around the cape as “Nine-metre swells complicated with huge rebound waves, my kayak almost airborne” and it was Captain Vancouver in 1793 who gave the cape its name. “This cape, from the dangerous navigation in its vicinity, I distinguished by the name of Cape Caution”. Needless to say, I was slightly concerned given the windy conditions. It’s interesting to have to make decisions in a solo situation. Over the last few days, I had quickly realised that not having anyone to bounce ideas off was challenging. The feeling of isolation and loneliness seemed only to be amplified as I sat in a sheltered cove praying that the weather gods would be smiling on me for the next few days. What ensued was almost dreamlike; from paddling in the thickest sea fog I have ever seen, to sitting on

a golden sandy beach watching a humpback whale feed outside the bay as the sun was setting. The paddle around the cape had a surreal feel to it, with rolling two-metre swells on an oily calm water surface. The sun rising illuminated a fine mist created by the crashing surf and gave an almost heavenly feel to the early morning. It was one of the most incredible moments on the ocean that I have ever experienced, coupled with the euphoric feeling of yesterday’s apprehension fading away. I felt truly blessed to be able to take in this wild and rugged part of the coastline in all its glory. Having crept past the sleeping giant that the cape represented, I still had a mighty distance to cover until the ultimate goal of reaching Prince Rupert and the wedding of a good friend. Once safely in Fitzhugh Sound, I made good time north, taking a detour to check out part of the Hakai Lúxvbálís (looks-bal-ease) Conservancy land of


the indigenous Heiltsuk people. During an arduous two weeks of nonstop paddling, I had been rewarded with some incredible moments; from being overtaken by a pod of whitesided dolphins, having orcas pass my camp, to watching bald eagles soar overhead. However, some relaxing time on the beach was on the cards, and it turned out I was in the right spot; Hakai could certainly claim to being the Hawaii of the Pacific north. The only regret was to not have more time to check out the surrounding areas of yet another amazing place. A few days before I left, a friend Justin had kindly given me his DeLorme GPS which can send text messages via satellite. I said I would sort him out some beers when I returned. He replied, “Nah, just let me join in for part of your trip!” Not really expecting him to commit to driving from the city to Vancouver Island then take the ferry to Bella Bella, a community on the central coast, I was

elated to receive a message from him saying he was hoping to be in Bella Bella on the 7th of June.  While waiting for Justin on the inbound ferry, I explored the surrounding areas. As I enjoyed the generous hospitality that always seems abundant in small isolated communities, it was a conversation over salmon and beers that peaked my curiosity. Campania Island – I had heard of this island but advice from a local that it was certainly worth a visit sealed the deal. We had to get out there; but only one small problem – time. This prompted some serious coffee drinking in the local café, which in turn landed us in a somewhat peculiar position. Less than 12 hours later Justin and I found ourselves, kayaks and all, on board a 40-foot yacht, the Jan Maarit, bound for Kodiac Island in Alaska, with skipper Jessica who had never sailed before. Perfect. Justin, having

arrived the previous evening had no idea of this hair-brained plan, as he followed me across to the boat at 3.45am in the dark and fog following a GPS that didn’t even show Bella Bella on it. I think he was wondering what on earth he had got himself into! However, this venture turned out to be one of the most convenient and hilarious moments of the trip. Jessica’s delivery captain had abandoned her en-route from Washington leaving her to fend for herself. When our paths crossed she was sleep-deprived and ready to make a spontaneous decision – adopting two mangy sea kayakers for company. We certainly didn’t add any more knowledge of sailing, and besides she was given strict instructions not to listen to a word we had to say regarding sailing a boat! Saving well over a day’s paddle, we were dropped off at the bottom end of Princess Royal Island and home of the Spirit Bear. While we didn’t manage


to spot one, we were provided with an incredible display of humpback whales feeding. It was amazing to be so close to these massive animals. The last week of paddling took us out to the fabled Campania Island, which didn’t disappoint. It is certainly the ShangriLa for sea kayaking with golden beaches and Mt Pender’s granite dome rising 740 metres from the ocean. To be alone for the first leg of the journey was special, but finishing it with a good friend was unreal. And just to let you know, I wouldn’t worry too much about the ‘wolf-dog’. I never did catch a glimpse; I think I was more terrified of the Stag Do I had just paddled to! Simon Rutherford is a Kiwi who has been rafting and kayaking around the world for the last ten years. He has a huge passion for anything to do with the outdoors.



Our bus pulled into the station in the city of Kalaw at 4am, an hour earlier than expected. The previous evening we had left the sweltering heat of Yangon wearing shorts and singlets, grossly underestimating how cold it would be when we arrived. I frantically searched through my pack for my jersey and jacket. The other international students and I camped outside Eagle Trekking Services, eagerly waiting for dawn to break and for our adventure to begin.


OUR GUIDE KEN, the ‘Trek Killer’, was an energetic young man of 22. We were a collection of backpackers from around the world setting off on a fourday expedition: Adam from the United States, Andy from Scotland, Sabine from Germany, and me from New Zealand. Our plan was to trek through 60 kilometres of rice farms, lush jungle, and slippery hillsides over three days, eventually finishing at the iconic Inle Lake – a low-lying lake formed from rainwater from the surrounding hills, most famous for the floating village of people who lived on the lake. As soon as the sun began inching across the blue sky, the frost lingering from the chilly night before had disappeared. We made our way out of the hustle and bustle of Kalaw, beginning the six-hour leg of day one, taken in by the whispering winds of an endless array of valleys. Each turn of the road brought about another smaller village. Each community we came across co-owned a plot of land that they tended, growing everything

Myanmar is famous for – rice, tea, and an array of spices. As we continued through the picturesque hillsides, Ken explained the many cultural norms of Myanmar, from the men’s preference for wearing longyi, an ankle-length cloth tied in a knot around the waist, to women’s use of thanaka, a natural bark-based sunscreen that has become a cultural icon for the southeast Asian country. Ken also elaborated on the differences among the tribes living in the region, including the Padaung, Danu, Pa-O Taung Yo, and Danaw peoples. We were astounded to discover that despite living within walking distance of each other, each tribe had their own language and could barely communicate with other tribes. Each village consisted of a cluster of basic homes, but teemed with life and colour, especially in the central market. We spent the night at a local tribesman’s house thanks to an arrangement between the trekking company and the villages along the route. Ken cooked a mixture of


Burmese dishes, including chicken fried rice, chicken curry, pumpkin soup, and freshly picked vegetables. We were treated to a performance by a travelling band that was collecting donations for the upcoming Fire Festival. The music from the ensemble broke the silence of the night and lulled us to sleep under a star-filled night sky. We slept on simple thin mattresses, shielded from the chilly night under blankets smelling of the charcoal fire burning in the kitchen below. The next morning, breakfast consisted of cornflour pancakes topped with local honey. With full bellies and a good night’s rest, we set off for the longest leg of our trek. As we descended the hillsides, angry-looking storm clouds rose over the valley. Rain quickly pummelled the dirt track, turning it into a river of red clay mud. The locals knew exactly where to step on the slippery path that was familiar to them, yet foreign to us. I stood in awe as they walked by, taking more solid footings that I had not noticed before.

Ken demonstrated how to master the sideways shuffle technique that the locals were using. Soon enough, we were making substantial progress, so much so that we were able to keep up with the local villagers. The hill eventually receded into flat pastures where we walked along abandoned railway tracks, remnants of Myanmar’s colonial legacy. The rain stopped in the afternoon and gave way to blue sky, providing a picturesque frame for the countryside. We walked through a colourful patchwork of flowers, corn, rice and wheat. At certain points, I noticed that the lush green pastures of Myanmar resembled the Canterbury Plains of home. Ken took great pride in pointing out Bodhi trees; the trees monks use to meditate under. Our home for the night was a village and a small monastery nestled in a hillside. After a hearty dinner of chicken broth, long bean curry and fish, we dozed off to sleep surrounded by the open air of the monastery, warm

and ready for our final day. The next morning, I was awoken before dawn by rooster crows and grunting of bulls. I took a few minutes to absorb the scene around me; the wondrous sight of the sun rising over the valley, spreading its rays over the fields of rice like honey on toast. There was a cool mist in the air as we started the day, lingering in an eerie mask over the track, blanketing the top of the hill. As we departed the village, the monastery caretaker gave each of us a customised walking stick carved from bamboo. He must have seen the knee-high splashed mud on each of our pants legs. The mist clung onto the intricate webs that were the home to spiders the size of mandarins. Ken made an eating gesture and said they are a delicacy in the region. No thanks. The walking stick proved a lifesaver as we traversed down the valley. The track descended into a slippery slope of polished rock and limestone. As I was looking down to find proper footing,


I didn’t notice that Inle Lake had come into view. It was a large expanse of cloudy turquoise, glittering in the afternoon sun. The lake was surrounded by hills on every side, providing a large catchment area. We could see fishermen bobbing in their wooden canoes and farmers tending to the surrounding fields using bull ploughs. An intricate canal network channelled water to the rice paddies. Not far from shore, there stood a cluster of homes raised above the water on stilts. A series of walkways connected the houses to a central school and Buddhist temple. This majestic sight was well worth the journey filled with mud, sweat, and spiders. Abbas Nazari is a student at the University of Canterbury. While on a semester abroad in Southeast Asia, Abbas and friends backpacked through Myanmar, a country that has recently been opened to the outside world. www.instagram.com/theabbasnazari t www.twitter.com/theabbasnazari


The frozen grass crunched beneath my feet as I moved around trying to find the best position to frame the view. The first rays of light were slowly sneaking their way over the snow-covered peaks in the distance, and the direction we were heading. Bare legs meant I didn’t hang around for long, quickly snapping a few images before racing back to the van for the final part of the journey. The excitement was building as I looked at the surrounding landscape, ready to tackle the new ‘must do’ adventure on the already-impressive tourist list of Peru.


THERE ARE THE obvious attractions that Peru is known for; Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, the many Inca Ruins and Lake Titicaca further south, but we’d already locked these in for a few weeks’ time. The game plan for Cusco was to spend the week relaxing and soaking up the culture, staying healthy (which also meant limiting the alcohol intake), daily yoga and morning runs exploring the streets. We wanted to be in the best shape possible before heading to the Amazon Jungle to compete in the Beyond the Ultimate Jungle Ultra. You only had to walk the central streets of Cusco to figure out what was popular with the tourists, as business operators did their best to sell you everything from adventurous day excursions to massages at “Special price only for you pretty ladies.” It didn’t take us long to become curious about Rainbow Mountain though, a one-day hike from Cusco, hidden deep in the Andes Mountains. Sitting at 5,035 metres (16,520 feet) we were warned to wait at least three days once arriving in

Cusco to help with the acclimatisation. After some research online, we settled on Action Peru Treks to guide us on our mid-week mission. After a three-course breakfast and too much coffee in our pop-up tent, we were itching to get moving and not just because the sun still hadn’t reached us at the bottom of the valley. We were a group of seven for the day; Sabi our guide, Santos our ‘cowboy’ and his horse, Francisco and Rosario our chefs, Hilario Dias, an Inca Shaman who we would eventually leave at the top, my travel buddy Jacqs Manson and me. Finally, we were off ! With a 1,000-metre climb ahead of us, it definitely wasn’t a race. We knew fitness wasn’t going be an issue but had heard stories about the effects of altitude so we just cruised along at a steady pace, taking in the beautiful surroundings and learning as much as our limited Spanish would allow. Slowly we gained altitude, passing basic stone dwellings, which were home to the Quechua people, believed to be


direct descendants of the Incas. These people continue to live as their ancestors had centuries ago, with very few influences from the modern world. We shuddered at the thought of sleeping in these houses overnight as temperatures dropped well below freezing; one of the many times during our trip when we were thankful for living in the modern world. We were assured the introduction of Rainbow Mountain as a tourist attraction was a good thing, providing an extra source of income for the locals who until now had relied on the land as their primary source. They farm alpacas and llamas, using every part of the animal to enable them to survive in this harsh climate. The wool is used for clothes, hides are used for sandals, the meat is eaten, and the faeces are fuel and fertiliser. We were only too happy to pay a few Peruvian Sols for their bathrooms too (even if they were long-drops) and Sabi informed us our cowboy had travelled by foot for a couple of hours that morning to join us for the day, earning extra income to support his wife and children.

About two-thirds of the way up I could feel the burn not only in my legs, but also my lungs. Sweat was appearing on my forehead as I called for a quick break to regroup and refuel. I was feeling OK, but the altitude was letting me know I was no longer at the sealevel I was used to at home. We passed other hikers and they passed us, but slowly the top came into view. We left our cowboy and his horse on the last flat section available, and as the terrain became steeper, the landscape became more surreal. The intense colours of neon reds, electric yellows, and soft blues now surrounded us, created by the different minerals found in the soil. It was as though it shouldn’t exist in reality – a world that until now I had only imagined in the pages of Dr Suess. We stood in silence soaking up the surroundings, not quite able to believe this was real life, before making the last push to the top. The 360-degree view was well worth the effort, even if we had to wait our turn to take images without another tourist in the frame. However, the wind kept the

temperature in the low single-digits, and it wasn’t long before we headed back down slightly to keep warm. We were leaving our Shaman at the top, who was then carrying on to his village a few valleys over. Using our guide as the translator, we were told he wanted to give us a blessing to protect us on our future travels. In the Andean traditions of Peru, a Despacho is a ceremonial offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the Apus (Mountain Spirits). The intention behind a Despacho Ceremony can range from something as noble as world peace to an offering of thanks for a bountiful harvest, or even something as personal as relief from joint pain. We escaped the rest of the tourists and followed a goat track around the side, stopping behind the mountain on our left. Crouching down on the snow and using the rock as protection from the wind, we sat mesmerised watching our Shaman set about preparing this ritual. It involved gathering a selection of symbolic offerings, which included incense, maize, boiled lollies, beads


and flower petals that he’d carried up with him. Each item was placed on a large sheet of paper with great care and attention, arranged in a mandala-like shape. Prayers were blown into small bundles of coca leaves and added to the offering as well. Building up the Despacho took some time, and we watched patiently as he continued his ritual and prayers before we were invited, one at a time, to do the same. The leaves were handed to us after they had been blessed, then it was our turn. It’s an opportunity to focus on areas of your life where you feel you need support or you can simply just ask for a blessing. I do not consider myself a spiritual person by any means, but the experience was incredibly powerful and the enormity of the moment was not lost on me. After handing the coca leaves back, the mandala was complete, and the bundle folded, closed and tied up. Finally, it was then ceremoniously burned while we turned our backs to the fire to allow the spirits to ‘eat’ the offering in peace. The incense took the prayers up to the Mountain Spirits,

leaving any heavy energy behind as ash for Pachamama to consume and compost, transforming into fertile ground for new endeavours.

was the headache or the intense scent of the cloves in the medicine that was making my eyes water, but I did know I wasn’t in a good place.

It was now time to leave our Shaman and begin the journey back down the valley towards the van, retracing our steps and collecting our cowboy on the way. It was a relief to be heading back as I was starting to feel a bit average, with a dull ache making itself known in the back of my head. I told myself I just needed to lose some altitude and I’d come right. I’d been above 5,000 metres before and been fine, plus I was so fit and healthy, right? Surely altitude sickness wouldn’t affect me. Wrong. So very wrong.

And it only got worse. I finally arrived at the tent where we had had breakfast and sat down to another three-course meal, this time, late lunch. I managed to force down some vegetable soup, but that was the best I could do, opting to head outside and curl up in the foetal position in the sun. Another round of Agua Florida was on the menu instead, offering only a small moment of reprieve. All I wanted was to go home but our tour included lunch, which along with breakfast were the only jobs for our chefs for the entire day. Luckily Jacqs stepped up and forced down as much as she could to be polite, while I lay motionless on the grass outside.

Boom! By the time I was two-thirds of the way down, the dull ache had turned into a serious headache, even with the help of some Agua Florida (flower water), a liquid herbal medicine that our guide had poured into his hands, then made me inhale deep breaths of through my nostrils. I wasn’t sure if it

After what seemed like an eternity I heard our guide suggest it was time to get on the road. Finally, just get me out of here. If this is what a migraine is like, I honestly don’t know how


people make it through. I shuffled my way to the van and lay face down like a starfish while everyone else packed the equipment away around me. While in these situations I always think the worst, but our guide didn’t seem fazed at all, obviously having seen it many times before. I wasn’t too sure if that was comforting or not. Slowly the wheels beneath me started to turn, and we were on our way back to Cusco. My eyes were closed, and I couldn’t even reply to Jacqs when she tried talking to me. What a shit travel buddy I was. But she did rub my temples, and I did my best to inform her that what she was doing was heaven. All too quickly we stopped, having been on the move for a maximum of five minutes. There was a lot of Spanish being spoken, of which I understood zero. After a period with still no movement, I forced one eye open to see a group of Peruvians in the middle of the road. What the heck? I turned to Jacqs, who looked at me

with a sheepish smile, “We just have to wait here for a bit while they pour the concrete for the road.” Yes, for real. They were making the road right in front of us.

felt many eyes burning into my back as each vehicle behind us slowly made its way past.

Because Rainbow Mountain was a brand new tourist attraction, with tours only really starting within the last few months, the infrastructure wasn’t quite ready for the number of vehicles now heading up the road. I could only laugh. Because the only other option was to cry, and that was no use to anyone. Peru at its best.

After some big deep breaths I slowly got back in the vehicle and thankfully there were no more stops. My eyes were firmly closed, but I heard every gasp and swearword that escaped Jacqs mouth as we went far too close to the cliff edge, or were overtaken by vehicles on a road clearly not made for passing. I’d been previously warned about these roads; maybe it was a good thing I couldn’t open my eyes!

With a convoy of vehicles now behind us, we started to move and carry on our way, but again it wasn’t long until we came across another group of road workers, this time placing a culvert across a ditch. At this stage, I didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha, but I did recognise that taste in my mouth just before I spew. I jumped out the door, not caring in the slightest as I

I had my Suunto watch on, which informed me we were at 4,353 metres when I’d dragged myself into the van. Fixated on the numbers, I watched them slowly decrease as we made our way down the valley floor, dropping more than 1,000 metres over the following hour. The intense piercing in my skull was slowly subsiding. Maybe I was going to survive after all.


The next thing I knew I awoke to darkness and city lights, a solid hourand-a-half sleep later and we’d arrived at the outskirts of Cusco. The headache had downgraded back to a dull thud, and I could finally join in on the conversation that Jacqs was having with the rest of the crew. What a day, for the best and worst reasons. But don’t let my sickness put you off, if you find yourselves in Cusco looking for an adventure, then make sure Rainbow Mountain is on your list. Hollie Woodhouse is based in Christchurch, New Zealand, but is always day-dreaming about her next adventure. She is the queen at justifying reasons to travel to new places, so she can create more content for this magazine! www.holliewoodhouse.com F www.facebook.com/theadventurouskiwi www.instagram.com/holliewoodhouse


It’s 4.30am in Mexico City. Here we are, on the corner of an intersection directly beneath the window of a friend’s apartment, stretching the phone to the sky in search of wifi while waiting for our Uber. After a clammy-hand flight on a local airline, I am standing in front of a Cuban immigration officer who casts a slight frown on yet another bright-eyed gringo, fizzing to experience Cuba before it all ‘changes’.


AS I PERSIST in continuing the conversation in Spanish, despite the dialect being unexpectedly strong, her facial expression changed from a frown to a faint smile, “Bienvenido a Cuba señor” – Welcome to Cuba Sir. Our pre-arranged accommodation and airport pickup with Julio was booked in such casual fashion that we were half preparing to be taking a lucky dip out of the sea of hustling cab drivers at the arrival gate. However, Julio was extremely serious about his business, and was there with his cousin bang on time for our collection. As our pictureperfect dreamy green Chevrolet Bell Air Taxi pulled up, so did a wornout white Lada scattered with serial numbers, though missing the word ‘Policia’. As we packed the last of our luggage into the trunk, the police officer got out of the Lada and made her way over. We witnessed a ten-minute argument through the window of the back seat before the driver headed back to her car. Julio and his cousin got back in our car and we finally set off for Havana Vieja (Old Town Havana).

According to Julio, the police officer had no grounds for holding them up. “She asked me why I also have my cousin at the airport to pick you up. He’s my cousin, why can he not be here?” he answers. “You see this, my country always making it hard for us.” Was the police officer looking out for us tourists? Or was this a sign that not everyone in Cuba is welcoming the recent influx of gringos after talks of the US trade embargo being lifted. The drive from the airport to our accommodation was incredible. Zigzagging through the best-looking traffic I had ever been in; the windows were down and new smells and sounds billowed through the car. I was reserved about using either of my cameras at this stage but the first sights of dusty streets packed with people, cars and karts are still etched in my memory. After navigating through masses of people in the side streets of old Havana, we arrived at our Airbnb destination, Casa Caracol on Cristo Street. The street is about 100 metres from end to end with four-storey houses lining


both sides. The bottom floors of most houses look as if they were made to withstand a stampede. Inside the high arches of the colonial construction were smaller panels making up windows and doorways reinforced with steel bars. The next floors up were lined with an abundance of washing blowing in the humid evening breeze. The buildings appeared to be relatively untouched and still have some of the old balconies and colonial decorations intact. Only an hour after our arrival we insisted on getting as close as possible to a local’s experience, and what better way than through authentic Cuban street food. After a few weeks of Mexican street food and budget accommodation, we felt our tummies were well-seasoned for some local Cuban food. We asked Julio if he could help us find a place where the locals would go for dinner. Julio wasn’t entirely sure how to suit this need, but he took us to a place down a typical residential street where a few people were hanging outside of

what looked like someone’s front door. Next to the front door was a window, which had a small piece of cardboard stuck to the steel bars with tonight’s menu written in ball-pen. A touch sceptical, yet keen to try, we contemplated our options. We asked Julio what he would eat as we glanced at those already eating. He quickly offered advice, “I don’t think you should eat here. Not good for the stomach.” We decided to venture further and were being guided into yet another local joint, this time down a dark alley and up some poorly lit stairs, with the smell of urine lingering in the draft. We barely knew our guide, which came with the obvious reservations about his intentions, but I can say we got what we asked for. After some back-and-forth with the kitchen whether the vegetables and salad were washed with fresh water (bloody gringos), we were served an entire fish with a side of beans, rice and salad. We heard from other travellers that the Cuban food was not something you would go back for and after a few weeks in Mexico our pallets had been spoiled. Nonetheless, the experience and setting made up for the lack of flavours and since we were hungry and didn’t want to insult

anyone, we cleaned it up to the last grain of rice. I kept wondering what I should do or how I should look to make it more acceptable to get real life portraits of everyday Cuban people. A lanky fair skin Dutchman with strawberry blond hair stood out like a sore thumb and fitted the tourist profile perfectly, yet I wanted to try to show as much respect as possible to those in front of the lens. Along the busy streets, there were people kitted out in the classic hat, suit and cigar combo specifically for tourists to take photos for a small fee. Something which I was not interested in at all. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with giving someone a few of coins for permission to take their photo as they have no control over what happens with their photo afterwards. But I like my portraits to represent the actual being of the person in the picture and not an image fabricated to quench the thirsty tourist DSLR. Speaking of trigger happy, I was also several gigabytes deep in the first few days of our Havana adventure; Che Guevara’s house, classic cars, Caribbean beaches and more classic cars. I couldn’t get enough of the cars in particular.


For the last few days of our stay, I put my digital camera down and picked up my much less conspicuous Minolta film camera. After asking Julio for a few additional streetwise tips and do’s and don’ts we began exploring further away from the tourist tracks, into the back streets of old Havana. I’m constantly torn between shooting digital over film, but I’m glad I favoured the latter for the last few days of Cuba. I thought the medium suited the content and with a much smaller camera I was more confident approaching people, and consequently, they were less apprehensive. Not everyone I approached allowed me to take their photo, but of the ones I did, none asked for money. I think I will find myself returning sooner rather than later. I’ve left some unfinished projects behind which I can’t stop thinking about. I just hope the ‘change’ between now and then is gradual, and not catastrophic. Bas van Est is a professional photographer from New Zealand. Outside of the city hustle he spends most of his time seeking coastal adventures around New Zealand and abroad. www.basvanest.com F www.facebook.com/vanestphotography www.instagram.com/basvanest

Always find a reason to laugh. It may not add years to your life but it will surely add life to your years.



I am not a rock climber, but I love adventure and physical activities. When I went to visit my friend who was spending a year in Montana, USA, for Spring Break, I had no doubt we would be going on some awesome missions. Rock climbing is something I am relatively new to, having done it once before when I was in England, but this was going to be different. We were going on a road trip and there had been talk of heading west to the coast or possibly south to the desert. I was here for the adventure, hoping to capture some images along the way. BEFORE I KNEW it, I was in the middle of a climbers’ paradise in Southern Utah with a team of great people who were keen to do some serious climbing. Our first stop was Castle Valley outside of Moab, Utah and my mouth remained open for the majority of the day, just staring at the landscape around me. Massive pillars of red sandstone rose 400-foot in front of me and stood proud, looking over the arid and impressive landscape. The scale of the place was like nothing I had ever seen before. We were at the base of Castleton Tower and had set off on a hike that was planned to end at Fisher Towers in two week's time. We could see our final destination only ten kilometres away, but between us and

the finish were hundreds of canyons and cliffs of various sizes that we were going to have to navigate. We had to judge whether it was best to follow a wash around numerous bends or climb over crumbling ridges to travel as the crow flies. Sometimes this was impossible, so we combined both and made decisions as we came across more and more interesting rock formations. It was slow going but with a view this impressive we didn’t mind. We only had to look up to see the Castleton Tower and the Rectory bearing down upon us. Occasionally we would catch a glimpse of something moving on one of these goliaths, and on closer inspection, it would turn out to be a climber,


tiny and clinging onto the rock face, dwarfed by the size of these towers. After a solid day’s hike we were about halfway to our destination and decided to make camp by a huge boulder that had once been part of the cliff that rose up next to it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that when it fell many years ago, they would have heard it in neighbouring states. Being with a group of climbers meant that as soon as the packs were dropped off we immediately started inspecting the boulder for routes to the top. There was a crack down the middle that split the entire boulder in two. It was a relatively easy chimney climb, and we were all on top in moments.

But climbing is all about challenging yourself and so, having ticked it off via the most obvious route, we then searched and found alternate ways to reach the top. We were circling an enormous rock looking for handholds and footholds, in a truly wild location in the middle of the desert with the sun going down, turning the already-red rock a burning crimson. Far removed from everyday technology and not a care in the world, it was one of the most magical experiences of my life. Since starting the trip, I was excited at the prospect of climbing a desert tower. Our time on the boulder had been amazing, but it was just bouldering. No harnesses were needed because if you fell you were only a few metres above the ground, so reasonably safe. Our final location, the Fisher Towers, was made up of a collection of tall, sandstone columns, perfect for doing some serious climbing. Naturally, with

it being my first multi-pitch climb, we decided to do it at night. The things we do for adventure. You could feel the excitement in camp. I was feeling a lot more than just excitement; paranoia, nausea and fear. But we had come all this way and I was committed. We set about coiling ropes, checking helmets and counting carabiners and as the sun was setting we started our approach towards the towers. The tower we were heading for was called Ancient Art – four pitches long and 400-feet high. By the time we arrived at the bottom and had sorted out our kit it was dark, so we turned on our head torches to see where we were going. There were seven of us in total and I was climbing last. As I watched everyone before me, I could see the small beams of light getting smaller and smaller as they climbed higher and higher. The first couple of pitches were relatively straightforward with a chimney crack that was good fun,


squeezing my body against the rock on either side and wriggling my way up. The third pitch was impressive, not many holds and a 400-foot drop either side and as I left the main body of rock, the climb quickly turned into a tower. The main reason Ancient Art is a popular climb is because of the final pitch, aptly named ‘The Corkscrew’ as that is exactly what it looks like. The sandstone rises and twists around itself in a spiral, making climbing quite tricky. As my first multi-pitch climb, I was happy to finish at the top of the third pitch, but that didn’t mean that I could go down. I was tied in and hanging off the edge of the tower with a 400-foot drop below me ready to belay my friend Aidan. The darkness helped my nerves and all I could see was a big black void, making it easier to ignore the fact that if I fell I wouldn’t hit the ground for quite a while. To start the fourth pitch Aidan had to shuffle along a walkway about a foot wide, something you

would do with your eyes closed if on the ground, but it takes a little longer when either side of you is a black abyss. The next step was getting onto the diving board. There were no handholds or footholds, so you had to belly-flop onto a platform and shuffle around, a bit like a seal. I was happy with my choice to observe from where I was. Aidan then passed these stages and disappeared around the back of the corkscrew, reappearing slowly before making his way to the spire on the top. He tied in and sat on top of a bizarre piece of rock and looked up. The moon back-lighted him and the tower, and his head torch became one of the thousands of lights in the sea of stars above our heads. It was simultaneously the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I have done in my life to date. Climbing the tower was amazing, and having done so meant that I had nothing to worry about. It had given me a taste of what climbing was about. When we arrived at our final destination of Indian Creek, we were

excited about what was to come. The mecca of crack climbing, it’s a valley surrounded for miles on all sides by walls of vertical rock 300-foot high, with cracks of varying sizes running the entire way up. Being in the desert meant we didn’t need tents. Everyone would find a nice spot to sleep and roll out their mat and sleeping bag, depending on where the sun would rise and where the best view of the stars would be. After waking up in this incredible place, followed by a hearty breakfast, the team would begin taping their hands excessively, allowing them to wedge into cracks and get enough purchase to pull themselves up. We spent our remaining days finding new walls to climb, taking enough water, ropes and a rock climbing guide book with us. Some were only wide enough to fit your fingers in, while others were big enough to fit your entire body. Either way, they would shoot up the rock face for hundreds of feet. You aren’t allowed to put bolts into the rock at Indian Creek so it was


trad climbing, meaning we had to use our own gear. Occasionally there were chains at the top of the climbs to clip into, but until we were at the top we had to have absolute confidence that the cams we had placed would hold if we fell. While I am new to climbing, I am confident with a camera, so I’d watch and take photos of my friends climbing some of craziest routes I have ever seen. Wedging their hands into cracks again and again, with the backdrop of the Utah desert, is something I’ll never forget. Sam Gore is a 21-year-old adventurer who travels the world photographing and writing about his experiences. He's based in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, where he studied Marine and Natural History Photography. www.samgorephoto.com www.instagram.com/samgore94

Renny the Rhino and Gabi the Giraffe: Kristen Raper is an illustrator based in Australia. She runs KPR Designs, a boutique illustration space specialising in hand-drawn illustrations, stationery, custom work and paper goods. www.kprdesigns.com.au F www.facebook.com/KPRdesigns www.instagram.com/kprdesigns


HIKING HALF DOME WORDS AND IMAGES: Michele Fairbairn LOCATION: United States of America


“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.” – John Muir I LOVE WALKING up a real mountain. For me, it’s a type of meditation. I have to focus my attention on my footing and everything else naturally falls away. The view from the top; knowing you got there under your own steam is so rewarding. Walking up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park was (and I believe will remain) one of my proudest accomplishments. The Sierra Nevada mountains had been calling me for years. John Muir’s words had touched me, and I wanted to see his ‘Range of Light’ in person. However, I feel I need to explain, I am not a natural mountain climber. I wasn’t gifted with great balance, endurance or strength. So to get to the top of Half Dome (and enjoy the experience), I trained for over a year,

spending hours in the gym and walking in New Zealand’s hills and mountains. To walk up Half Dome you need a permit, and these can only be obtained by entering the preseason lottery (applications need to be submitted by March) or by winning a daily lottery. The lottery was established by the National Park Service to prevent dangerous overcrowding on the last section of the ascent: the dreaded steel cables. The National Park Service advises that few people have fallen and died on the cables since 1919. However, injuries are not uncommon. The cables themselves are most dangerous when the granite (which has been polished by years of boots) is wet, and when thunderstorms are in the area. As one of the highest peaks around, and with


steel cables mounted on its back, Half Dome often gets struck by lightning, which poses a risk to those trying to both ascend and descend. Knowing of the risks involved, I simply told my mother I intended to enter the lottery to do a walk, only later telling her that the walk was up Half Dome. Of course, Mum immediately googled ‘Half Dome’, which resulted in me receiving an email of maternal panic peppered with some good motherly advice, “Everyone in the photos is wearing gloves – have you bought good gloves yet?” To keep our families calm, we decided to hire a guide. The Yosemite Mountaineering School offers this service, however, ensure you get a permit for your guide too as well as all members of your party. Walking from Yosemite Valley up

Half Dome is between 22 kilometres (via the Mist Trail) and 26 kilometres (via the John Muir Trail), gaining 1,600 metres in elevation. The average walking time is 12 hours, but you can hike it over two days by camping in Little Yosemite Valley, although the real bragging rights belong to those who complete it in the same day.

been relatively warm in Yosemite and the day we walked it was 33°C. My husband (Chris) and I carried six litres of water with us and equipment to purify more. Our early start meant that the beginning of our walk was cool, enjoying the cold mist from Vernal Falls (on the Mist Trail) before it got too hot.

The day before our walk we stopped by Glacier Point for the iconic views of Yosemite. From here I saw Half Dome in person for the first time, and the very route we’d be taking with both Nevada and Vernal Falls visible. Seeing just how big Half Dome was and the distances between the valley, the two waterfalls and the mountain, caused my anxiety levels to spike. Had I trained enough? Could I do this? I was so grateful for my mother’s panic as there was great comfort in knowing we’d have a guide with us on the next day’s adventure.

After arriving at the top of Nevada Falls the track winds its way through Little Yosemite Valley. On this section of the trail, which is sandy and relatively flat, the temperature was starting to soar. Scott encouraged us to enjoy the flat section of the track while we could as we would be climbing again soon enough.

We started walking at 6.20am from the Mountaineering School where we met our lovely guide, Scott. It had

While travelling in the Sierra Nevada mountains, I’d struggled to identify the trees in the forests we were walking through. I mentioned this to Scott who was incredibly knowledgeable, and he taught us a lot about what we were seeing. A highlight was the introduction to the Jeffrey pine and its


vanilla-scented bark. At this point, we were halfway through our ascent so even though the blister I’d developed the day before was beginning to bother me, my determination remained firm. However, the switchbacks of the sub-dome were looming, and I was dreading them. We stopped for a snack and drinks break in the shade of the forest before emerging at the base of the sub-dome. The switchbacks were hard. They consisted of stairs which are uneven and at 2,438 metres the air is noticeably thinner, making this section challenging. Even with all my preparation I had to stop every five minutes to catch my breath, apologising to Scott and Chris – until I realised all of the others walking this section of the track also needed to stop, most more frequently than me. At last, I looked up and could see the steel cables in front of me – all 121 metres of them! Scott’s advice was just

to focus on placing one foot in front of the other (just like many things in life), and only stop at the 2x4 planks. Courtesy rules apply at the cables with everyone being surprisingly polite. It’s tricky for those ascending to pass those descending and far safer to do so at the wooden planks. Finally, we got to the top of my mountain and at 2,695 metres we were greeted with the most incredible views. I was filled with tempered joy – I’d made it! But I still had to get back down safely. I reflected on the process of preparing myself for walking up this mountain and felt that the beauty of this experience had changed me. All the training had refined not just my body, but also my mind. I was no longer the same person who began the journey to the top. We took our time to enjoy the views and the wee patch of snow that remained on top of the mountain, having a drink and snack before starting the descent. At first, I began facing forwards as the initial part of the cable descent is shallower. As the

granite became steeper and I could clearly see just how far I could fall, I felt much more comfortable descending backwards and focusing on my feet. There were differing opinions on which was the easier way to tackle the cables; up or down. Up is far more physically demanding, while going down is more mentally challenging. Once off the cables, I felt I could fully celebrate – I’d made it! The joy I felt was so profound there were tears in my eyes. The sub-dome switchbacks didn’t present many challenges and we headed down into Little Yosemite Valley campground to get some of the Merced River water to top up our bottles. As we got close to Vernal Falls, we heard people yelling by the river and realised someone was in the water just above the falls. Swimming in this area is prohibited by the National Park Service because of the danger posed, and there are signs posted everywhere alerting you to this. Though I’d been feeling fairly tired, I still managed to run with my pack on to the water’s edge. Thank goodness


the flailing tourist was saved, but it was certainly not the safest of rescues with two others wading into the water to pull him out mere metres from the 96-metre drop over the waterfall. We continued down to the valley via the John Muir Trail – opting for different scenery even if it was slightly longer. The spray from a small waterfall just past Nevada Falls offered a welcome reprieve from the heat. As with everything in Yosemite National Park, everywhere we looked was beautiful. As the trail came to its end, I felt tired and my blister was starting to hurt, yet I was happy and at peace. The mountains had changed me, recharged me, and I found myself looking towards my next adventure. Michele Fairbairn lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. In her spare time she loves exploring new places, walking and tramping with her husband and their dog.

CYCLING THE SOUTH ISLAND WORDS: Adam Constanza IMAGES: Adam Constanza and Ashlee Gross LOCATION: New Zealand


The plan was to cycle for 14 days and over 800 kilometres through New Zealand's South Island. I was feeling a little intimidated. I AM FAR from an expert cyclist. I have a Giant hybrid that I use for commuting. But with two weeks until the Christmas holidays and no plans, my partner and I decided to go for it, (who needs training, right?) and finally make the trip down the West Coast that we’d always talked about. We turned to Google and typed in our route. “6,800 metres of climbing!” I blurted out.

We had survived the first day and our first eight hours of riding. I started to believe it wouldn’t be as gruelling as I’d first thought.

baking heat until we saw a cottage where the owner refilled our bottles for us; a moment of appreciation for the kindness of people on the road.

Day Three: St Arnaud to Murchison, 59km

The sun continued to beat down as we cycled slowly through shade-less farmland. Looking for a distraction, we devised a game. We would yell out every kilometre of the remaining ten kilometres. But the game quickly became torturous as fatigue set in and we frustratingly watched metre after metre of slow progress on our Cateye (wireless cycle computer) as we crept our way towards Reefton.

What does everyone want on Christmas Day? A ride of nearly 60 kilometres of course.

We agreed to travel light, staying in cabins and motels to save lugging camping gear around. While explaining our plan to a friend, he referred to it as credit card touring; it was a bit more expensive, but the lighter weight riding felt priceless.

I didn’t expect to be keen to get back on the bike. I expected my bottom to be sore. I expected my legs to be sore. Miraculously, they were not. To our surprise the petrol station was open, so we took the opportunity to stock up on Whittaker’s Peanut Slabs and cruised downhill to Murchison in two hours.

Day One and Two: Picton to St Arnaud, 131km

Day Four: Murchison to Reefton, 84km

Our longest ride was planned for the first day. Why? I hear you asking. Our thinking was that we would be full of adrenaline, and once we had finished the 131 kilometres, the worst would be behind us! As would become a theme during the trip, about 20 kilometres in and we were ready for a café stop. We were feeling a little sheepish about stopping so soon, but the muffins at Heritage Bakery convinced us we’d made an excellent decision. The owners sent us off with a “Best of luck”, adding that it was all uphill to St Arnaud. However, it was far easier than we expected as we gradually climbed 700 metres over the next 100 kilometres, most of the uphill coming in the final climb to Rainbow Ski Field.

Milk tankers are early risers too, but that’s about the only traffic we saw all morning. The low-hanging fog made for a chilly, yet atmospheric ride. At the 50-kilometre mark, we spotted a sign “New season whitebait fritters” at the Inangahua Junction Café. While on the West Coast, it would be rude not to stop, right? The heat was reflecting off the road, making for thirsty work and rapidly dwindling water supplies. We pulled into a farm to ask if we could refill. “Sure, no worries” a guy responded from his 4x4 truck window as he pulled away. Holding our bottles to the outdoor tap, we turned it and waited… nothing happened. Damn, the water must have been switched off. Feeling deflated, we kept riding in the


Day Five and Six: Reefton to Hokitika, 118km Fully laden with copious amounts of water – so as not to be caught short again – we were on the road as the sun rose, following the Grey River. I was looking forward to Greymouth, as they had a cinema and 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' was showing! The Southern Alps, the ocean and the early morning light made us feel much more energised than we usually feel pre 6am. The “Ho Ho Hokitika” sign welcomed us into town, and deciding we needed a little treat, we both booked a one-hour massage. It ended up being two hours of pleasure and pain – an extra hour gratis – as the masseuse very generously didn’t want to send us away until we were sorted.

Day Seven: Hokitika to Pukekura, 48km Ross, in my opinion, is home to the best freshly baked apple turnovers in New Zealand. If you are passing

through, make sure to stop at the Roddy Nugget Café to eat one, or two as it turned out for us. We shared one and swiftly returned to the counter to get a second. I attempted to take a third for the road, but unfortunately they had run out. Pukekura claims to be the smallest town on the West Coast with a population of five! If we hadn’t prebooked, we would most likely have kept riding, as the 48 kilometres from Hokitika turned out to be much easier than we had expected. But with nearly the whole day ahead of us, we set off for a walk along a nearby road. It was one of those moments where you know that if you’d been driving, you would never have thought this road was worth heading down. It turned out we had a kahikatea forest all to ourselves, spotting kereru, fantails and tui.

Day Eight: Pukekura to Whataroa, 53km The small township of Whataroa is home to New Zealand’s only nesting

site for the kotuku (white heron). We took a boat ride into the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve and were treated to dozens of kotuku and spoonbill nesting on the bend of the river. It was a hive of activity, juveniles squawking for food while the parents flew in and out like a city during rush hour.

Day Nine: Whataroa to Fox Glacier, 54km As we rode into Franz Josef en route to Fox, tour operators were rounding up people for glacier tours, yelling “Helihike tours” and “Full day hikes”. It was New Year’s Eve, and the activity level was ten-fold that of anywhere we’d been in the last few days. During breakfast, a waiter asked, “Which way are you heading?” I responded “Fox”. He replied “Good luck” and smiled. We left Franz Josef and quickly hit hills, all 800 metres of them. It became apparent why the waiter offered us luck, as we shifted down to our lowest gears.


Day Ten: Fox to Lake Paringa, 70km Our Cateye stopped working as we were riding through Bruce Bay, just on the 50-kilometre point. We’d read that the Salmon Farm Café was 62 kilometres from Fox, so we tried to keep a running guesstimate of the 12 kilometres left until our destination. Riding for what felt like an eternity, we wondered whether the Salmon Farm had closed down, as we thought we had surely gone almost all the way to Lake Paringa. Eventually, just as we had given up hope, the Salmon Farm appeared, so I could finally order the flat white I had been dreaming about all morning.

Day 11: Lake Paringa to Haast, 50km Knight’s Point Lookout – it’s one of those places that you have to stop at and gaze out at the ocean. We didn’t stay too long, though, as the West Coast’s deservedly infamous sandflies swiftly moved us on. We thought we

had read that Knight’s Point was the highest point of the day, so after a short downhill, we were surprised to start climbing once again. After what felt like forever, we finally reached the real high point for the day. We gratefully coasted from there, riding through forest so dense on both sides of the highway that it absorbed any traffic sounds, making us feel totally alone rather than on a main highway.

Day 12 and 13: Haast to Makarora, 79km I had to pinch myself… we had made it to Day 12. My bottom still wasn’t aching. And we were still, unexpectedly, full of energy. Passing through the Gates of Haast we began our ascent of Haast Pass. People beeped and gave us waves of encouragement. I began to count each rotation of the pedals. Just over an hour and 500 metres of climbing later, we hit the high point and felt an enormous sense of relief at having made it.

Our second scheduled rest day was at Makarora. The scenery made it a worthwhile stop, as it overlooks the Makarora River and the ranges of Mount Aspiring National Park. A short ride back down the highway and a one-and-half-kilometre stroll brought us to the aptly named Blue Pools. We stopped to watch people cannon ball into the strikingly crystalclear water while being cheered on by a growing number of spectators. Continuing to the Blue-Young Link Track, we walked through beech and tawhero forests and took a lunch break alongside the Makarora River before heading back.

Day 14: Makarora to Wanaka, 64km We’d reached the final stretch. We cycled alongside the far end of Lake Wanaka toward The Neck; a small piece of land that divides Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. The turquoise water of Lake Hawea appeared and we followed the lake edge, making our way


slowly over the endless undulations of the final 39 kilometres into Wanaka. As we got closer to the finish we caught up with another pair of cyclists who had connected their bikes with a bungee to give the rear rider a bit of a boost up the hills. That takes cycling as a couple to a whole new level! Wanaka. We’d made it. We headed to the lake shore and waded into the chilly water, reflecting on our adventure. I was stoked to have done it, proving to my doubting-self that it was achievable. I turned to my partner and said, “I would love to keep cycling for another 14 days.” She agreed. Adam Constanza is based in Wellington, New Zealand and loves to seek out active adventures. He shares his passion for wanderlust through his travel writing, photography and sketches. www.travelinspired.co.nz F www.facebook.com/travelinspiredone www.instagram.com/travelinspiredone t www.twitter.com/Travelinspired1

STRAY DOGS AND TIN SHEDS WORDS: Kerensa Clark IMAGES: Kerensa Clark and supplied LOCATION: Nepal

It was the sound of men making offerings to Lord Shiva around a symmetrical tree beneath my room, which first woke me. About the tree they walked, mumbling loudly, hands lively as they visualised their God and their conversation with him. This is the daily ‘normal’, and would become my regular alarm clock. As I watched the men deeply immersed in their private worlds with Shiva, I felt like a voyeur should – intrusive and invasive; uninvited. THE TREE, PERCHED on the edge of the mountainside, held particular significance for the people of Changunarayan, and so the men placed tikka powder upon its bark – the trunk reddened with past offerings the monsoon rains had yet to wash away. Opening the rooftop door, I was projected into a dreamily still morning. A soft pink glow had residence in the sky and a loosely draping mist clung to the valley floor. Warmth embraced me, and the faint gentle aroma of earthy rain was in the air. The city lay peaceful, yet spread before me some 15 or so kilometres away and I could barely discern the odd musical tones of bus horns in the distance. I inhaled deeply. I was here. Beyond faded hills on the opposite side of the valley, the 7,406-metre massif of Ganesh Himal stood reflecting the sun’s morning glow in hues of pink, yellow and orange; at once I felt both insignificant and unassailable – “I am here Nepal; finally!” I had planned this trip to the country of my childhood dreams for my entire life – for as long as I could remember;

plotting where I would go, what I would wish to see (Sagarmatha of course), what I would eat and what I would photograph. My planning then had been through the eyes of me as a tourist – the country would show me what I expected of it; I would not need to go looking for the real Nepal. I would no doubt wear those stupid pants that become shorts, and I would walk about Thamel in search of hiking boots and a trekking agency in an awefilled daze. That was then. Now that lifetime of dreaming has slipped by with adventures in other lands and even living for six years in two different countries. My youngest child spent the first two years of his life living overseas. Now approaching 50, my view of travel has changed. My awareness is that of gently interacting with the country and its peoples; embracing their culture and not imposing my own. It is as if I am looking for a home; a home to which I can give my whole heart. So – I am here looking for the real Nepal.  It is three months since the April and May earthquakes. It is the


monsoon. An acquaintance running treks to Everest Base Camp advised I stay away during the monsoon; “Oh it’s raining all the time” he said. I had no intention of going to Everest Base Camp. The trekking trails up towards Everest were closed anyway. He had never been to Nepal during the rainy season; his clients did not wish to get their feet wet. Neither did he. I was here with intent to help (in some small way) people affected by the quakes. Tourists had spent decades travelling to Nepal in their stupid cutoff pants, eating in the homes of Nepali on the trail to view the world’s highest mountain, dropping their rubbish and money along the way. Where are they now? Nepal was devoid of tourists – scared off by aftershocks and landslides. Many of the foreigners who were in the country were ‘disaster tourists’ – pointing invasive cameras at devastation so they could go home and say they had seen it… that they had been here. ‘Help’… surely we should be asking the Nepali what ‘help’ should look, feel and sound like for them. Being

Image: Chris Love

kept digging with a slow, monotonous ‘People rhythm as if keeping time to the beating of some silent drum.’

in this country so soon after such a monumental event still felt like an intrusion, yet I knew that decades of being ‘helped’ already (schools, hospitals) should continue now more than ever. But in what form? After asking some of the Changunarayan locals, I, along with other volunteers decided to build temporary shelters for homeless people in the nearby town of Sankhu. This ancient trading town of around five thousand people was the worst hit in the Kathmandu Valley – losing 90 percent of its ancient buildings and homes to the quakes with a death toll of almost 300. I had fundraised in New Zealand for the purpose of helping somehow and so had my travelling companions – we had money to burn!  Walking through this town devastated by the quakes was comparable to walking through a war zone. I could barely fathom that three months after the quakes, people were still digging out their homes using rudimentary tools, devoid of modern technology to help get the job done quickly and efficiently. This was Nepal. Rubbish was strewn everywhere; scrawny stray dogs rummaged around for a morsel to fill their tiny aching bellies; chickens skitted about unapologetically – knowing the dogs had little or no energy to be bothered with the chase. And everywhere eyes, watching as we foreigners slowly took in the broken landscape, overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of destruction brought to this

once-beautiful settlement. I could not use my camera straight away. The shock needed to ‘land’ first of all. No amount of photographing would ever explain this to a purveyor of my images once I got home. This was too much. There was a tangible feeling of death; no camera could ever capture that. Once again the fleeting feeling of intruding washed over me as Nepali lifted their heads from their work and watched silently as we wandered unhurriedly down the town’s main business street – a muddy, filthy, stinking shadow of its previous self. “Namaste” I offered... to no one and everyone. Nepal is attuned to tourists – tourism is the second biggest industry behind agriculture. It creates jobs and wealth for many along with supporting the once-thriving cottage industry. Nepali were always the subject of the tourist’s gaze; now it appears the gaze was upon us, creating an awareness of awkwardness in me.  Treading cautiously through mud, rubbish, broken bricks and rubble, I felt the first drops of a warm rain contact my skin. Slowly they intensified until quite suddenly they amalgamated in an urgent blanket of wet warmth as if the Gods were somehow trying to erase the devastation and start anew. Drains filled quickly with water and overflowed while dogs and children ran for cover. People kept digging with a slow, monotonous rhythm as if keeping time to the beating of some silent


drum. This was Sankhu – broken but fighting back in its own time. Our small group built ten temporary shelters; nothing more than tin sheds in reality. In the grand scheme of things, ten was never going to be enough. I asked myself time and time again, “Who are we building these for? Us or them?” Perhaps it was a little of both. Grateful families welcomed us into their broken homes and tents for chai and other food; unassumingly wishing to show appreciation for the shelter we provided them from daily rains and an approaching winter. We could not speak the language of the other, but there lay an implicit understanding that transcended any spoken word, eye contact hanging longer than it would normally. ‘Thank you’ spelt out with the eyes, hands and hearts. ‘Thank you’ also came from me for the opportunity to be shown that being in Nepal with an ‘intention to help’ might not have necessarily meant me helping Nepali – but rather Nepali helping me unravel and reveal the essence of humanity. They helped me to find the real Nepal. Kerensa Clark is a wanderer and wonderer – teacher, mother, sometimes cyclist, skier and hiker. Forever enthralled and entranced with Nepal, she is drawn in by the colours, smells, vibrancy, mountains, food and people. www.instagram.com/thewellnessrevolution t www.twitter.com/PickettClar


Mum’s bacon and egg pie was always a firm favourite in our household growing up. Whether it was lunch out of the boot of the car while up the mountain skiing or on smoko break in the woolshed during shearing, it always went down a treat. And now as I head out on my own adventures, it’s an ideal energy source, wrapped up in glad wrap and stuffed in my backpack. Pour over some Red Pepper Relish and you’ve got the perfect snack! BACON AND EGG PIE


Makes: 6 slices

Makes: 2 Jars

1 packet of pastry (short, flakey or puff ) 1 packet of middle bacon 6-8 eggs ¼ cup milk 1-2 cups frozen peas 1-2 cups grated cheese

1 kg red peppers, de-seeded and diced 3 tbsp salt 2 medium onions, finely diced 2 cups sugar 1 cup cider vinegar 1. Place the peppers in a colander and sprinkle salt over them. Leave for at least two hours or overnight. Rinse and drain.

1. Line a 30cm x 20cm ovenproof dish with baking paper – it makes it easier to remove the pie once cooked. 2. Line the bottom and sides of the dish with ready-rolled savoury short, flakey or puff pastry, ensuring it goes up the sides. 3. Cut up the bacon into small pieces, covering the pastry. 4. Break 6-8 eggs onto the bacon pieces then add the milk. Mix together with a fork to break the yolks and combine them with the whites and milk. Do this gently to ensure you don’t make a hole in the pastry. 5. Sprinkle over the frozen peas. At this stage you can add another layer of bacon if you like. 6. Cover the top of the pie with the grated cheese. 7. Bake at 190°C for approximately 40 minutes, or until the filling is set and the cheese topping golden brown. 8. Serve warm or at room temperature with Red Pepper Relish and salad. It will keep in a covered container in the fridge for two to three days.


2. Place in a large saucepan with the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45-60 minutes until thick and syrupy. 3. Spoon into sterilised jars and screw on lids when cooled.

Tip: Don’t fill the jars to the very top as the vinegar can react and rust the lids.




While in Year 11 at High School, I heard about the Pacific Crest Trail, a 4,800-kilometre hiking trail stretching the length of the United States. I read books, followed blogs, watched movies and documentaries, and followed online forums. I printed off maps and put them on my wall. The seed was sown. I was craving an adventure. FAST-FORWARD TWO years and I finished high school. There was no way I had the finances to get to the United States, let alone support myself for five months of hiking. I couldn’t wait until I finished university and earned some money, but that seemed like a lifetime away. So I looked closer to home and decided to spend the five weeks I had before university started, walking 555 kilometres from the top of the South Island to the Rangitata River on the Te Araroa (TA) trail. I’d done my Duke of Edinburgh award and had organised a few short tramps before with mates. However, the organisation that was required for 30 days away, especially when you are poor, was very new to me. I started out searching for gear. I surveyed outdoor stores for shiny, new lightweight kit. I looked at plates that folded down

into small plastic circles, sleeping mats that blew themselves up at night and water filters that made sure you didn’t drink the type of water that makes food come out both ends simultaneously. However, there was only one snag; having only $700 to spend on the whole trip, for food, transport and accommodation meant I couldn’t afford any of it. Instead, I resorted to using gear that was lying around. I found my late grandfather’s old tramping pack in the attic. The pack was an '80s Cascade that was large, heavy, forest green and lived up to its name when I fell into a river with excessive weight. To save money, I made all my meals at home and ran borrowed dehydrators for a week straight until the entire neighbourhood smelt like butter


chicken and spaghetti bolognese. I wanted someone to go with, so I asked around for a companion. My good mate Phil was the only person who couldn’t think up an excuse fast enough and signed up for the expedition, although a couple of school friends volunteered to keep us company during the first few days on the Queen Charlotte Track. We began in Ship’s Cove at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, just as New Zealand was about to head into a scorching El Nino summer. The first four days went by quickly as we walked the length of the Sound. However, on Day Five things started to go wrong. 41 kilometres, on one of the hottest days of the summer and over open farmland, was quite a bit harder than expected! We then managed to get lost on a farm track in Pelorus Valley,


some 31 kilometres in. After a brief realignment when we ran through a field of grumpy cows and waded across a river, we found ourselves on the state highway. We were many kilometres and at least three hours away from where we should have been.

It was in the last DOC hut before starting the mighty Richmond Ranges that I met ‘Paul the German’. We became friends for the next three weeks and together we conquered the Richmond Ranges, Nelson Lakes and the Waiau Pass.

Going solo

Later that night as we hopped into our sleeping bags the door crashed open and a drunk old man stumbled in, mumbling to no one in particular. He lit a cigarette inside the cramped hut and rambled on until midnight to two very unhappy trampers, when we blew out the candles and told him he needed to go to bed. Our hope for a good night’s sleep dissipated a few minutes later when he began to snore like a walrus giving birth to a steam engine. Paul and I slept in the woodshed that night.

By the time we arrived at Pelorus Bridge we were both exhausted. The next morning it was clear that Phil was in a bad way and couldn’t carry on. I was now faced with a decision – was I capable of doing this on my own? This would be my first solo tramp and the nerves of crossing the Richmond Ranges, where high winds occasionally blew lighter trampers off the tops, was getting to me. I’d spent months planning this; I had food boxes dotted around the South Island and I’d spent my money on a hut pass, transport and food. I knew I’d developed good navigational skills, and I was well equipped regarding survival gear should something go wrong. I took a deep breath and began my first ever solo tramp. The Pelorus was full of surprises; beautifully thick beech forests, deafening birdsong and a skinny dipping Frenchman – a questionable practice in the crystal-clear Pelorus River. As I moved from hut to hut, I began to meet more and more TA hikers, including those who had walked all the way from Cape Reinga. I was the only 18-year-old and almost the only Kiwi I met on the whole trip. However, I was welcomed into the TA community – mostly young Europeans and Americans who were post-college. The huts were host to a variety of nationalities and people were united by one goal – to walk to Bluff and have a great adventure along the way.

Yearning for simplicity When day broke we ascended into the clouds, where we spent the next five days walking in a damp cocoon of mist. Every day we would get up and walk, every night we would arrive at a warm hut bursting with smelly TA hikers. We were a lively family; fit, tanned and sprouting impressive beards. The sense of community was strong, and everyone was friendly, sharing chocolate, fuel, bandages and plasters. Stories were told around the stove and photos were shown of friends and families left behind as we talked late into the night. On the last night a small guitar-toting Australian named Paris caught up to us, and our little party became a trio. My shoulders were rubbing against the top of the pack, shins were sore from where I had tripped over my walking poles earlier and my chocolate had melted, but, amongst all of this I was starting to feel content with this new lifestyle. When we descended from the clouds


into the Red Hills, the landscape transformed. Not only had the landscape changed but somewhere along the way, so had I. I was walking along the bottom of the valley in the sweltering heat when, to my amazement, life just slid into place. I was happy and content with where I was. I was tired and sore but not stressed about a thing. My day was reduced to one of two decisions: walking or resting – and the simplicity was beautiful. I had walked hundreds of kilometres and completed the first 15 days of my adventure. My body was getting used to the distances, and my shoulders and shins were feeling better. The blisters I had were settling down. My gear was holding up, my food was good, I had great friends with me, and most importantly, I was happy. All through the Richmond Ranges, I dreamt about what I was going to eat once I got to St Arnaud: ice cream, hot chips and a giant burger with more sauce than you can shake a hiking pole at. I was going to enjoy civilisation and all it had to offer, such as a warm, clean hotel bed and a hot shower. However, once I had arrived and finished eating with a group of TA hikers that was now crowding the only café in St Arnaud, I sat watching the trucks go past as people hustled and bustled, going about their busy lives. I suddenly yearned to be back on the trail again where life was simple and yet more fulfilling. I left town that evening, discarding plans that I had made to sleep the night in St Arnaud and walked up the Travers Valley where I met up with Paul and Paris in the first hut. Over the next two days, we climbed over the Travers Saddle and up to

Rotomairewhenua (Blue Lake). It’s an impressive natural lake, holding the title of the clearest freshwater known to man. Ahead of us lay Waiau Pass, the second highest point on the trail and one of the most dangerous descents.

Close call The night before the pass, storm clouds raced overhead as the hikers prepared for an early start to avoid the rain, which was forecast to arrive around lunchtime. We headed out in the dim morning light, as dark menacing clouds circled the mountain basin. As we hit the base of the scree slope, the wind picked up scattering the smaller rocks around our feet. We reached the top of the saddle early in the morning and waited for a while, eating Liquorice Allsorts as we huddled behind a rock avoiding the strong wind gusts as they heaved themselves up and over the pass. While Paul and I sat there resting before the

descent, Paris and another German called ValĂŠry caught up to us.

could have ended the walk for any of us at any time.

Getting down the pass was difficult as the track turned into a vertical rock climb, in many places straight off the rocky ridge, requiring us to drop down on all fours while the gale pushed us from side to side.

As we walked down the Waiau Valley, the storm clouds lifted and the sun shone as the wind rippled through the golden grasses. We were four small specks, lost within a sea of flowing grass as we walked next to the turquoise creek that flowed quietly beside us, while the sun warmed our faces.

It was during one of these gusts that disaster struck. Paris, Paul and I were waiting at the bottom of the steep gut for ValĂŠry to climb down. As he came over the top and reached for the first foothold, a large gust smacked into the rock face pushing his foot to the side, missing the five-centimetre ledge below. He fell two-and-a-half metres down the steep rock face, landing in a heap at the bottom after smacking his knee into a rock that was jutting out. Thankfully, he was still able to walk on his leg, painfully hobbling out through the valley. As it was, we were still three days away from the nearest road; a chilling reminder of how dangerous the trail can be and how a simple injury


Ahead of us was a hut that would be full of new people to meet, followed by new passes to summit, new rivers to swim and more adventures to be had. This was a way of life that was not always a smooth ride, but was straightforward and fulfilling. Ben Carpenter is an 18-year-old who is discovering New Zealand on foot and the magic and pain of long distance hiking. He is based in Wellington, New Zealand studying Architecture and Design and fits his adventures in during university breaks. www.instagram.com/ben_goes_adventuring




Pounding the flat roads of Mid Canterbury leading into winter was hardly ideal preparation for the challenge I had ahead of me. I was about to attempt a half-marathon on Lewa Conservancy in Northern Kenya over a hilly course, at an altitude of 5,500 feet (1,700 metres) and with a predicted temperature of 30°C. GO BACK A year and I was visiting my daughter Flick, who lives on Borana Ranch, a neighbouring Conservancy to Lewa from where we watched and assisted at one of the water stops on the course. A tiny bit of me wanted to be out there so when she suggested we both do it next year I agreed, not thinking that the plan would come to fruition. Go back five years and I had highfived Flick’s sister Hollie (editor of this magazine) who was training a group of eager runners to attempt their first half marathon. It’s amazing what you agree to after a glass or two of wine, particularly when you have never run in your life and for who the school cross country was hell on earth. Fortunately, my friends Penny and Rachael signed up too, so there was no going back. The result of those training sessions was a completed first-ever half marathon in Kaikoura. We celebrated as if we had just won Olympic gold. As they say, you develop the bug. I went on to complete a few more similar events afterwards, but I did think I had hung up the sneakers until the Lewa halfmarathon opportunity arose. Arriving in Kenya with my running gear (a new addition to my usual luggage) I felt as prepared as I could be. But nothing in New Zealand can prepare you for the altitude. The day after arriving Flick and I went for a short run. Before the first kilometre was covered, I had prepared my email to the race organisers explaining my

withdrawal. The oxygen just wouldn’t reach my lungs. However, the thought of all those early mornings and training around the roads of home and Geraldine convinced me to change my mind; I was going to cross that finish line even if I had to walk. It’s amazing the difference five days can make and come race day I was almost looking forward to it. To be honest, I just wanted it over so I could enjoy the rest of my holiday. Nothing could prepare me for the event, though. I was not the lone white figure by any means, but I was indeed surrounded by a sea of black legs, all very much longer and thinner than mine, and once the hooter sounded, they took off like scalded cats. The atmosphere was fantastic and at each two-and-a-half-kilometre point, there was a water station, with encouraging support from complete strangers. Three family members and my husband Hamish were stationed at the last water stop, so I knew I had to make it to that one! I never saw Flick nor my son–in-law Sam, who was running with his Rangers in full kit; boots, guns and a 15-kilogramme pack on their backs. Incidentally, Sam had just returned from running a 230-kilometre ultra-marathon through the Peruvian jungle, so I certainly was in a different league. I now understand Hollie when she says so much of what you achieve is determined by the top two inches. Using that as motivation, I just ran at my speed (slow), determined to enjoy


it. And enjoy it I did. In fact, I got to the finish line to be greeted by Flick and Sam and many other friendly faces, feeling so upbeat. I had enjoyed this challenge and having a 7am start meant the heat didn’t get the better of me. Thankfully the altitude wasn’t a problem either! I’m not ashamed to say I did walk some of the steeper hills and passing a rhino about 30 metres from the track certainly was a unique experience. It was quite fitting as the proceeds from this marathon went towards the welfare of the rangers responsible for looking after these animals, providing an added incentive. After five years of running I still won’t say the sneakers are hung up, but their days of half-marathon distances are over. Boo Woodhouse is based in Mid-Canterbury, New Zealand. She might be late to the half-marathon scene, and while after every one she completes she says 'Never again', she can't quite bring herself to hang up her sneakers just yet.

FOLLOWING PAGE: Son of a Bach – Taryn Bowler is based in Brisbane, Australia. Her creativity is inspired by somewhere she would rather be; a moment or place captured. Her work is screen-printed by hand embracing perfect imperfections. www.etsy.com/shop/TheLogicalEmotion F www.facebook.com/TheLogicalEmotion www.instagram.com/thelogicalemotion

RUNNING THE ROTA VICENTINA WORDS: Mitch Collins IMAGES: Mitch Collins and Tamson Armstrong LOCATION: Portugal

The grains of sand were so small, insignificant and fine. Weathered particles of rock, ground and broken down by ages of water, wind and waves. That sand, made by suffering the forces of wear and tear, is about to have its revenge. On us. On our legs. Over three days of coastal trails. Sand pushing out and sinking under our feet, filling our shoes and lining our socks. Suffocating our toes. Sand dunes repeatedly rising and rolling.


THE VICENTINA COAST of Portugal is a line of sheer and dramatic limestone cliffs eroded by the Atlantic Ocean. The ever-present sand gathers itself above to form dunes, and below as golden beaches. Where the cliffs give way to river outlets, white-walled and terracotta-tiled fishing villages appear. Despite being an ancient passage, the 'Rota Vicentina' (Fisherman’s Trail) is relatively new, recently established in 2012, linking several coastal walks. It is quickly bringing in a growing tourism base to the Algarve for hikers and trail runners alike. We named the chat group; 'Portugal DEATH Run'. It was designed to strike fear into the very faint-hearted – we only managed to deter those a bit less unhinged with the occasional banter. Leading up to the event, we had been doing varying levels of training and thus decided to split into a couple of groups of differing pace. Our party of nine hardy souls set off south from Porto Covo. Running

would take us over a total of 60 kilometres in three methodically planned sections. Following the blue and green trail markings is surprisingly easy (for some; a few got lost on the first fork), while an inland route offers an alternative for those making a return journey. Our pack gear consisted of enough clean clothes to last a few nights, enough water to last the heat of the day and a chunky DSLR to document some stunning moments and landscapes. For early May, the temperatures were high, the sky clear and the breeze fresh and salty. The first run to Vila Nova de Milfontes set us along a coastline that we found to be sparsely populated by hikers and tourists. We did, however, meet a lot of fishermen. Rows of anglers appeared out of the cliffs, casting lines out into the surf. We discovered that seafood was integral to Portuguese cuisine. Local markets and restaurants offered wide varieties of bream, bass, cuttlefish and clams. Following the


first day of the trail, we decided on a lunch of ‘Bacalhau à Brás’ – salted cod, scrambled eggs, chips and onions. Our honest review was that it isn’t that appetising when served sloppily mixed together on a plate. The evening allowed for a few cold Super Bocks, an icecream and an ice-cold swim. The second day of running to Almograve brought out the first aches and pains. A bit of chaffing from backpacks and blood blisters from sand in the toe-box were quickly overcome with a few plasters and rotation of the packs between the group. A few toenails were beginning to wiggle. Would they last the journey, or would they be later pushed out by the next growth? The Portuguese have a saying, ‘É muita areia para a minha camioneta’, which roughly translates to ‘That is too much sand for my truck’. It is used when a task is insurmountable, too much for one to handle. No-one had managed to snap, yet. It was only a matter of time before

someone would take a dig or kick sand in your face. We all made bets as to who would be first. The locals also have another saying, ‘Quem corre por gosto nunca se cansa’ – He who runs for pleasure never gets tired. What pleasure! Accommodation was booked and a few wines and beers drunk, so there wasn’t much cause for fatigue. While only 15 kilometres, the second stretch was going to be much hotter. Protection from the elements was our best policy. It was an undercoat of sunscreen over the first burn of summer for some. Also protected from harm we saw stork nests perched on the edge of eroded pinnacles, fortified by the ocean surrounds. Our first case of heatstroke arose. Running in the heat of the day is never a good idea, particularly when from cooler climates. We were paying the price for that extra couple of hours sleep-in. Our path pushed inland for our overnight rest at a local backpackers. A major bonus was the pool and a playful labrador called Simba. He chased us around the lawn for hours then obediently followed the pool cleaner around – chomping on the bloated mice that were salvaged from the pool

with a scoop. Wished we had noticed those earlier… At twice the expected elevation and being the longest leg of the trip, we had saved the best for our final day to Zambujeira do Mar. Learning from our mistakes and leaving earlier in the morning to avoid the heat, we ran through fragrant fields of poppies, daisies, wild pea, lavender and the invasive Hottentot fig. These plants clung together over the sand dunes, providing a habitat for all kinds of animals. A few mice and lizards darted out of the way of our footfall. Through one section, our leader shrieked, jumping backwards into the next person's arms as the brown snake slithered off the path from under her foot into the undergrowth. In another section of the dunes, we found an entirely new form of plantlife; perfectly manicured lawn irrigated for cultivation. Long strips are rolled up, used to service the booming golf industry – a recent British export to the Algarve along with the expats seeking milder climates. Arriving at the end of our trail we had completely exhausted our supplies – which to us was a bonus with less


weight in our packs. Swimming in the wash of the Atlantic both soothed sore muscles and cooled an overheated body. Most importantly, it cleaned out the sand. Sand had become our owner, trainer and now our hitch-hiker. Best recommendation is to invest in a pair of lightweight trail runners minimising any mesh holes or entry points for fine particles. In celebration of our feat, we retired to Lagos for a night of burritos and mojitos. Partying late into the evening is an entirely different kind of endurance event and one which we didn’t manage to enjoy for long. Running the Rota was a spectacular experience in an empty corner of Europe that is not to be missed. Mitch Collins is a keen runner and cyclist with wild ideas constrained only by a well-managed budget. In the 2016 European summer he cycled over 6,500 kilometres from London to Athens, stopping along the way for a 170-kilometre run around Mont Blanc. www.tandm.cc

you, me, everyone. we’re all made up of star stuff.


In March 2014, I took a solo road trip from Oregon to Idaho to take care of my grandmother, thinking nothing of it. As insignificant as I expected the trip would be, it turned out to be an epic, ground-breaking journey that I had no idea was coming. For those six hours on the road, I kept coming back to the same thought of how easy it was for me to jump in the car and go. I didn’t even blink an eye. I just went. I started to think how there are a lot of women who would never get in a car and take a six-hour road trip on their own. Somehow, I knew I had to change that. AT THAT EUPHORIC moment of realisation, the significance of everything I had encountered on my travels in the last 12 years fused together into one transformative purpose; and that purpose was to empower women of all ages to explore independently and create new experiences on their own. It was then that I decided to create something that mattered. And it’s called the Day of Trust. An interesting aspect for me was that the majority of these women decided to take their Day of Trust experiences outdoors. Women tried all sorts of activities and many explored parks, trails, surfing, horseback riding, or kitesurfing, while others explored a new city or new country. It was fantastic. And those who tried out their new experiences indoors went to a movie, went to dinner or took a tour solo. The

point is, these 250 women said "Yes" to adventure on their own. They took it upon themselves to escape their bubble and expand their mind and came out on top.

big or small. It’s important to showcase the beauty and vulnerability of saying yes to the unknown.

Through these new experiences in new destinations came new appreciation, love, and empowerment we couldn’t see before. Travelling helps us find new channels, new life, and sometimes new purpose. It can be time for ourselves to reflect, to question our fears and to live in the moment. It’s a chance to gain a new appreciation of what self-worth is. My intention with the Day of Trust is to embody just that; a day to bring new insight into our lives.

To pledge to participate in this year’s Day of Trust on October 15th, 2016, please visit www.dayoftrust.com.

Being involved in the creation process of something that matters to us means that we’re actively taking part in a positive movement to celebrate ourselves. I hope the Day of Trust encourages people to create new experiences no matter how


We’re on a mission to experience life, don’t ever forget that.

Jen Heuett is the creator of Travel + Trust & Wanderlust, an online community to educate, empower and inspire women to travel solo. Her words can also be found in The Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and Travel Hooligan, her first travel company that encourages young adults to utilise the Working Holiday Visa in Australia and New Zealand. www.traveltrustwanderlust.com F www.facebook.com/traveltrustwanderlust www.instagram.com/traveltrustwanderlust t www.twitter.com/TTandWP

A NEW DIRECTION WORDS: Oliver Bailey IMAGES: Tobi Corney and Brendon Delzin LOCATION: Atlantic Ocean

I was deep in the midst of a slow-mo existential crisis. By any measure, my life was desperately dissatisfying. I had lost interest in my career – or whatever it was I was doing that now resembled it, and I’d been mismanaging and prolonging a painful breakup. This had manifested in a general apathy that I soothed with alcohol and meaningless, short-term relationships. I was trapped in a work/play lifestyle that was delivering just enough to not do anything about. I had slumped into the thirty-something mindset that accepts the vagaries of ageing and had embarked on a lifestyle that actively accelerated it. Something needed to change. AN OLD FRIEND of mine whom I hadn’t seen for some time invited me to an impromptu dinner. We caught up over sushi and several bottles of wine and continued late into the night. Then at three in the morning, in our state of drunkenness, he casually asked me whether I would row across the Atlantic with him and three former Royal Marines. He had set a date for early 2016, which was a full two years away, but they needed a fifth man for an improved ‘power to weight’ ratio. In my state of inebriation, I blurted out “Yes”. The following day, with a depressingly familiar hangover, I sheepishly picked up my phone and found a text that read, “Glad you’re in. This is going to be great for you.” What had I done? I couldn’t possibly leave my bubble of mediocrity and risk my life on the high seas. Surely it was madness; fifty days at sea, rowing 24 hours a day in two-hour shifts, in the equivalent space of two conjoined bathtubs? I was 6’4” and 17 stone... it couldn’t work. I spent the following weeks researching ocean rowing, and it looked as ugly as I had anticipated. I had never shown any proclivity toward endurance sports. Furthermore, ocean rowing is an

endurance sport, set in an extremely claustrophobic environment, on a vast, undulating ocean, which has the potential to swallow up an eightmetre vessel with a mere whiff of low pressure, yet alone a storm system. This calibre of a challenge wasn’t well matched to someone weak in temperament, slightly overweight and low on confidence. Nevertheless, I consulted several of my friends who had competed in triathlons and ultra-marathons, and they spoke passionately about a challenge of this magnitude. It was evident it would be memorably difficult, but conversely highly rewarding – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – a catalyst for positive change, an inflexion point that might revert my life trajectory. I needed to prepare myself mentally so I purchased some material on behavioural psychology and mind management. Perhaps brain training was the first tentative step toward my reinvention. After mental preparedness, my second concern was how I would cope physically with the back-breaking process of rowing for 12 hours a day. I was of questionable fitness and prone to injury. Over the last decade, my training schedule had involved a


combination of resistance and cardio training at a ubiquitous UK health and fitness chain, interspersed with the occasional session with a personal trainer who would attempt to remotivate me. My routine was the very definition of going through the motions. I would always take the path of least resistance – machines over free weights and minimal attention to stretching. My form was poor, my functional fitness non-existent and I was carrying a chronic lower back injury. Another reason why I was wholly unsuited to ocean rowing. It was obvious I urgently needed to reappraise my interest and knowledge of exercise as I was coming at the challenge as a subordinate and would need to overcompensate for it. Three of my teammates were ex-special-forces and were in incredibly good condition. I rightly determined myself the weakest link and this attitude turned out to be a blessing in disguise. For our first promotional opportunity, the team headed to a Crossfit box for a group training session and photo shoot. My teammates had been utilising the system for several years and were fervent about its benefits – functional, usable fitness, involving a combination

of Olympic lifting, high-tempo aerobics and callisthenics. I had completely underestimated how demanding it was and received the exercise shock of my life. After five minutes into the workout of the day (WOD), I thought I was going to have a cardiac arrest and was dismayed at how weak my aerobic capacity was. I threw in my towel and watched the rest of the workout from the sidelines – the guys looked like gladiators, fighting to complete the exercises in the shortest time. After my humiliation, I needed to equalise my athletic capability as soon as possible. I quit my fitness club and began training at a local Crossfit box. Within a month, I had made considerable gains in strength, fitness and mobility. Now I had specific requirements – an end goal – I began to look at functionality and biomechanics. I targeted areas for attention; building up my core stability and muscles that supported my lumbar spine. I needed more strength, mass, muscle elasticity and mobility. As

my ability improved, I increased my training frequency to five times a week, often consecutively and sometimes twice a day. The result of this – I began to pick up unavoidable and niggling repetitive stress injuries. This was another learning curve; over-training and its consequences. Rest, recovery and adaptability – key facets for maintaining a routine that keeps you fresh, interested and balanced. I looked at other pursuits outside of Crossfit to sustain my new-found fitness level, while keeping things interesting and avoiding repetition. Over the following year, I used a multiplicity of disciplines aimed at improving my rowing performance including cycling, swimming, the occasional long distance run, hiking and even Pilates. Rowing itself had become strangely therapeutic. We would head out onto the Thames estuary and Essex coast once a month for a weekend where we would row in four to eight-hour shifts, sometimes spending nights at sea. I had also joined a local rowing


club to perfect my stroke mechanics and during mid-week evenings I would practice sculling on the river, which was an entirely different experience from rowing on the sea. I would fill every other day with gym work, including indoor rowing, which was brutal but offered the ultimate in aerobic fitness. By spring last year, I was engaged in so much physical activity I felt empowered and had a new found confidence to compete, so I started to say ‘yes’ to things I would never previously have considered. In April last year, two friends and I climbed Italy’s tallest peak, Grand Paradiso, over two days. In May, we rowed 140 miles across the North Sea from Norfolk to the Hague, in 43 hours. In November I flew to Thailand for a month’s boxing and subsequently gave up drinking and sugar, which boosted my performance more than I could have anticipated. In December, I took up two other martial arts: Panantukan and Jujitsu. In January I recorded the 32nd fastest 500-metre

indoor row in the world that year. I was 100 kilograms, strong and my aerobic capacity had improved dramatically. My teammates had witnessed a complete transformation over the year and complimented me on my gains since that first, painful Crossfit WOD. In March this year, we set two world records after becoming the first team to row unsupported from mainland Europe to mainland South America. Since then, I have hiked mountains in Jamaica, swam across a lake in Guatemala, climbed a volcano in Nicaragua, kayaked down the Thames and am currently planning an expedition that will follow the Viking trade routes from Scandinavia to Iraq. I hear myself described as an athlete and world record holder, and I laugh. In the last 18 months, I have learnt more about myself than in my previous 25 years. This newly discovered hunger to challenge myself is compensation for my years in the metaphorical wilderness – but I also feel this all happened when it was meant to. There are things I can do today that I couldn’t do in my twenties, and I refer specifically to mental fortitude. I am forty years old.

Of course, my physiological decline has begun, but that won’t inhibit me from being as active as possible. As I have learnt, if you train diligently, eat well, listen to your body and adapt your routine accordingly, you can maintain a high level of athleticism whatever your age. Overcoming injuries and setbacks are part of the process. I have a shoulder subluxation, two herniated lumbar discs, osteoarthritis in my L5 vertebrae, a dodgy hip socket and torn cartilage in my wrist, but if anything, these injuries motivate me. I refuse to limit myself because of my age. I went through countless pain barriers during those 50 days and what amazed me more than anything was the body’s adaptability to its environment and its resilience. The payoff of ageing is an emboldening of character that comes with experience. Those moments of outright fear and panic that I felt on the ocean were gifts. I want to experience them again, overcome them and feel that intense satisfaction. Before I undertook the challenge, I assumed I wasn’t made of the right stuff, but I was, I just needed to do it. My re-invention came to me in


dramatic fashion – you don’t have spend 50 days in a boat to achieve something similar. There are plenty of alternative ways to make such a change. Start small, gain confidence, go larger. There is a generation of adventurers who have engineered their journeys by entirely modest means, and nothing is preventing you from doing the same. There will always be obstacles you’ll be required to navigate around; work, family, personal finances – all the usual responsibilities you’re expected to manage as an adult, but don’t use them as an excuse. I still have my existential panics of course. What I am doing? Where am I going? Then I remind myself I survived a 5am capsize in the middle of the Atlantic... and I relax. Oliver Bailey is a full-time investment banker who manages to find time to write and raise money for charity when he's not at his desk. He is currently learning to paddle for his next challenge. www.runninggun.co.uk www.instagram.com/baileypower100 t www.twitter.com/Turbobail



“Georgia, as in the US state? Why are you going there?” They were questions I had heard more than once in the months leading up to my trip and ones that always made me laugh. While Georgia may be a southern US state, it is also the name of a small mountainous country sandwiched between Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. “So why go all that way to Georgia for a hiking and climbing trip?” was the next question. The answer for that was a little easier; Georgia is the best little country you have never heard of. MY RELATIONSHIP WITH Georgia started five years ago during a summer stint as a volunteer for the Roddy Scott Foundation, a UK-based NGO that provides education services to Kist (Chechen) communities in Georgia. During a trip into the mountains, I spotted a beautiful peak along the Russian border called Mt Kazbek, and I had an overwhelming desire to stand on its summit. Straight on my ‘to-do list’ it went! Back home in New Zealand, no matter how hard I tried to settle back into normal life, Georgia and Mt Kazbek were never far from my mind. So in 2015 my friend James and I were locked in to go back to Georgia and climb Mount Kazbek. When you look at Georgia’s location on a map, it’s no surprise that the country has a unique feel to it. Located

at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, it’s a nation which has been exposed to a wide range of outside influences. Even today, Georgia is not immune to interference by its neighbours. In 2008 Russia briefly invaded a small section of Georgia during a short summer war. Although the possible threat of Russian invasion may put some people off visiting, Georgia is overall a very safe country to visit. You’re much more likely to get robbed in Paris than in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. Our ride into the mountains from Tbilisi is in a van, which the locals call a marshrutka. I’m not sure how many people it’s designed to carry, but it’s no doubt filled to over 150 percent of its recommended capacity. James is not looking his best. He gets car sick


easily, and the windy mountain road (suitably named the Georgian Military Highway) and being jammed in the back of the van have left him ready to puke, or punch someone, or both. Thankfully, the mountains are never too far away in Georgia and the marshrutka ride only lasts three hours. We unload at Stepantsminda, the last Georgian town before the Russian border. Located at the base of Mt Kazbek, Stepantsminda is our starting point for the mountain approach. A storm has just passed, and we can see Mt Kazbek from the village. It is covered with a fresh coating of snow and looks even bigger than I remember. While walking to our guest house, some locals in the park offer us some vodka and salami. We decide it would be rude to refuse, so we join them for a

shot and toast the mountain. At 5,033 metres Mt Kazbek is the sixth highest mountain in Europe, and while the standard route up the mountain is relatively non-technical, it’s still a big mountain filled with crevasses, avalanches and is regularly visited by freezing storms, which can last weeks. Two months before our trip, Kazbek had already claimed its first lives of the year. Edi Koblmueller, a well-known Austrian mountain guide and his client were caught out by a storm high on the mountain and froze to death trying to sit it out. Kazbek, or Mkinvartsveri in Georgian, was first climbed by the British mountaineer Douglas Freshfield and some local guides in 1868 when the Caucuses were ripe for exploration and first ascents. Today Kazbek is one of the most visited high peaks in Georgia and often experiences large crowds of climbers during the summer months, which we have managed to avoid by being on the mountain in early June. I hate carrying a big pack so it’s with great joy that I watch the local

trekking guides strap my 70-litre pack to their horse. It’s a beautifully clear sunny morning and we, along with two Slovenian climbers, have hired two horses to carry our packs to the snowline for our hike into Betlemi Hut. I have never before had anyone or anything carry a pack for me so I feel a little guilty, but with a vertical climb of almost 2,000 metres ahead of us, the guilt soon fades. As it is early June we arrive at the snowline sooner than I would have liked and so it’s time to send the horses and guides home and for us to shoulder our packs and complete the hike across the glacier to our accommodation. Betlemi Hut, our home for the rest of the trip, sits at 3,653 metres and was built in 1941 when Georgia was still part of the Soviet Union. From the look of the hut, I doubt it has had much time or money spent on its upkeep since Georgia gained its independence in 1991. The good weather we had enjoyed on the hike up to Betlemi Hut continued the next day, so we decided to join the


Slovenian climbers for an acclimatising hike. I start to feel the burn of the altitude; all I want to do is be sick, but I know that the food inside needs to stay there. But even with the effects of altitude, it is hard not to take in the sheer beauty and rawness of the surroundings. Above us sits the icecaped summit of Kazbek, only 800 metres away but looking impossibly high. Behind us, the smaller peaks of the Caucasus Range fan out in a sea of green valleys and white summits spread between both Georgia and Russia. The next morning my alarm goes off at 3am, but I’m already awake, having hardly slept a wink. There’s no need to get dressed as I’m already wearing everything I have and wishing I had brought a thicker down jacket. From our room, I can hear the wind howling, but I know I must go outside and assess it before making the call to bail. The weather is overcast but the wind is strong, too strong to summit, so I head back inside and check in with the Slovenians. Like true hard men, they have decided that the weather

is not that bad. “We try and see what happens,” says Michael with a weary smile. I wish them luck and head back to bed. Four hours later they are back in the hut looking wasted. “The wind was too strong,” they say, hoping to try their luck again tomorrow. After sitting out another day while the weather howled, we are ready to try for the summit. It has snowed during the night so we follow the guided Russian group’s footsteps up the mountain rather than fighting our way through the knee-deep fresh snow. James and Tomaz soon have to turn back due to illness, so I pair up with Michael. The weather can’t seem to make up its mind; one minute it’s clearing and the next it’s snowing. As the sun starts to come up, it looks like it might clear, but within ten minutes we are back in a freezing white-out. Two hours later it’s still snowing. The guides have decided that there will be no summit for their clients today so they stop their group, bring out their flasks and pass around warm tea. I don’t care if

we go up or down I just want to move, my feet are freezing standing still and are telling me to move. As the guided party start to head down, I realise that we had better do the same. Michael is annoyed. “I hate quitting,” he says, but agrees conditions are too dangerous to continue so back to the hut we go. With no clear weather forecasted and the pull of a warm shower and fresh food getting stronger every hour, we decide to head down off the mountain. On the knee-crashing descent back to the village, we cross paths with a group of climbers heading up to the hut. They look the opposite to us; energised, well rested and hungry for the summit. We, on the other hand, look more like miners after a hard day of work; dirty, tired and keen for a drink. It was disappointing to have come so far and not summit Mt Kazbek, but mountains are indifferent to our ambitions. Sometimes they let you stand on top but a lot of the time they shut the door in your face.


The next morning back down in the village we wake to bright sunlight filtering through our guest house window, and I felt some anger stir; the weather is good, we should have stayed on the mountain longer. But as I walk outside and look up at Mt Kazbek I crack a smile. The top of the mountain is blanketed in a cloud, present during very high winds, winds too strong to summit in. After a relaxing morning eating far too much, we pack our bags and book our taxi back to Tbilisi. With only us and the driver in the taxi, it’s a lot more comfortable than our last ride and the scenery out the window is just breathtaking. Oh, Georgia you’re still on my mind. Joe Harrison is based in Canterbury, New Zealand. He enjoys mucking around in the Southern Alps and traveling to interesting corners of the globe, always with his camera in hand.





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Say Yes to Adventure – Volume Six  

Say Yes to Adventure – Volume Six  


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