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PUBLISHER + EDITOR + CREATIVE Hollie Woodhouse COPY EDITORS Charley Mann Boo Woodhouse CONTACT email@example.com
BACK COVER The High Five-O Challenge Page 18 Image: Richie Johnston
FRONT COVER The Lament of Sermersuaq Page 28 Image: Thomas Seear-Budd
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Published by The Adventurous Kiwi Printed by Spectrum Print, Christchurch, New Zealand ISSN: 2422 8850 © Say Yes to Adventure. September 2015. All rights reserved. Nothing in whole or in part in the magazine may be produced 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 Say Yes to Adventure is an independently published magazine. Purchasing a copy on-line is the best way to support the magazine – www.sytamagazine.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, Say Yes to Adventure would love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sytamagazine.com/contributors for more information.
OPPOSITE PAGE: Anna Guild is an artist based at High Peak Station in the Canterbury High Country of New Zealand. She takes her inspiration from her family, magnificent surroundings and wherever her travels take her. www.highpeakstation.com
BUFFALO AND ELEPHANT Anna Guild
SAY YES TO BRAND NEW ADVENTURES Eleah Ramos
YES Hanne and Tobias Scheel Mikkelsen
MOUNTAIN GARDEN Carley Cornelissen
TRODDEN TRACK Jack Faulkner
PERFORMANCE THROUGH PEOPLE Jamie Fitzgerald
DON’T LET GO Davey Hughes
TAKING ON THE CHALLENGE Bill Thomas
CHALLENGE HIGH FIVE-O: MAL LAW Hollie Woodhouse
INTO THE BLUE Emma Sheppard
ADVENTURE Hollie Woodhouse
KOOTENAY CANOE TRIP Emanuel Smedbøl
THE LAMENT OF SERMERSUAQ Thomas Seear-Budd and Talia Carlisle
ALASKAN ADVENTURE Jane Gilchrist
SURVIVING THE SAHARA Sam Taylor
A USEFUL ADVENTURE Vanessa Wells
JAMIE IS RUNNING Jamie Ramsay
NORTH AFRICAN CHICKEN Sam Mannering
PHOTOGRAPHING THE WORLD FROM THE WATER Lisa Michele Burns
TYTO ALBA AND PARDALOTE Beth Gregory
THE SKY OF THE TIGER 106 Carla Munro
DREAM BIG, SEE MORE Ryan Anderson
THE TRAILS OF AZORES Antonio Abreu
A PLACE LIKE NO OTHERTHE 114 SAN BLAS ISLANDS
HOT, DIRTY, HUMBLING Rosie Morrison
BEHIND THE LENS MARCEAUPHOTOGRAPHY Lyndon Marceau
JENNIFER + SMITH Jennifer Fowler and Rebekka Carey-Smith
SURFING THE SIERRAS Gavin McClurg
OPPOSITE PAGE: What We Do is a Copenhagen based design studio by architect and graphic designer Hanne and Tobias Scheel Mikkelsen. They sell their own products as well as offering graphic design services. www.faunascapes.dk F www.facebook.com/faunascapes www.instagram.com/whatwedodk t www.twitter.com/whatwedodk
thank you WOW, WHAT AN adventure. Since Volume One went on sale in March my life seems to have been one massive roller-coaster, an awesome one at that. For those of you who purchased a copy, thank you so much. The feedback has been overwhelming and has more than confirmed my own belief that a high-quality magazine filled with inspiring adventure articles, images and illustrations is loved by many, no matter what your age. In April I headed to Morocco to compete in the Marathon des Sables; an experience like no other, it was everything I thought it would be and more. You can read all about the sand, the blisters and Running for Rangers on page 34 by my teammate and brother-in-law Sam Taylor. I often catch myself smiling and staring into space while I fondly remember the adventures through the desert. A few weeks after arriving home and still in a running ‘euphoria,’ Sam sent the members of Running for Rangers an email: Dear All, This is the next mission. Jungle Ultra in Peru. June 2016. It’ll be wonderful. 240 kilometres. 99 per cent humidity. Scorpions the size of cats. Plant species that leave third degree burns. New, classic stories from yours truly.
Image: Richie Johnston
The skiifields in New Zealand’s South Island have had a season of my childhood, with snow more often seen on the European slopes. But now with spring just around the corner the days are slowly getting longer and warmer and the daffodils starting to show their heads. This means more daylight hours to run in the hills, kayak on the rivers and bike on the trails. Perfect training for the events I have coming up over the summer months. Once again I am blown away by the contributions in Volume Two; people from all walks of life who are getting out there, exploring amazing places and kindly sharing their experiences with us. I hope you enjoy reading about their adventures just as much as I have.
Are we all in?? Needless to say he received four ‘yes’s’. So the next challenge has been set and we’re off to the Peruvian Jungle in June 2016 while continuing to raise money and awareness for the Rangers’ welfare across the wildlife conservancies in Kenya. Yes, I’m terrified.
Enjoy, Hollie Woodhouse
For Briar Taylor and Harry Woodhouse xo This magazine could not have been possible without the amazing generosity of so many people. A huge thanks to everyone who has contributed their inspiring stories, images and illustrations, with special mention to Stephanie Brown, Mal Law and Richie Johnston. 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, Charley Mann, Sonia Dench, Sue Murray and Jacqueline Manson. Apologies: The cover image in Volume One was credited incorrectly. It was taken by Miles Holden for Red Bull Media. OPPOSITE PAGE: Jack Faulkner is originally from Scotland, where he worked as a graphic designer. He moved to beautiful New Zealand over five years ago for a snowboard season and has never left. He spends most of his time adventuring and everything he produces is inspired by these adventures. www.thecabinsupplyco.com F www.facebook.com/cabinsupply www.instagram.com/cabinsupplyco t www.twitter.com/cabinsupplyco
DONâ€™T LET GO! WORDS AND IMAGES: Davey Hughes
he proceeds to tell me the second ‘Then Golden Rule... it’s the same as the first. Never let go Hughsey. ’ “HAW.” It was a command, not a laugh. A command uttered in the Great Silence. The only other noise being that of 32 padded and slippered paws pulling my sled across the frozen lands. I guess I’d always believed that running a dog sled would involve all manner of calls and directions, however the reality is there are really only two that matter. ‘Haw’ and ‘Gee’. Left and right. “Haw.” I turn them left again, away from the thin ice ahead that is a different shade from all the rest on this frozen river. Our arc beneath the looming cliff faces that are prevalent on Svalbard is wide, the Kingdom of the Ice Bear. Yes, what better place, what more fitting backdrop to my first experience at dog sledding. It is December and the light now will only last a few hours, if you could call it light at all, for it’s more of a gloom. I turn my team back towards the far side of the valley where the strong lights above the buildings guide me and eventually I see the kennels ahead. Robert is there, waiting for me as the team rushes into the enclosure, my head narrowly missing the Svalbard Huskies sign. “And how was it?’ He knows how it was. My face is beaming and the emotion hard to hide. “I want to be a musher! Robert, I want to be a musher more than anything in my life!” I can’t hide how I feel. I’ve spent the last 30 years traveling the planet in search of adventure and the
unknown. I thought I’d seen the most of it; felt the rush many a time. But damn it all, I was a kid again! This feeling, this flood of life had captured me. I wanted more. “Then you must travel south, to Karasjok. There is a man, Sven Engholm. He will guide you with your next steps.” It was a simple statement of fact. If you like this, then you will need help for the journey, but first you must travel to find someone who can help. Two weeks and three flights later I find myself standing in front of Engholm. Tall, sinewy and aloof, Sven is revered in dog sledding circles as a man who lets his deeds speak for themselves. He’s a top ten Iditirod finisher and eleven times winner of the famed Finnmarkslopet, a 1,000 kilometre race with no stages – you just keep racing. We immediately hit it off and as I head for my log cabin after the full day of travel, I do so knowing the week ahead will challenge me. Exhausted as I am, I can’t wait for morning. This sure as hell is going to be a fun ride. After the darkness of Svalbard it was refreshing to awaken to a morning where now steady light streamed through the frozen fir trees. Someone had taken my sunglasses off ! It’s still minus 23˚C, but strangely that feels warm after my northern adventure. The dogs, all 54 of them, are making such a racket I can’t hear myself think as I wander down to cast an eye over the kennel area. It’s feeding time and large hunks of moose meat, freshly chopped by axe,
are being thrown to the dogs as well as a steaming ladle of broth. That reminds me, time I ate something. Over the years one thing I’ve learned about the north country is eat. Eat hearty and eat often. It’s amazing how much energy your body will burn just to keep itself warm. There’s a fair bit of protocol to familiarise myself with. And of course, the Golden Rule here is the same as on Svalbard. No matter what happens, if you tip over, if you are being dragged, if you’re smashed against trees and your mouth is so full of snow you cannot breathe… DON’T let go of the sled. The dogs will keep running if you do and they will not stop. Ever. Not till they die. Sven is deadly serious, almost stern as he repeatedly points his finger at me to hammer home the rule. Then he proceeds to tell me the second Golden Rule... it’s the same as the first. “Never let go Hughsey.” This is no holiday camp, it’s a school, so you must learn – learn how to harness your dogs, to put the ropes on, balance your sled. My lead dog is Lennon; and boy, does he sing! Not a howl, more a melodious floating tone to the trail Gods. “I’m coming.” The power of the dogs surprises me. My team is larger than the one I’d had on Svalbard and the horsepower much, much more – so much I struggle to hold them back before Sven has even reached his sled. He grins like a devil. “We’ll take the shortcut to the river Davey.” Then we’re off ! Through the gate and onto a trail that suddenly
dives down the hill. Hang on a minute, we’ve just left the trail… just as he disappears Sven cocks his head sideways, “Donnnn’t letttt go!” Of course I won’t let go. Who does he think I am? Why, I’m a… holy shit! You are kidding me! Steep? There’s no way I can see through the mass of trees ahead. The dogs know though and they bank hard left, then hard right. Shouldn’t we be following Sven? Lennon? Hey Lennon! Then we’re airborne. Bang. The air explodes from my lungs and I’ve barely time to draw another breath before we’re flying again. I lose my footing on the pad for a split second, demanding a huge effort to regain my balance – oh, and my composure. Suddenly the hill is behind us. Sven is standing waiting with his team on the frozen lake that stretches out ahead of us for miles. It’s flat. It is flat and man, is that ever lovely after the descent I have now named “Deadmans”. He’s smiling like he’s just won a bet with the cook. “That save us a little time, yes?” “I dunno Sven. Much time?”
“Oh yes. Maybe two minutes.” Oh well in that case it was surely worth it mate. Not. “Let’s go.” And go we did. Crossing the lake like we were dancers, coursing left and right with a “Gee” and a “Haw”. I was flying and it was effortless. Soon we left the lake and began climbing up through the tundra. In the distance, reindeer and Saami herdsmen worked their way back down to the holding pens outside of Karasjok. “Tonight they will cut out the family animals from the herd. Would you like to help?” Man, would I. Absolutely mate. Yeah. It was midnight that night before we made our way down to the holding pens to take part in the annual draft. The Saami were camped in Lavu, teepees, around the pens and the first order of the night was a cup of tea followed by generous strips of reindeer meat cut straight from the bone. Outside the temperature plummeted, but the lavu inside was as warm as the welcome. Overhead Aurora Borealis played a tune across the northern skies, while the yards were a heaving tangle of men, women, children and half wild
reindeer. Was I born for this? Yes. This is the joy of travel in the Arctic. This is why I was born. As each day passed I became more at one with my team. I knew all their names and their quirks; when to push and when to hold. They had allowed me to join them in their fun and I will be eternally grateful for their acceptance. It’s funny – the days on the trail were long and often taxing, yet as each night approached it seemed to me that we’d only just begun to exert ourselves. As I tied each dog back at the kennels, feeding them hot broth and moose I’d ruffle their necks. “See you tomorrow. Get some rest friend, because tomorrow we’re gonna fly again.” Davey Hughes – aka The Swazi Man – is a passionate conservationist and sure knows how to spin a yarn or two. He is a man of many things, but one thing he is most certainly not is conventional. He loves to live life to the full and has an absolute love for the great outdoors. www.swazi.co.nz F www.facebook.com/SwaziNZ t www.twitter.com/SwaziNZ
Image: Richie Johnston
HIGH FIVE-0 CHALLENGE WORDS: Hollie Woodhouse IMAGES: Richie Johnston and supplied
Beginning on February 7th 2015, Malcolm (Mal) Law set out to complete 50 peaks and run the equivalent of 50 mountain marathons in just 50 days, with an aim to raise $505,050 for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. An idea most people wouldn’t even dream of, it has since been labelled “the most audacious feat of endurance ever attempted on New Zealand soil.” Hollie Woodhouse talks to Mal about running these crazy adventures and what drives him to keep setting himself these challenging goals.
ORIGINALLY FROM LIVERPOOL in England, Mal spent his life being dragged up mountains in Scotland with his father, often with only a measly square of Fruit and Nut chocolate to keep him going. Looking back, it was these adventures that planted the seed for his love of the outdoors, even though “it took a while for that seed to germinate”, he says. In 1987 Mal left the bright lights of London to land in Aotearoa with a oneyear working holiday visa. With his stay almost coming to an end, he headed for a month camping holiday in the Nelson lakes and decided it was “just too good a place to leave.” It was his first real exposure to New Zealand’s outdoors and because of this it’s still a very special place for Mal; he loves going back and credits the area for beginning his love affair with New Zealand. Running has always been a part of Mal’s life, but it’s only been in the last five or six years that it’s become his major focus. This passion began in his twenties, dabbling in a few half
marathons before becoming just a part of the mix as he progressed into multisport and endurance events in his thirties, which included mountain biking, road biking and kayaking. The discovery and obsession with running long distances really kicked in when he decided he would attempt to run New Zealand’s seven Great Walks back to back in just seven days. Back then there was no such thing as ‘trail running’; it was just called running, but you were off the road in the bush or mountains! The 7in7 became the catalyst for really making his mark in the New Zealand adventure scene. Before running full-time, he spent 20+ years in the Market Research industry. While it was a decent career that challenged him mentally, it wasn’t until he took a year off to organise the 7in7, that he realised that this was where his passion lay. “If I could find a way to scratch a living from running, then that’s what I want to do.” And it’s been his quest ever since. He has successfully achieved this,
setting up a company with wife Sally, aptly named Running Wild, which encourages runners of all levels to explore and share beautiful trails in a selfless way. He has also published a book One Step Beyond, which details the determination and triumph of completing the 7in7 and also inspires many people through his public speaking. In 2007 after completing a big contract with work, Mal decided he needed some time-out and organised a six-day tramp through the Kaweka and Kaimanawa Ranges in the North Island of New Zealand. He was only a couple of hours into this adventure when a thought popped into his head that he couldn’t shake. Having just read Ranulph Fiennes’ book, where he completed seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, Mal decided it would be a great idea to do something similar, but instead in New Zealand with the Great Walks. “I didn’t even know how many Great Walks there were in New Zealand, which ones qualified and which ones didn’t.”
But after some research he discovered there were seven on the mainland (not including the Wanganui River Journey), and with 7in7 having a good ring to it, the challenge was set. Right from the start Mal knew he wanted to raise money while completing the mission. Having lost his older brother to Leukaemia when he was nine, he always thought one day he would go on a big adventure and raise money for a Leukaemia related charity. “As soon as the idea popped into my head I thought ‘great, finally this is my opportunity, let’s make it happen.’” It was time to put his legs where his mouth was. The 7in7 was meant to be his “one great adventure”, but after successfully finishing at the Kepler Track near Te Anau, Mal had a three-day drive back to Auckland before arriving home. It was during this time he thought, “if I can do that, then I can do all kinds of stuff. I can pretty much do whatever I want.” Just about to turn 50, Mal decided it was ‘now or never’, if he was going to
have a change of career and pursue his passion this was the perfect opportunity to do it. Needless to say he’s never gone back to Market Research. He followed up his first 7in7 in 2009 with another 7in7 Challenge a year later, but this time based around the Southern Lakes of the South Island. “The idea was to ramp it up a bit further, so the runs were a bit more challenging than the Great Walks, a bit more back country running.” He was covering a similar distance of about 370 kilometres in the week, but this time getting more people involved. There were 120 people who joined Mal, compared to 17 for the first 7in7, which meant he could escalate the fundraising, successfully raising over $175, 000 for Leukaemia. He then went on to climb ‘Everest in a Day,’ which acted as a training run for his next adventure, which saw him run the entirety of the South West Coast Path in the UK (all 1,014 km of it) in a record time of 17 days. All these Challenges were charity fundraisers and
collectively they raised almost $300,000. Peak bagging has always been something special for Mal, so naturally his next step was to combine this love with his passion for running. “It’s a bit more exciting than just going and running trails, as you get to look up at the mountains while you’re doing it.” The Te Araroa Trail runs the length of New Zealand and is something that had always been in the back of Mal’s mind as a mission he would like to complete one day. 53 days is the record for covering the entire length of this trail, so of course Mal was asking himself if it could be done in 50. With this number kicking around in his head, he decided it wasn’t his thing to do the trail as a speed test. While he liked the challenge of it, there is quite a bit of the trail that he doesn’t find as inspiring as climbing a peak in the South Island. So with the number 50, and the idea of combining peaks as well as trail evolved 50/50/50 – 50 Peaks, 50 Days and 50 Marathons throughout New Zealand.
The most important aspect of this mission to Mal was raising funds for the Mental Health Foundation, another charity Mal feels extremely strongly about. He has had firsthand experience with the devastating effects of depression, after finding his brother-in-law who took his own life a number of years ago. Following on from the fundraising was the peaks, then followed by the 50 days. “Why I ever then raised the bar and said ‘if I’m going to do it lets make it marathons, I’m not quite sure, because that is a whole new challenge in itself.” Even Anna Frost, one of the world’s best trail runners, said to him “What are you thinking Mal? 50 Peaks in 50 Days would be hairy, audacious and just remarkable. You don’t need to add 50 marathons too.” If there is one thing I have learnt about Mal, it’s that he is a determined character and he was about to give his absolute all to achieve this goal. But as it turned out this was just too big a task, even for Mal. A few weeks into the challenge he realised he had issues; a dodgy left knee meant he wasn’t going to be able to complete the distances he had set for himself. “It was hard to let go initially, but I got used to the idea and am totally at peace with it now.” Mal ended up running 40 marathons in 50 days, equivalent to climbing almost ten Mount Everests, a phenomenal achievement that alone deserves a huge amount of respect. Two years in the making and almost 18 months of full time work meant he became totally immersed in making the High Five-O happen. It ruled his life; at times totally taking over, which ironically meant it wasn’t very good for his mental health. “We’ve learnt some important lessons on how to manage that for any future adventures.” For every hour Mal spent training, he would spend three or four hours sitting at a computer bringing it all together;
the logistics, the sponsorship, the 300 runners that would accompany him on the days, and then on top of that he had to put together the entire logistical plan. “We had to plan it down to the absolute nth degree, to make sure it went smoothly.” There was no flexibility allowed with people waiting at each new stage to run their allocated day with Mal. While Mal may have been the face of this project, the support he received was enormous. The main financial support came from Partners Life (an insurance company) who put money in the pot and provided an income for Mal while he organised the logistics of putting the event together. “They basically treated us (Sally and himself ) as Project Managers, and paid us accordingly.” Financial support also came from Marmot and Mazda, which covered basic costs such as filming the Challenge. All together there were about a dozen commercial sponsors involved. On top of that, there was also the opportunity to sponsor each day for a decent donation to the charity, which gave the business naming rights for that day. They then took a flag with their logo on and flew it at top of each peak. While the organisation and logistics of coordinating required a huge amount of time, it was more than worth it, with day sponsors adding over $40,000 to the fundraising total. There was also the opportunity to run each day with Mal, but to do that each person needed to raise a minimum of $400. On average, people rose far more than this, with Simon Fisher raising the most with an astonishing $31,678. Mal averaged about 20 hours a week in training, with the last year being entirely up and down mountains. It really was just a case of clocking up time on his feet, and getting used to using poles. His training was very specific; walking up and jogging down while building endurance and strength.
“I was really happy with the training, it was the perfect preparation for the long back-to-back days.” “The last four weeks leading up to day one were crazy”, Mal recalls. There was a lot of stress, with Mal’s’ biggest fear of starting not in the right shape of mind almost coming true. To run on that first day at the Tarawera Ultramarathon near Rotorua was a huge relief. “All I had to do from then on was survive each day, do the right things at the end of the day and get up the next day and do it again.” There was no more planning that could be done, instead he could just live in the moment and enjoy accomplishing the challenge he had set himself almost two years earlier. A convoy of three campervans and the Mazda BT50 set off and followed Mal around the country, filled with his support crew. There was a minimum of four people at any one time, with Vera Alves doing an amazing job with media. One person was dedicated to the cooking and nutrition side of things. “If there is one thing I have learnt from past adventures it is that the food is an absolute critical part of the mix. If you don’t get that right you’re in trouble!” Mal’s wife Sally was the chief logistics officer for the entire Challenge. It was a huge task for everyone involved, made even more amazing by the fact that they were all volunteering, with most giving up his or her own work to support Mal in achieving his goal. “I couldn’t have done it without them. It was one of the really cool things about the challenge. The whole support crew gelled and became a close-knit family.” When the time came to say goodbye and go their different ways, it was quite a sad a moment, “almost like a family break up”, Mal says. Throughout the entire country the spirit and camaraderie of New Zealand really shone through, offering plenty of
local support on their journey. “We had bands playing for us in the domain at Te Arawa, and a sausage sizzle going all day in Franz Joseph Glacier with a police escort at the start and end of the run.” Lots of communities chipped in in lots of different ways, making it a very special experience. The route started in Rotorua, followed by an extra three days in the North Island before jumping the Cook Straight and making his way down the South Island’s West Coast before heading back up again, taking 30 days to complete. It was then North again, crossing back over the Straight and spending the final two weeks making his way up the North Island, finishing with The Partners Life DUAL Marathon 50 days later. But things weren’t always plain sailing. In the first week Mal developed a nasty chest infection, and while it didn’t make life very easy it was never really a threat to stopping him complete his mission. “I got some antibiotics and started zapping it, confident it would come right.” This can’t be said about week two and three though, where Mal developed a trapped nerve in his left knee that took the best part of two weeks to get rid of. “I was down to walking and that’s when I had to make the decision to drop some of the bigger peaks on the
agenda.” He replaced these with smaller peaks, which meant less distance but more time for rehab and much-needed rest to address the problem. The lowest point of the entire challenge, where he doubted his ability to carry on, came when he was going over the Motatapu on his way to Arrowtown. He climbed a few big peaks on the way with a knee that was giving him absolute hell. “I could only travel at snail’s pace, there was no running involved at all, instead just a long painful walk.” He reached Arrowtown with the realisation that if he couldn’t fix his knee it was going to be game-over. “It just wasn’t possible to do what I was planning on doing with that kind of injury”, he says. This was crushing for Mal, but just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. He was sat down to be told a good friend Steve, who was supposed to be running with him a few days later, had been killed in a helicopter crash that day. “It was my lowest point, without a doubt”, he says. He was already so emotional, wondering if the whole thing was going to come unstitched after two years of planning, and then hearing that Steve had been killed, he just thought “what else?” It was here that Mal’s incredibly strong character
really shone through. That night he thought two things. The first was that bad things come in threes – a chest infection, a knee injury and a mate dying. “That’s it, that’s those three done. So if I can survive this, I can get through anything.” And the other thought that went through his head was “What would Steve say?” He decided Steve would have said “just nut it out mate. You’re going to do it.” As tragic and horrible as it was for Mal, it was Steve who provided him with the motivation to keep going when he needed it the most. After some good rest and physio work in Wanaka Mal’s knee started to heal and came right on day 21 as he was running the Kepler Track. This was the first day he started running again after nearly two weeks, and never looked back. The final day at The Partners Life DUAL was everything Mal imagined it would be. 45 runners in red shirts lined up together for the last 42.2 kilometres of his journey, setting off an hour before the race started “to make sure we got back in time for prize giving!” On such a buzz, Mal thinks he could have run that race in a good time. “I was so charged on adrenalin, I was just buzzing.” For the last ten kilometres he was joined by Sally and son Beinn. As much as he
Image: Richie Johnston
wanted it to be done, he also wanted to savour those last few kilometres. “The finish line itself was just crazy”, he says. He was greeted by deafening noise with over 100 people making a human tunnel for him to run through. “It was the happiest 30 seconds of my life”, he says, and was understandably extremely emotional. “There was no relief, no sadness, only joy.” “The bigger the challenge you set yourself, the bigger the battle afterwards” he says, and this was definitely true. After two years of organising and successfully completing the 50 peaks in 50 days, Mal experienced a lull period afterwards. “It was a true reflection of the enormity of the challenge. I knew it was totally natural, but I was still fighting it.” He knew he shouldn’t feel bad about it, realising “you’ve just got to be kind to yourself and accept that this is how things are, and not to beat yourself up too much. Things will always come right.” It’s no surprise that physically Mal took a while to recover too. He attempted to run a few weeks after finishing, but his body would just say ‘no’. “You’ve got to listen to your body and accept
that it takes time. The worst thing you can do is push it, that’s when you end up with chronic fatigue.” Again it was Anna Frost’s wise words telling him to not do anything for at least a month afterwards, which thankfully he took on board! Mal is hugely proud of his achievement, not just the physical side of things but also the amount of money he managed to raise for the Mental Health Foundation. ‘It’s more than anyone has ever raised for a single project like that before.” For one person to set out and raise over $505,050 (final figure to date is $511,761) is mindblowing. It was also the community that was developed because of the story, not just in New Zealand but around the globe, who followed Mal through his highest of highs and lowest of lows throughout the entire journey. The lasting effect from this is that there were a lot of valuable messages that came out of it for Mental Health, adding, “As a direct result of the challenge we managed to save several lives. People who drew heart on what we were doing and realised that it’s OK to seek help, instead of doing something more drastic.”
That alone makes this Challenge worth every second of Mal’s hard-earned blood, sweat and tears. It comes as no surprise that Mal has already set himself a new challenge. In May 2016 he, along with friend James Harcombe, will run 1,700 kilometres of trails around Wales to raise money for Mental Health Foundation New Zealand and Mind UK. Be sure to follow them on Facebook: Chasing The Dragon. Mal Law is an adventurer, fundraiser and storyteller living in Wanaka, New Zealand. He has dreamed up, planned and completed lots of epic adventures and continues to push his personal boundaries. www.malcolmlaw.co.nz www.high50.org.nz www.runningwildnz.com F www.facebook.com/malsadventures www.instagram.com/malsadventures t www.twitter.com/RunningWildNZ
OPPOSITE PAGE: Hollie Woodhouse is the creator of this magazine you hold in your hands. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, she believes “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” www.holliewoodhouse.com F www.facebook.com/theadventurouskiwi www.instagram.com/holliewoodhouse
THE LAMENT OF SERMERSUAQ WORDS: Thomas Seear-Budd and Talia Carlisle IMAGES: Thomas Seear-Budd
Sermersuaq is Greenlandâ€™s ice sheet, the second largest body of ice in the world after the Antarctic ice sheet. Armed with a tent and camera, photographer Thomas Seear-Budd and journalist Talia Carlisle set off to discover why this ancient and impressive landscape is causing global panic.
IN THE FAR north, past the Arctic circle, we are lost in a world of white. Rolling hills of ice extend into the distance, dark patterns swirl beneath our feet and bright blue streams of melt-water carve their way through the desolate expanse. Although struck by its infinite beauty, we start to panic. Steep slopes tower above us. The sun is setting and temperatures are dropping quickly. We are tired, hungry and cold. We are lost on Greenland’s enormous ice sheet. Wind back two hours and hundreds of labyrinthine footsteps and we find ourselves pivoted on the edge of black rocks and muddy melting ice, three hours drive from Kangarlussuaq in East Greenland. Our driver had long disappeared from the rough rocky roads behind us and would not return for five days. Alone on the edge of the ice sheet, we found ourselves suspended like a pendulum, unsure of which identical icescape to delve into – until curiosity got the better of us and we plunged ourselves into glistening whiteness. I was struck – not only by the immense size of the ice sheet but by the incredible silence and sense of isolation. My partner Talia and I had travelled half way around the world to reach this cold wilderness. I had set myself the task of studying the transition between the ice sheet and black rocky landscape, as well as the ice further inland. At these locations, the melting is at its peak and the ice is much thinner than at the ice sheet’s centre. From above, the ice sheet dominates Greenland’s vast and rocky landscape. But at its melting edges, the ice was weak. It creaked and groaned like an old man, the lamenting sound
of rushing channels caused by melt water reverberating in the still air. This causes the edge of the ice sheet to retreat, exposing more of the black desert below. With my camera I set out to express the landscape with regards to elements of the sublime, and ephemerality ultimately alluding to the ice sheet’s isolation, fragility and fleeting existence. Crunch, crunch, crunch, like breaking glass, our boots make contact with the ice, halting my train of thought. Trying not to fall, we began hiking over rolling hills of white, leaping across small blue streams carving their way through the icescape. Finally we found hidden treasure: a patch of flat ice perfect for setting up camp. We dropped off the tent and camera gear and make our way back to last night’s campsite to retrieve the remainder of our belongings. If only we could recalibrate time to this vital moment, this one critical mistake. We had left the GPS at the previous campsite and naively assumed we could find our new site on the ice upon our return. Oh how wrong we were. With our remaining gear packed on to our backs, we returned to the ice, carefully looking out for the tent and camera gear. It was no use. We wandered for what seemed like hours. The steep slopes of jaw dropping beauty and grandeur became slippery death traps. We had wandered further and higher than planned, into a dangerous desert of icy peaks and white cliffs. As the sun began to set, I climbed one last peak, desperate for a small spot of black which could be a camera bag, or part of our tent. I thought it was a mirage when I spotted a dark item 30 metres away. I called out to
Talia, teetering atop a tall peak just within hearing distance. Carefully and disbelievingly she made her way down the peak towards me. Together we trudged cautiously onwards towards our tent, camera bags, wallets and passports that were almost left behind. ‘Phew’, we sighed, and tried not to think of what might have happened if I hadn’t spotted the barely visible black dot in the distance. In the now fading light we hammered our tent into the rock hard ice. We cooked ourselves a hard-earned hot meal and warmed our insides with hot chocolates, in awe of our new and mesmerising backyard. The experience was surreal. Like a desert, the ice enveloped us. Golden light reflected off the icy silhouette as the ceaseless blue sky turned a dusky pink. It was hard to believe this ancient and impressive landscape could be the cause of global worry, panic and confusion. Greenland’s ice sheet, called Sermersuaq in Greenlandic, is the second largest body of ice in the world after the Antarctic ice sheet. It consists of layers of snow compressed over more than 100,000 years and covers 80 per cent of Greenland’s surface. Ice samples drilled in recent decades have provided scientists with a valuable record of climate data, including temperatures, ocean volume, precipitation, volcanic eruptions, sea surface productivity, desert extent and even forest fires. Due to its position in the Arctic, Sermersuaq is especially vulnerable to climate change and has demonstrated unprecedented melting in recent years, contributing towards what scientists call the ‘tipping point’. It is predicted the entire ice sheet will melt in about 2,000 years, the result of which
very rays that were warming our freezing â€˜The hands were also eating away the ice, bit by bit.â€™
would be a global catastrophe. If the entire 2,850,000 cubic kilometres of ice were to melt, it would result in a global sea level rise of six metres and impact nearly all major coastal cities. It was incredibly humbling to sit on the ice and think about the ice sheet’s importance in the future of our world. The very rays that were warming our freezing hands were also eating away the ice, bit by bit. Before long my cold fingers began to itch for my camera. I loaded the film and set out on the ice once again – making sure not to wander too far this time. After my last frame the sun began to quietly exit the scene and the temperatures began to plummet. On came more layers under our down jackets, wooly hats and gloves. As the last of the sun’s rays set, my mental focus changed from the landscape itself to what may roam upon it under the night’s cloak of darkness. I began to worry about polar bears. They are rare in this area but it only takes one to
thrust us into life-threatening danger. I tossed and turned in my sleep as wind howled across the ice. But my hot chocolate had got the better of me. I could hold on no longer and ventured out into the dark and freezing wilderness in search of a makeshift toilet. Eyes peeled for bears, I looked swiftly around the tent and stared into the distant shadows. Instead of the brilliant white they had been, they had become dark and ominous during the night. The rolling mounds of ice would be perfect for concealing an eager and hungry polar bear. I can honestly say that I’ve never been so frightened in my life. The tripod was a potential defence weapon, even though I knew it would be no use if a bear crossed our path. During my fourth or fifth scout outside I noticed what appeared to be a green smudge across the sky. Minutes later the sky erupted with swirls of green magic. The elusive northern lights had come to grace us with their presence. I quickly woke Talia and, still
tucked in our many layers and sleeping bags inside the tent, we popped our heads out of the rear door and gazed wide-eyed at the beautiful light display. Our adventure on the Greenland ice sheet was by far the highlight of our three-month Arctic journey. The isolation, vastness, purity and global importance has always fascinated me as a photographer. It was a rare experience and one that may never be replicated because of the accelerated pace of climate change. 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
SURVIVING THE SAHARA WORDS: Sam Taylor IMAGES: Hollie Woodhouse and supplied
In April 2015, Sam Taylor was one of five from the team Running for Rangers who competed in the Marathon des Sables, a 260 kilometres foot race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Together they raised over US $115,000 for rangers’ welfare across the private wildlife conservancies in Kenya. Sam shares with us his extremely entertaining perspective of going from a 20-cigarettes-a-day non-runner to a salad-eating ultramarathon runner.
MY SISTER-IN-LAW Hollie is an athlete. She is fit, healthy, positive and wholesome. She is also a blogger, and uses words like “awesome” to describe marathons that ordinarily I would call a “prick of a thing”. That I somehow ended up doing an ultra marathon across the Sahara with her is a phenomenon that warrants explanation. Similarly, I think it’s important that I include the perspective of the Marathon des Sables from somebody who is not a salad-eating masochist. Firstly, I need to state that I don’t like running. Weirdly, I used to be pretty good at it – mainly because I had a tendency to provide constructive criticism to big drunks in pubs, or made up for my fairly average skill set on the rugby field with a big mouth. Both these unfortunate habits required a good turn of pace to ensure survival. Critically, however, the distance generally ranged from 20 to 50 metres, at which point the drunk had fallen over or thrown his pint glass and the prop whose family member I may or may not have slandered had collapsed out of breath. I had no experience in running 260 kilometres across the desert. This was, however, what I ended up doing. And the fault was entirely my own. I work on Borana Conservancy in Kenya, where I look after the wildlife and security. My men are trained by an ex-soldier called Pete. Sadly Pete joined the army at 15 and as such is partial to things like eating re-constituted dehydrated food, cold showers and running long distances for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, as I entrusted my rangers to this lunatic,
I felt duty bound to undertake some of the tasks Pete set for them – one of which is fitness. It was on one of these training camps that my mouth over rode my brain, as it often wants to do. “Lets do the Marathon des Sables”, I said to Pete. Immediately I realised my error, as the battle hardened soldier jumped up like an excited labrador and shouted “yes! Let’s!” Momentarily alarmed, and having realised that military types don’t really understand sarcasm, I immediately calmed down. I had heard how notoriously difficult it is to get a place, and if we tried to get an entry in 2016 I had plenty of time to pull a hamstring, get fired or any do a number of things to avoid having to jog across the Sahara desert. In fact, I became cocky. Despite having no intention of doing it, I began telling people over drinks that I was planning to conquer the desert next year. I was to be a heterosexual, jogging Lawrence of Arabia, a colossus in Lycra. I began to enjoy the admiring looks from people who said, “You’re crazy!” “It’ll be fairly tough” I would reply, hoping my understatement would induce yet more admiration. “It’s two hundred and fifty kilometres, you know – fifty degree heat…” I would say in an off-hand manner, smoking my 20th cigarette of the day. I never had any intention of doing it – it was just hugely satisfying to brag to people. I still had plenty of time to fake an injury, have a psychological breakdown, get fired or deported. Anything really. “You’re going to have to do this, you
know”, said my wife, Flick. “You’ve already boasted to all two of your friends – you can’t get out of it now. I’ll talk to Hollie, I know she’d be keen”. I didn’t really pay attention to this, and so that evening you can imagine my horror when Flick got off the phone to her twin sister to say that Hollie had got us a place, and for this year, not next, as I had planned on. Worse still, we were all signed up. We had six months. All those people I had bragged to now had no time to forget. Basically I was screwed. Understandably, I went into a small rage at my wife, who merely smiled smugly and laughed at the sight of her husband now rocking with fear and mumbling to himself. Nonetheless I took the bull by the horns and the next morning I put on my running gear and went straight to the computer where I Googled the Marathon des Sables. I was inundated with thousands of suggestions about what shoes to buy, food to take and types of backpack to carry everything in. I read these thoroughly and then decided to buy some red shoes, as they are generally the fastest. I also ordered some skin-tight running gear that the people in the pictures seemed to wear. Opting for a “medium”, I subsequently discovered that a “medium” in the world of long distance running is the equivalent size of an anorexic glutenfree Ethiopian hobbit in the 80s. Nonetheless, I squeezed into what amounted to a teenage girls crop top, put on my red shoes, had a final drag of my cigarette and started jogging. The first 300 metres were not unpleasant. The next 600 metres were incredibly
Image: WAA – What An Adventure
boring and the last 100 metres were just plain exhausting. I stopped for another smoke break to contemplate how my training could be improved and decided to go back to Google. There I discovered many other things about this race. Firstly, it was more like joining a cult. There were secret groups to join in Facebook, full of people wearing bandannas and headbands talking about cadence, heart rates, nutrition and other such things that were neither interesting nor useful. They were both wholesome and creepy all at the same time, and delighted in encouraging people whilst intimidating them simultaneously. I left that group, and, at a loss, I decided to buy more things on the Internet. I bought a backpack that others seemed to recommend, that had so many straps it looked more like a small hammock. I bought a heart rate monitor and corresponding watch – critical for knowing how close you are to cardiac
arrest and exactly what time it will be when you collapse. Fully equipped, it seemed now that I would actually have to become a runner. I started running respectable distances. I started monitoring my heart. Slowly I became one of those people. I stopped smoking and started eating salad. I drank light beer sparingly and became obsessed with being ‘hydrated’. Soon I was taking on more water than the Rainbow Warrior. More importantly, I developed the smugness that I used to associate with the healthy. I think I even ate muesli one morning. Days, weeks and months drifted by, and soon it was time to head to Morocco to finish what my stupid mouth had started. My team mates: Soldier Pete, Hollie and her friend Jacqs, and Joss, another young fellow who unsuspectingly got caught up in Pete’s enthusiasm, were all there at Gatwick, ready to board the plane to Morocco.
Around us were all our competitors. They were all dressed in neon-sporting gear – tracksuits, running gaiters, running packs. I, not wanting to appear too keen had put all my gear in the luggage, and was wearing a leather jacket and jeans. A number of gaiterwearing muesli-eaters pointed out to me the inappropriateness of my attire. “Bugger off ” I replied. Taking the ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, stay away from ‘em’ approach, I retained this spirit of non-compliance with these running nerds all the way to the desert. Now there are many books written about the desert. Many people (including the thousand or so lunatics who were just about to voluntarily run across it) wax lyrical about the splendour and majesty of the dunes. I beg to differ. It’s a barren wasteland. In fact it’s so grim, that in the millions of years of evolution, nothing has decided to try to live there. Apart from scorpions. And that was presumably
Image: WAA â€“ What An Adventure
Image: WAA – What An Adventure
because, like ultra marathon runners, no one liked them. We arrived at the first bivouac where we learned how the week was to play out. Essentially we would queue for bottles of water, sleep on a carpet, under another carpet held up by sticks, shit in a plastic bag, watch other people shit in a bag, watch French people shit everywhere but in a bag, and eat powdered food that we carried in our backpacks. When we weren’t doing that we ran in one long exhausted line, in blistering heat, across the desert after some Moroccans, (who presumably knew they were in a race, and not just being chased by a bunch of sunburnt Brits and unhygienic Frenchies trying to steal their couscous). I had no epiphany. I had no spiritual moment. I was just tired. The whole time. With sore feet, and a sunburnt neck. Amazingly, however, I was the lucky one. Every one of my teammates (including the two quite entertaining Brits who had joined us) had feet that looked like sausage meat that had
burst out of its skin. They were weirdly cheerful about this, and delighted in showing everyone else how buggered their feet were. Pete’s were the worst. His feet looked like those of a man who had just played hopscotch through a minefield. He should have stopped but weirdly he got faster. And more upbeat. Now, I am a man who resents enthusiasm. Usually, I reserve the right to whinge, and I particularly reserve the right to bring down optimists. However, a weird thing happened to me out there. I became a born-again happy-clapping running freak. I started laughing at shit jokes. I even offered to help a Welshman who was hobbling around camp like Gandalf. Even the sanitary challenged continentals didn’t annoy me so much. And like the Vontrap family we all skipped across the finish line having completed 260 kilometres. It was a fantastic feeling, and while we engaged in an awkward three-way head-clashing hug, I even became mildly emotional.
I am now hooked on these adventures. Next year I plan to run 230 kilometres through the Amazon Jungle in Peru. It will cost me a fortune, and I’ll hate every minute leading up to it. But I’m going to do it. Because finishing was “awesome” as my sister-in-law would say. DONATIONS To find out how you can donate towards Running for Rangers, please visit their website www.runningforrangers.com/ support-us. Sam Taylor is the Chief Conservation Officer at Borana Conservancy, Kenya. The Marathon des Sables was his first ultra race and he is looking forward to eating a lot of salad and muesli before his next adventure. www.borana.co.ke F www.facebook.com/boranaconservancy www.instagram.com/boranalodge t www.twitter.com/boranaranch www.forrangers.com F www.facebook.com/ForRangers www.instagram.com/runningforrangers t www.twitter.com/ForRangers
JAMIE IS RUNNING WORDS: Jamie Ramsay IMAGES: Jamie Ramsay and supplied
Image: Cris-Ian Garcia
Jamie Ramsay is currently attempting to run from Vancouver to Buenos Aires. The total distance is about 18,000 kilometres, passes through 14 countries (Canada, USA, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina) and is equivalent to about 428 marathons. He is doing this completely solo, which means he needs to push all his equipment in a Thule Cheetah children’s stroller while also organising all the daily logistics and admin. He says it’s a lot of work but worth every minute of it. Say Yes to Adventure spoke to Jamie about his adventure. What inspired you to take on a challenge of this scale?
Why did you choose to run and why this route?
There are so many great British adventurers at the moment and they are doing the most amazing things. I watched them on TV, read about them in the papers and got so jealous. In the end I realised that I was the only one who was stopping myself from going on my own adventure. I had worked in London for 12 years and had a good career, so in order to put that all on hold I had to come up with something that I would look back on and be proud of and wasn’t just an excuse to go travelling. Fortunately all the hurdles I had built up in my mind sorted themselves out.
Everyone has their thing. For some it is cycling, others it’s motorbikes, but for me it’s always been running. I have run city marathons, marathons in Kenyan safari parks and through Vietnam. Running is just my thing and I wanted to see if I could do running on an epic scale.
I also wanted to do something that made me proud of myself. When I finish this I will be able to look back and say: “I did that, I pushed myself beyond what I thought was possible.”
Has this expedition been done before? In all honesty I have no idea, but I don’t think so. I did some research before I left and couldn’t find any other completed attempts. While it would be cool if this is a first, it is not the driver behind the expedition. Rather than striving to get recognition from others, I am doing this because I want to. If I wanted it to be a record or a first I am sure I could make it into one but there are more important things in life.
Coming up with the route was difficult. As a runner there are some limitations that you need to take into account and time and money are big factors there. I originally wanted to run around the world but when I started investigating the possibility, so many things made it difficult to do alone such as visas, languages, the weather and war zones. I then investigated London to Cape Town and the same hurdles arose. A friend then suggested the Americas. The more I looked at it the more it made sense. With a British passport the borders should be manageable, there are only two main languages (English and Spanish) and if I timed it well then the weather shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Why are you not running from Alaska to Ushuaia? 18,000 kilometres in 18 months had a nice ring to it. This is an expedition I wanted to do, not an attempt to set any records. You never know, I may carry on south but let’s get to Buenos Aires first!
Running must limit what you can carry. How do you manage to cater for everything you need to survive? I have to push it all and believe me that makes you very picky about what is important. The kit is split into three groups: 1) Essential survival – this includes the tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, clothes, first aid etc. I was very lucky and had the best possible equipment donated by top brands. 2) Luxuries – this includes nice clothes, computers, books etc. This changes as I go. It is all essentially extra weight, but when you are on the road for 18 months you need to make sure you are comfortable. 3) Food and water – this is an ongoing struggle that changes daily. You need to calculate where you can replenish supplies and make sure that you have enough to survive. It’s all part of the fun!
There must be good times and bad with a trip like this. What has been the biggest challenge and biggest highlight of the expedition so far? There are indeed but I am pleased to say the good far outweigh the bad. The biggest challenge is to keep motivation and determination high when things start to crumble around you. If you react negatively then things can only get worse. I have had days with six punctures in my stroller, computers breaking or just the mileage getting too
are so many unknowns â€˜There and obstacles to overcome and for me that is exhilarating.â€™
much. But you learn to rise above the bad times and not let them affect you. I hope I can take this learning back to everyday life. It sounds like a cliché but the highlights are the people. There is rarely a day that passes without someone trying to help in some way or other. The generosity I have received has been overwhelming and ranges from food and shelter to money and safe passage over the Sea of Cortez.
Have you ever felt out of your comfort zone? In all honesty I haven’t and I put that in part down to planning. We all love hearing stories of danger, but in reality if you are putting yourself in those situations then you are potentially risking your whole expedition and what’s the upside in that? It may sound boring but I am quite sensible. I only run during the day, I don’t go out and get drunk or look for trouble. If there is an easy option, such as an affordable hotel, I will take it. Putting myself in the absolutely best possible position to succeed is of paramount importance.
As you spend a lot of time alone, what have you learnt about yourself? We are all capable of achieving so much more than we think. When I took my first few steps I seriously doubted whether I could achieve this, but as the expedition has progressed I have learnt to believe in myself more. When things go wrong I have the confidence to face the problems without letting anger or doubt cloud my thinking.
How do you plan the day-to-day logistics while literally on the run? A lot of people think I planned this expedition in minute detail but that is really not the case. When I left London I knew I was running from Vancouver to Buenos Aires, I knew I would cover about 30-40 kilometres a day and
apart from that very little was actually planned. Each day I listen to my body and determine how far I think I can run. I then consult the map and look for potential shelter, places to buy food etc. and then set off. It sounds very haphazard and it is, but the more you experience the more you learn and the better you get. When it comes down to it you need to trust your instincts. For instance, in Mexico the maps I have are very unreliable so you learn to make assumptions. If two roads intersect a main road then there is probably a settlement and that means food, water and shelter. It doesn’t always work out but you’d be surprised at how much you can learn.
What is the financial cost of doing a trip like this? Do you have sponsorship? I am anticipating that the total living cost will be about £10,000 for the full 18 months but I am striving to bring that down. I try to live off about £20 a day but this includes replacing kit; for instance running shoes alone will probably cost about £2,000. I currently don’t have the full funding in place but I am not going to let that stop me. I’ve heard of other expeditions that have been cancelled because they didn’t have the funds in place. I had a choice of sitting at home hoping people would hand me the funds or getting out there and proving I was worth backing. I run with my fingers crossed that someone will see my expedition as an opportunity and help me get to the finish line. I have been very fortunate to have a number of kit suppliers and without their generosity I wouldn’t have been able to even start.
Do you get compared to Forrest Gump a lot? Of course I do and to be honest I shamelessly encourage it. I haven’t shaved or cut my hair since I left Vancouver and I wear a Bubba Gump
Shrimp cap. I love that Forrest decided to go for a run “for no particular reason”. He didn’t do it to set records or achieve something before anyone else. He just did it because he wanted to run.
Do you see yourself as an ‘adventurer’? If so, why? I love adventure and that is what makes this expedition so amazing for me. Most days I wake up and have no idea where I am going to end up. There are so many unknowns and obstacles to overcome and for me that is exhilarating. Sometimes it’s not knowing if you can find somewhere safe to sleep or you find that your clean water is running low. The adrenalin starts pumping and only intensifies until the situation is resolved. If adventure is “an unusual and exciting or daring experience” then this expedition has it by the bucket loads. An adventurer is a “person who enjoys and/or seeks adventure” and adventure is “an unusual and exciting or daring experience”. If we agree with these definitions then I would say that I am adventurer whose chosen method of transport is running.
What do you like most about being on the open road? Complete freedom and the unknown. Every morning I wake up and I have one thing I need to accomplish and that is move south. Once I am on the road I am experiencing new things, learning new things and seeing things I could never imagine. It is so liberating. We spend most of our lives living a very predictable existence and taking away the walls makes life a whole lot more exciting.
What do your friends and family think of you tackling such an extreme challenge? I think there are a wide range of reactions. Of course everyone thinks I am a little crazy but I think a lot of
friends are jealous that I am able to undertake such a huge expedition. Most of them are sitting at home with their wives or husbands and learning how to change nappies. I think quite a few of them are living vicariously through my adventures. I think my family just accept that I am not going to follow a normal path though I think my mother would quite like me to settle down at some stage and start a family. Who knows maybe that will be the adventure that will prove the most challenging and rewarding for me! Before I announce an expedition I usually tell a few friends and gauge their response. I then ask my brothers and sister and then move on to the parents. Asking my Dad is the last sanity check. I thought someone would turn round and say “you can’t do that, don’t be mad” but at no point did anyone try to dissuade me. Hopefully this is because they believe in me and not just because they wanted rid of me!
You must meet some extremely interesting people along the way. How do they react when you tell them you’re running from Vancouver to Buenos Aires?
gob smacked, especially when they see me sipping a cold beer at the end of the day rather than a protein shake!
I feel disbelief is the first reaction, then intrigue. The great thing about being on the open road is you meet so many like-minded people who have all set out to challenge themselves in some way. We all have chosen different ways of achieving our goals but there is a camaraderie that is hard to find elsewhere. You only ever meet people for a short time so you just try to extract as much inspiration from them as possible. I met an amazing German chap, aged 69, who was cycling round the world by himself and camping everywhere. He was so positive and hungry for adventure and it just gave me that extra push to keep going.
I am lucky to have some amazing kit that has been provided by some of the best companies in each category, be it my Force Ten tent or Trangia cooker. But if I had to choose one piece of equipment as my absolutely most important piece of equipment it would have to be good running shoes. Without them I would not be able to run at all and the expedition would have finished 1,000s of kilometres before now. Adidas have been very generous and have agreed to provide all the running shoes for the South American part of the expedition. One of the pairs is the Ultra Boost which is cushioned and supportive but what really excites me is that they are designed to return energy with every step. Should be useful when crossing the Andes!
At first I don’t think people believe me then they just think I am slightly crazy. Running an expedition of this scale is rarely attempted so people are pretty
What is the most important piece of equipment you have?
What are the charities which you raising money for? Why did you chose these particular ones? Each time I do an expedition or event I try to raise money for a different charity. This time I chose three great charities: CALM – Calm is a charity that looks to raise awareness about male suicide and provide help lines for those who need someone to talk to. For many, admitting weakness and asking for help is regarded as “unmanly”. These kind of stereotypes need to be addressed. Macmillan Cancer Support – Cancer is a cruel disease that attacks indiscriminately. I don’t think there is a single person who hasn’t been touched by cancer and Macmillan do such amazing work. WaterAid – Clean drinking water should be something available to everyone, everywhere. When you don’t have a tap you can just turn on you really realise how important it is and
how much we take it for granted. Our help can make such huge differences to communities and I want to help promote that message.
What would be your advice to someone looking to undertake an expedition of this scale? While I love the “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to adventures I do wish that I had spent a little more time on admin before I left. Having a prearranged postal address in each country would have been clever. I would also strive to keep daily admin down to a bare minimum. I thought I would just be out there running and exploring but in reality I spend as much time working on admin as I do running. This could have been avoided if I had just dedicated more time pre departure.
What’s next? Will you take on another expedition of this scale? I would love to take on another expedition of this scale but next time I would like to do that as part of a team.
I have met so many couples who are on a voyage of discovery and they will get to share that for life. Ideas for the next expedition are not the problem… swimming the Atlantic or running a marathon in every European country on consecutive days sound fun. I just need to find the right person to share it with. I also need to create some little adventurers for the future so they can carry my equipment when I get older. *At the time of printing Jamie has completed over 10,000 kilometres of his epic journey and is currently in Santander de Quilichao, just south of Cali in Southern Colombia. Jamie Ramsay is a 35 year old British Adventure Runner who is based in Fulham, London. Jamie has run on five different continents and is passionate about anything adventurous, especially if it involves endurance. www.jamieisrunning.com F www.facebook.com/Jamieisrunning www.instagram.com/jamieisrunning t www.twitter.com/Jamieisrunning
PHOTOGRAPHING THE WORLD FROM THE WATER WORDS AND IMAGES: Lisa Michele Burns
Looking at the world through goggles and a lens is my ideal perspective. The thrill of floating around the ocean with flippers on my feet and the unknown below is the reason I choose to create images from the water. UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY IS a field that refuses to fit the mould. You won’t find a textbook that shows diagrams on exactly how to do it, nor will you find one photographer whose work is the same as another. Every wave, every ocean and every lake is distinctive and is what makes underwater imagery such an exciting creative outlet, an adventure every time you jump in. I became hooked when my first underwater camera housing arrived four years ago. I was living on a tropical island in northern Australia and I had been dreaming up the ideal test shoot: to capture a woman in a long white dress gliding through the Coral Sea like a mermaid. Once a willing client said yes, I ordered my housing and we jumped in the ocean at Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island. My obsession was ignited. The tides, water clarity, subject and of course marine life, all come into play and need to interact in order for the shot to succeed. The mermaid shoot was an integral learning curve as I realised it wasn’t just about shooting like you would above water. It’s about reading the elements and being patient while you tread water and hold your finger at the ready on the shutter. Shortly after my first mermaid shoot I turned my focus to photographing split level landscapes and it’s this style that keeps me entertained no matter where I go in the world. Intrigued by the ability to see two sides at once, the technical challenge is as exciting as exploring new destinations with a unique perspective. Showcasing the underwater world and coastal land formations in one photograph changes the way you see places. Now I’m constantly on the hunt for that perfect body of water, whether it is a deep
puddle beside the road or a beach with jagged cliffs behind. So far on my hunt I’ve found alpine lakes in New Zealand, raging rivers in France and of course the beaches of Australia that never fail to provide some great shots. Two corners of the world, however, have simply wowed me. If you’re about to spin a globe to randomly find your next shoot location, you’ll want your finger to point a little north of New Zealand, south of Hawaii and just west of French Polynesia. Land here and you’ll soon be arriving in the most idyllic underwater haven for photography. The tiny island of Aitutaki is part of the Cook Islands group, an island nation sitting in the expansive Pacific Ocean. Don’t go thinking it’s one of those touristy package holiday destinations though. While you can certainly jump in a hotel pool and no doubt order a cocktail or two, the vibe of Aitutaki extends way beyond that of your typical tropical destination. Aitutaki Lagoon is the place of dreams and has a collection of idyllic islands dotted within the reef that borders it. It’s easy to see why film crews love this gem. The sand banks and deep lagoon channels hugging the islands highlight rainbows of blues. I could already see underwater without even reaching for my goggles but the water was just begging to be photographed. Exploring with my camera I jumped into the clearest water I’ve ever experienced and stayed bobbing around for hours. Anyone who has attempted underwater photography would know it’s all about the clarity. Here it’s as clear as bottled mineral water. My mind went into overload thinking of the photographic possibilities and I was almost overwhelmed at just how picture-perfect the scene was.
is something special about jumping â€˜There off a boat into the deepest water, without any land in sight for miles. â€™
Location number two is a little more popular: The Maldives. The name immediately conjures up visions of paradise with luxury hotels, overwater bungalows, honeymooners strolling hand in hand at sunset; the complete romantic dream. Envision though arriving on your own, surrounded by loved up couples staring at you for the sole reason that you lack a companion. Little did they know mine (my camera) was safely tucked away in my luggage. This string of 1,200 coral atolls sits pretty in the Indian Ocean and offers a world of underwater adventures. It’s hardly a secret destination, but what is still relatively unknown is that you can tour the Maldives without setting foot on an island resort; no spas, no deck chairs and no butler on hand to apply your sunscreen.
You can jump on board a traditional Maldivian Dhoni (motor boat) and cruise your way to uninhabited islands, catch your own dinner fresh from the ocean and sleep under the stars. The water clarity is so picture-perfect you can watch a two centimetre long reef fish turn into a two metre coral cod before your very eyes as it gracefully floats to the surface. I shot in the ocean at the aptly named Turtle Point for almost an entire day. There is something special about jumping off a boat into the deepest water, without any land in sight for miles. I haven’t always been so keen on not seeing the ocean floor, but when turtles start appearing it’s well worth the fear factor. Island locations have the advantage of warm, clear water and screensaverworthy scenes, but for the year ahead
I’ll be heading to the Mediterranean. With a shoot list of fishing villages and colourful towns clinging to cliffs, I’m aiming to showcase Europe from the ocean. Flippers are going to be the new fashion statement in St Tropez this summer, I just know it. Lisa Michele Burns is a self-taught Australian photographer who prefers flippers to heels. Based in France, she is the founder of The Wandering Lens, a travel blog and location scout guide to photographing the world. www.thewanderinglens.com F www.facebook.com/thewanderinglens www.instagram.com/the_wanderinglens t www.twitter.com/wandering_lens
Beth-Emily is an Australian illustrator and artist, recognised for her intricate and gloriously fluid artworks exploring flora, fauna and landscapes. In both her professional and personal work, she explores the relationship between nature and herself â€œoften drawing from my own experiences and journeys.â€? www.beth-emily.com www.instagram.com/bethemily
DREAM BIG, SEE MORE WORDS AND IMAGES: Ryan Anderson
Chile is a nation of 18 million people, spread along South America’s 4,270 kilometres South Pacific coastline, making it the world’s longest country north-to-south, while only reaching 177 kilometres from east to west. From its southern-most tip in Chilean Patagonia up to its northern flank, lies one of the most magnificent mountain ranges to be found anywhere on earth – The Andes. They rise from the South Pacific Ocean to an average altitude of over 4,000 metres, and play host to some of the most incredible terrain in the world – in the right conditions of course.
IT WAS THE allure of these mountains and the promise of their rewards that had brought Roland Morley Brown, Clint Allan, filmmaker Andrew ‘Shorty’ Buckley and me over to Chile in the first place. It was also these mountains that would eventually lead to the highest of highs and lowest of lows during our time spent there. Chile is considered by some as the ‘Switzerland of the South’ – minus the blonde hair and blue eyes. On arrival to Santiago – Chile’s capital city – we were happily greeted with a $140 visa fee, if you’re from Australia that is. Thankfully, the Kiwis in our group were home free with our New Zealand passports and managed to avoid it. Driving through Santiago we got a very obvious sense of a societal divide. There appeared to be a huge gap between the lower and upper classes. The city has buildings that reek of the
frivolous attitude of their investors, while nearby half-finished housing projects lay abandoned. I would even go as far to say that the city seemed like a bit of a dump. Thanks to Steven from The North Face, we were lucky enough to have a pre-arranged car rental that offered us an instant escape on arrival. Looking out the window as we made our way out beyond the city limits, I could see a dry and baron appearance of the mountains lining the horizon. The sun was only just setting and I wasn’t sure if the alpenglow was obscuring my perception, but the peaks looked very bare! We were headed for the famous ski resort Valle Nevado. At this point, all of us had an open mind regarding snow conditions in the alpine area, but nothing could have really prepared us for the actual reality of the landscape.
Think what you will about climate change, but if you found yourself in our position there wouldn’t be a shred of doubt in your mind. The base of Valle Nevado sits at an incredible altitude of 3,000 metres above sea level, so you’d think there would be snow in early August. On this day, you could have sworn it was midsummer. Most people were out enjoying the scenery wearing little more than chinos and a tee shirt. The balmy conditions were a distraction, but it didn’t hinder our desire to get out there and find something that we could ride. The next morning we kitted up and caught three lifts up to where we’d been told there could be a few windblown pockets of snow. Valle Nevado has an outstanding top elevation of 5,430 metres and over 7,000 acres of skiable terrain; we figured it couldn’t be that hard. We spent a few days milking what we
could from such a diverse resort. But we were constantly left looking in the distance to where most would usually traverse to the lines and cliff drops that would normally be possible to ride. Nevertheless, the resort provided us with more than enough incredible sunsets, side hits and social hype to enjoy ourselves. After three days of warm slush and summer nights, we knew we needed to move on. So with that in mind it was a case of checking the weather reports, forecast and satellite images to take a punt on somewhere else. We hit the road south to another somewhat renowned region called Termas de Chillán, which is situated further inland. Unfortunately, it was about a five-hour drive south of Santiago but with over 10,000 hectares of terrain, we thought it would be worth the risk. Clint knew a few people who were already in the town, so we figured it must be a good place to go. The next morning we were headed to the resort and had a slight misinterpretation with what we were to expect. The report had said two feet of fresh snow, but our snowboards told us two feet of ice. It was super windy with flat light and we could do nothing more than shred the side hits and pow pockets. It was yet another day where we were defeated by the mountains. Upon return to the cabin, we received news that Valle Nevado had just been struck by fresh snow. So after getting back in the truck and driving for another five hours, we laid our heads in anticipation for the morning. After all that driving and slogging we figured ‘why give up now?’ We made contact with a local snowmobile guide and got wind that the weather up top was rubbish, but there could be a few
windows over the next few days. We packed the truck and drove south to the Volcan region where we were told by our host to “meet an old lady at a big house past the town by the statue over the road”, adding, “Oh and there won’t be any phone reception and there’s no actual address so just drive till you see lights on a house.” Not the most reassuring of directions. Following the instructions, we ended up at a Copper Mine. It was a dead end to nowhere, with next to no fuel left in the tank. So back down the mountain we went. It had been a hard drive, but not long before midnight we made it to a random gate. I could barely see the house on the hill, as there was an eerie fog rolling into the valley, but I could have sworn I could see a figure walking down a windy gravel road toward us. Thankfully we were welcomed by ‘the old lady at the house’ and shown to our beds. Random is not quite the right word, but it was strange. It was one of those moments that becomes burned into your memory; the kind of story you hope to tell your grandchildren one day. With next to no English spoken by this lovely lady, we went about our business. We woke to a crew of people and eggs on toast. Not long after awakening to this strange situation, Christian – who we discovered would be our guide – from Dos Tiempos backcountry arrived and explained that the mountain was shrouded in cloud. Our options were to stay in the hut or chance it and head on up with the hope for sun. The decision didn’t take us long, we were going. We weren’t aware at the time, but the previous night, Tor Lundstrom and Kevin Backstrom had rolled into the Homestead later than we did and had the same plans as us. We were all slightly edgy about what we were
to expect, as we’d had some pretty marginal days and the energy levels were low, but we were all super stoked to feel good snow cover under the sled track and we could even see the sun peeking through the thinning clouds. We got busy straight away. Clint got stuck into building a kicker up on a cornice and Roland was hunting out a few gnarly lines from access points that looked like heli-shred material. Over the days we’d spent traversing the landscape, it became apparent that Chile is like no other country when it comes to snowboarding. Even though it was a low-tide year for snow, Chile is baron, harsh and gnarly. The conditions we had were far detached from any I have ever experienced but after all the stress, heartache and torment over the search, it reminded us all that this is why we do it. We love to travel and we love to snowboard. We all have the switch inside us that refuses to be turned off. If we stop dreaming and stop travelling, we will all miss out on those moments in time that define our existence. With our date to leave Chile edging closer we made the last few days count before driving back to Santiago. The diverse culture across the land we had travelled was awesome. Chile is an epic country; a must visit if you get the opportunity. Adiós Amigos. Ryan Anderson is a Kiwi photographer based in Sydney, Australia. He specialises in snowboarding, surfing, adventure photography and travel journalism. www.ryananderson.co.nz F www.facebook.com/ RyanAndersonPhotography www.instagram.com/ryanandersonphoto
THE TRAILS OF AZORES WORDS AND IMAGES: Antonio Abreu
Twenty-two years ago, my mother visited Azores for the first time. I was just a three-year-old tricycle addicted kid, and couldn’t go due to chickenpox. My mother brought back memories, words, photos, moments, shared with joy along these years. She still talks about those nine mysterious Portuguese islands when she’s cooking lunch. “I want to go back there one more time, I have to”, she says. From that moment on, I started dreaming about that place: the huge green fields, the cows that live freely, the hot water boiled stew. Those nine pieces of land magically immersed from the Atlantic Ocean. Now, two decades later, it’s my turn to experience Azores.
Azores, when a tree is thirty years, ‘In it’s cut down, and a new one is planted in its spot. ’ I START READING the in-flight magazine, even knowing that it will be a fast trip from São Miguel, the biggest island, to Santa Maria. 15 minutes later the SATA Bombardier Q400 touches ground. There’s no catering service on this flight and no time to finish reading an interesting article about the Azores agriculture and delicious cheeses, for which many of the islands are known. As the two old and noisy engines stop rotating, I take a deep breath and look outside the airplane window. It’s already dark and I wonder what surprises are hiding out there. I can barely control my excitement of riding Azores and its untouched nature.
The trail to Santa Bárbara is two weeks old, and we’re the first guys to test it. It’s an old path that goes up Santa Maria’s only mountain, filled with natural tunnels, stonewalls, and huge branchless trees. In Azores, when a tree is thirty years, it’s cut down, and a new one is planted in its spot. This way, the wood has better quality and there’s more of a chance for younger and smaller ones to grow. Even so, the forest is quite dense and humid all year long. The trail is filled with many switchbacks. Our ancestors did a great job, they had no idea that two hundred years later we would be going down those trails for fun.
As morning comes, the yellow and bright sun light shines through the window and even being in the city centre of Santa Maria, you can hear cows in the background. As I open the lodge’s curtains, suddenly waking up the other two sleepy heads, I take a quick look outside and a warm light and majestic green field greets me. The night drizzle has made the colours look brighter.
Riding in Santa Maria means that you’ll always start in the same place, the highest mountain in the area, Pico Alto, at 586 metres high. Even though it’s not as high as you’d want it to be, there are six main trails that end up on all sides of the island. Our first ride goes down to Santa Bárbara, at 210 metres above sea level. From steep sections to infinite switchbacks, the moist weather of Santa Maria doesn’t create much grip on the trails. “You are lucky guys, today is not that slippery”, says Luis after clearing one of the biggest and steepest sections of the trail, filled with roots from top to bottom. “This is like playing roulette. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It’s all about luck to get to the bottom”, says Rui, ready to launch over the huge roots.
In the air there’s a grassy fragrance... before my tyres rolled over a big pile of cow crap. “Cows are in charge here. If you rolled over their belongings... you’re not in the correct line”, says our guide for the week Luis, while laughing. Electrical cables, barbwire and huge stonewalls separate private lands from public lands and bicycle trails. This way you feel pretty safe riding down those trails, especially knowing that the Azores government has a policy that gives assignments to the unemployed to clean and maintain the tracks all year long.
After more than twenty minutes riding down, we arrive to the old village of Santa Bárbara. The houses are all open and there’s no one outside. We hear the church bell letting us know that it’s one
o’clock. “Everybody knows each other here, that’s why the keys are always in the ignition of their vehicles”, says our driver, Miguel. “Hey, Mrs. Dulce, there are people here to see you.” An old lady comes out smiling from the inside of a small one-floor house, freshly painted white with blue windows. “Hi kids, are you enjoying Santa Bárbara?” she asks, excited to see new faces around town. She opens her old coffee bar just for us. We drink a warm espresso from the old coffee machine of Mrs. Dulce, while a traveling supermarket goes by, claiming to have the best wine, corn and bread. We hop on the back of Miguel’s pick up van, for a much-deserved shuttle to the beginning of the trail once again, starting in the same location but going down to the other side of the island. The impenetrable forest is in charge and defines where you shall ride your bike. No straight lines and no chicken lines. The trail zigzags from one side to the other, swirling and twisting your body, making you wish for a cold black beer at Praia Formosa, our next destination. The terrain starts to change and the wet steep single-track in the middle of the forest is replaced by an open trail full of cactus and loose rock that goes down to the Atlantic Ocean. After an entire day riding the smoothest and most loamy trails we have ever ridden, the final downhill section to the beach completes the experience. Arriving to Praia Formosa, translated as the ‘Beautiful Beach’, we sit down on the white sand, shoes and socks off, cold beer in hand with very happy smiles. On our last night in Santa Maria we heads to Pipas, the local restaurant for
beefsteak and delicious coal chicken, with an excellent bottle of Alentejos (red wine) followed by Cookie Cake for dessert. We only got to meet about 20 people in Santa Maria, but we’re sure that the other 5,000 who make up the town are just as nice as the ones we met. In winter there’s no ferryboat, which makes life a bit harder for the locals. In summer, “things can get a bit wild with so many pretty girls on the beach, music festivals and people looking for the ultimate adventure”, says our driver, Miguel. There’re no spare parts, bike shop or a convenient MacDonald’s, there’s just what the land gives you then and that unexpectedly takes back. We head back to São Miguel, feeling that there’s so much to know and to explore in this little rock in the middle of the Atlantic. An entire lifetime wouldn’t be long enough to find out all the secrets of the Azores. The mystery of São Miguel remains and the locals want to keep it as it is; unexplored, green and pure. In the middle of the Atlantic there are nine islands that can easily be defined as heaven on earth, or a small glimpse of paradise. Little beads of sweat and rain slowly cover my face. It’s not raining much today, but it’s enough to get your body cold and make you feel alive. My sunglasses start to get foggy as the steam rises from the inside of my jacket. This place is humid, striking an impressive 80 per cent average all year long. I push my sunglasses to the edge of my nose and control my breathing during the ascent from Monte Escuro to Pico da Vela, located at 870 metres
above sea level, on a trail called ‘The Donkey’. I shouldn’t be looking at my front tyre, worried about my weak physical skills, but it’s hard not too. I finally find an even pace while keeping my head up, following Rui and Paulo. The green is mixed with an inviting blue. “Guys, that’s the Lake of Fire, my favourite of São Miguel”, says Luis, proud of the land where he was born and raised; just like we imagined. There’re no human made buildings in our sight, and it seems that everything looks the same since the last volcanic experience. Yet, there are still small earthquakes every single day and geothermal activity. We didn’t feel any quakes, but they swore that the earth is always shaking in these areas. “Don’t take your camera just yet”, says Luis claiming he should do that path more times per year. You ride up and down into an old volcanic crater in a technical, but fun, all mountain trail, packed with clay and rocks. I have to put my sunglasses on again, because in some sections you go up to 50 kilometres per hour, and I’m already crying with pain... and joy. My heart is racing; one more curve, one more pedal stroke, one more breath. When you reach the top, the green valleys extend to the bottom of the island, where the ocean breathes huge waves. Seagulls fly on top of us breaking the expected silence of the mountains; “It means that the sea is bad today, and fisherman’s are on the docks”, says Luis. The trail takes us down to civilisation. At 870 metres, the track follows a huge ridge with some sharp cliffs on both sides. The path is not as clear
as you would want it to be, but it’s much easier to feel how unexplored that place is. It’s a century old trail that goes down to Lake of Fire at 580 metres high, built for human need by our ancestors. You feel honoured to be able to ride there. Paulo goes in front, jumping from right to left avoiding holes and small roots; while Rui chases him, trusting his line choice but knowing that sometimes things can go wrong. Before the final descent, there’s a huge uphill with the bike on your back. My legs are tired from the beating of the day before, but I put it on top of my camera backpack and start climbing, getting inspired by that virgin territory... and smiling. After 30 kilometres we arrive exhausted to Vila Franca, located at sea level, where we can relax and enjoy a late swim on the pool at Mystic Islands Azores. São Miguel was a true surprise. In the last five years there was significant progress in roads and services; but the best thing about Azores is that it doesn’t matter how things gradually move to the 21st century, they will always preserve their ancient paths, traditions and their exotic nature. That’s the real Azores experience that will remain intact for this and for the next generations of mountain bikers. Antonio Abreu was born to live in the mountains. He’s always searching for the ultimate adventure, surrounded by his friends, camera, notebook and bicycle. Writing, photographing, filming, riding; it’s simply the way he finds happiness. www.youtube.com/extremebiker F www.facebook.com/themadproductions www.instagram.com/madproductions
HOT, DIRTY, HUMBLING A ROAD-TRIP THROUGH MEXICO WORDS AND IMAGES: Rosie Morrison
There we were. Slightly damp, slightly sunburnt, with no map and no GPS, the wind on our cheeks and our heads full of dreams. We were finally on the road. I WAS A week into my ten month overseas journey, and my friend Elle and I had just scored the hippest road-tripping van to ever cross our sight. We proudly named our VW kombi Dirty Chai, running our hands lovingly over the rusty locks, the door that always stuck, the frayed seating, and the grimy windows. After a mixture of Spanglish, universally understood hand gestures and some reassuring emails to the banks back home, we had sealed the deal with a friendly local from the little town of Tepoztlán, an hour-and-a half drive from sprawling Mexico City. On the road with a flash rain storm setting in, one window wiper out of action and an unknown path before us, we soon realised driving in Mexico was going to be exhilarating ride. Road-tripping in this huge country was frightening for a number of reasons; the road signs we couldn’t read, the mountainous tracks that dropped off into dizzying valleys, the dogs, the traffic, driving on the right. Yet these very reasons also make up the beauty of
travel. We were far from home, and we were awed by what surrounded us. We spent the first night in the VW in an oily petrol station equipped with a gun-wielding security man, which, as Elle pointed out cheerfully, would be “like having 24/7 security”. The van would grow to be not only our mode of transport, but also our accommodation, storage facility, and hangout zone. We met up with three Kiwi boys in Acapulco, a busy coastal town. After a few days of surf, numerous bottles of local Corona and one stolen number plate we were ready to part ways with the boys and head off on our own again before returning to pick up other friends. As a twosome we would take turns driving, while the other caught a nap in the backseat or picked the playlist on our tinny little cellphone. The days were hot, carefree and expansive. We ate when we were hungry and sometimes not even then, yet always the eagle-eyed passenger would be on the lookout for roadside coconuts which we learnt could be picked up on the move whilst leaning
out the door. We gathered sweet mangoes and used our teeth to pull off the warm flesh, until we worried about our fruit intake. How much was too much again? The petrol stations soon became our little slice of refuge as we would pull over for gas, a Snickers bar and linger as long as was acceptable in the deliciously cool air conditioning. Outside one of these one day we met some French hitch-hikers and their small dog, a chance meeting which would later see us sitting round a smoky beachside fire, a man crooning his saxophone into the darkness, our hair salty, the stars all around us. But it wasn’t always smooth running and soon became obvious that Dirty Chai had been cheap for a reason. Breakdowns became a daily occurrence, then twice daily and then even running for a few hours at all became unbelievably lucky. Yet always it was the unknown that led us to adventure. We quickly learnt the art of a twoperson crash start and on the return to Acapulco we had the help of our new
Kiwi mates. In the hairiest encounter of the trip, local police came to the rescue. Although enthusiastic, they worried us somewhat when their assault rifles began dragging along the tarmac behind us. With extra guests in tow we realised we would need to start sorting some proper places to sleep, so we investigated some colourful hostels in ocean-hugging towns Puerto Escondido, Barra de La Cruz and other places along the Pacific Coast so small we were unsure if they would even make the map. The hostels were a highlight. A chance to meet other foreigners for the first time on our journey, to connect over the inadequacies of our Spanish, our favourite taco toppings and the strangeness of a different culture. A fellow Kiwi we met summed up the experience in a post on Facebook after returning home from six months travel: “I fell in love more times than a 15 year old.” Each of these characters we met along the way, with their eccentricities, funny accents and sun-bleached clothes would be best friends in another life, people worth keeping around. But with the road forever calling us, inland we
drove, around the twisting spines of the mountains, coming across a town so misty and cold we found ourselves digging deep in our backpacks for the jerseys and socks we had hauled all the way from home. No travel story could be complete without its unexpected faults however, and there, deep in the hills in the cobble-stoned town of Oaxaca, my travel positivity was suddenly put to the test. After a few hours digging about in the markets hunting exotic fruits, leather sandals and famous cheese, we returned to the van to find two of four backpacks missing. Over 11,000 kilometres from home, backpack-less, passport-less and with seven pesos to my name. Things had just got very real, very quickly. Yet as was to be a re-occurring theme for me over the next nine months, kindness was not far away. A man across the street offered us 100 pesos from his back pocket after hearing of our dilemma and waved away our sounds of refusal. And as we stood there amongst an impressive police presence and the night began to gather around us, it was not so much the cruelty, but rather the generosity and
good of the people that brought hot tears to my eyes. Mexico, if anything, teaches you patience. The ability to sit back when it’s not working, say to yourself “breathe” and realise the pace of life around you is different. There is time. Time for talking, time to eat with your fingers, to walk barefoot and explore churches and beaches. Time to swim, to hear music and to laugh in a language that’s not your own. I left dusty, with a heck-load of a lighter bag, a cringing bank account, but stories enough to entertain my friends and to savour upon my return home. Through all the triumphs and disasters, the heat and the humility, it was absolutely an experience worth having. Rosie Morrison is a wandering and wondering traveller, and spending ten months overseas quickly prompted her to plot the next trip. Now back home in New Zealand and with a background in Visual Arts and a keen interest in Horticulture, you’ll most likely find her up to her elbows in craftmaking or muddy and content in the garden. www.colourandbones.wordpress.com www.instagram.com/romosnap
Eleah Ramos is a self-taught graphic designer and illustrator based in Auckland, New Zealand. A bookworm and a painter by nature, immersing herself in brush-lettering and handmade typography seemed like the natural thing to do. t www.twitter.com/eleahramos
Carley Cornelissen is an Australian artist based on the Sunshine Coast, who is inspired by the environment, colour and pattern. She works with acrylics, spray paint and transfer techniques to create 2-D environments for the animals she is passionate about. www.carleyart.com.au www.instagram.com/carley_cornelissen
PERFORMANCE THROUGH PEOPLE FINDING OUT WHAT WE ARE CAPABLE OF THROUGH ADVENTURE WORDS: Jamie Fitzgerald IMAGES: Supplied
don’t know where you’re going, ‘Ifanyyouroad will take you there! ’ – Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland IN 2003, WHEN offered the opportunity to take part in a 5,000 metre ocean rowing race three weeks out from the race start date, of course the adventurer in me said yes. Other than rowing for New Zealand and against Oxford and Cambridge Universities on the Waikato River my only claim to fame was holding a record for eating a can of Watties ‘Big Eat’, in 3.2 seconds. But challenging ourselves in the most extreme way possible seems like the Kiwi thing to do, right? Many Kiwis had challenged themselves before and I was preparing myself for exactly that, a challenge – of epic proportions. Three weeks later I woke up one morning and jumped into a seven metres long by two metres wide rowing boat preparing to set out across the Atlantic Ocean with my teammate, Kevin Biggar, expecting not to touch land again for six weeks. We started out on day one with flat seas, calm skies, no wind – everything was perfect. We set out with a plan of Kevin and me rowing along in a shift pattern of an hour and a half on and an hour off, always having at least one of us rowing every minute and sometimes the both of us. Day two however was a completely different story. A storm hit us, which meant we were now competing against large swells and strong head winds as well as the eighteen other crews that were racing against us. It seemed with each stroke Kevin and I took, we would move forward only to
be pushed back to the same starting point. At this moment we were left with a choice; “Do we throw out the ‘sea anchor’ or ‘keep rowing’?” But with the sea anchor (a big parachute in the water) out, the strong currents were pushing us back to the starting line. We decided to keep rowing. For 42 hours we kept rowing and rowing and rowing only to realise we had made no progress. There I was thinking… what have I signed up for?!? Finally the storm died down and I got the chance to call our team manager. Our manager’s message that day was “whatever you’ve been doing, keep doing it. You’ve gained a 30 mile lead on the other crews”. This message steered us on for the rest of the race. In theory we didn’t row 30 miles, it’s just that the other teams dropped their sea anchors, resulting in a backwards drag. We reached the finish line after 40 days and five hours, winning the race and breaking the world record. The distance between the first and second place crew was just over 30 miles. Some would say that a discussion between Kevin and me during that storm on day two decided the outcome of the race on day forty. The thing that stood in my mind after the race was this, “sometimes when you think you are making the least progress, you are actually making the most”. Our next challenge led us to Antarctica in 2007 where Kevin and I set out to be the first Kiwis to walk to the South Pole unaided. We also wanted to be
the first people ever to drag everything that we required on our journey, from the coast, to the South Pole and back unaided. After two years of meticulous planning and training we were off not only to the coldest continent on Earth, but also the highest, windiest and driest. While pulling each of our 160 kilogram sled behind us it took Kevin and me 52 days to walk over 1,100 kilometres with freezing temperatures, rough ice with torn hamstrings, lost toenails and huge weight loss. On each of these long cold days, the thing that kept us going was a conversation we had in the tent each day. Our talks focused on what had made others succeed in the past and what we could learn from them. We drew from other people’s insights and applied this to tomorrow rather than what wasn’t working for us today. As well as this, we celebrated the milestones we reached each day towards our inspirational purpose. The thing about all of Kevin and my adventures was that we always had a very clear purpose of what we wanted to achieve: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there!” – Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland Our purpose has led Kevin and me to re-creating previous pioneering journeys from all around New Zealand in old school clothing and with old school techniques, celebrating the super hero pioneers that set up New Zealand. One of the things we’ve always really loved is reflecting on what
pioneers have done in the past, so reenacting these adventures through both television shows called ‘First Crossings’ and ‘Intrepid NZ’ was a great way to show recognition to our adventurers from the early days. I was also inspired to develop The Big Walk where I travelled Te Araroa, a 3,000 kilometre trail that stretches the length of New Zealand with hundreds of young Kiwis, trying to create experiential learning for them. This was also created with a very clear purpose (not just for me but for the young Kiwis as well) – for young people to co-create how they can become better connected to their communities through adventures over the backbone of New Zealand. When I look back on all these adventures and experiences I’ve
been a part of, one thing I pulled from each journey was that each of the teams worked tirelessly towards something that is important to THEM. Sure, the team may not always agree with each other’s priorities, decisions or behaviours, but they are aligned to a common cause. The teams showed alignment, not agreement, to a shared purpose. So if believing in and having a shared purpose can lead hundreds of Kiwis across the length of New Zealand, Kevin and me to keep rowing while others were happy to rest, walk to the South Pole in challenging conditions, and go over many edges while re-enacting pioneers adventures, shouldn’t all teams agree what their reason for being is?
Consider this: If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything. Once you understand the patterns of behaviour in your own team, and what you stand for, you might be able to say “Yes” a little less, “No” a little more, and create more time for you to sit back and plan your next adventure! Jamie Fitzgerald is a world-class adventurer, motivational speaker and leadership development consultant. He strives for success in everything he does and is constantly searching for new ways to test his own boundaries. www.inspiringperformance.co.nz F www.facebook.com/InspiringPerformance www.instagram.com/inspiring_performance t www.twitter.com/NZ_Jamie
TAKING ON THE CHALLENGE WORDS: Bill Thomas IMAGES: Supplied
Looking back as I enter my 54th year of life, entering the Longbeach Coastal Challenge back in 2007 was one of the better sporting decisions I have made. From knowing nothing about mountain biking in the beginning I am now, what I would call, hooked; there are three bikes in the garage plus two that have been handed on. Above all, it’s a great way to keep fit, meet new people and see the countryside. THE FIRST YEAR I participated in the Challenge I did no training. I borrowed one of the children’s school bikes which had no suspension, and I had no bike shorts and no water. It was an experience. I had just passed the 15 kilometre mark, only half way around and thought “holy sh*t!” Luckily I know the Mid-Canterbury farm where the Challenge is set like the back of my hand and was able to devise a few short cuts, which turned the 35 kilometre course into 25 kilometres. After finishing I headed straight to the bath and had much difficulty walking for the next few days. All of this made me determined to do much better the following year, and the year after – I’ve competed in every Longbeach Coastal Challenge since. In November 2014, I was up early, fuelling the body with bananas and water, ready for the race. With the forecast looking good, I gathered my gear and loaded my bike on the back of the Hi-Lux Ute and was off, across the Hinds River to the neighbour’s property and the location of the start/ finish line. More than 900 competitors
were preparing to race; a significant rise from about 300 at the first event. Bikes and competitors were scattered everywhere; a small village of tents housing sponsors, food, event organisers and service clubs had popped up too. You could see the sea from the tent village and a few of the rolling gullies that are part of the course. The runners and walkers who had started before I arrived were well into their work, with most coming over the finishing line before the bikers started. There is a real family feeling to this event; wives, husbands, partners and children are all participating. When I pulled up I met some guys I had biked with while training. I namedropped that Anton Cooper, who took gold in the men’s cross country cycling at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, had biked this race several times. He holds the course record and does not get off his bike at any stage of the race. I looked across to the next vehicle and there was Anton Cooper, getting his bike set up and gear on. I shut my mouth very quickly.
We lined up at the start, the serious 35 kilometre riders jostling to the front of the start line, the team riders next, the less extreme 35 kilometre riders following then the 23 kilometre riders followed by the 12 kilometre riders. Bang. The shot gun blasted and we were off. There was no sign of Anton Cooper or my so-called mates. I was on my own, winding around farm tracks, over waterways and along the top of sea cliffs, up and down gullies for the first five kilometres then into the Hinds River bed. So far so good. I was still on the bike and feeling OK. The track wound through the river and along the river bank, riding among the willow trees followed by a short, steepish climb up onto more farm land and down into a shingle gully. It was getting quite hot and the sea breeze was welcome. Riding alongside the sea on the cliff tops felt great, but the downside of this race being on my property is that I know exactly what’s ahead. A very sharp steep climb greeted us, one I’ve never been able to bike up. The riders in front of me all got off and started to
push their bikes up. Maybe I’d caught up to Anton Cooper? I hopped off and pushed my bike quickly up the rise. Gathering up some speed I managed to pass a few other riders. I saw a water station up ahead, the views of the sea gave me a boost and I was relieved that I was still feeling OK. Then it was down a steep bank, gaining plenty of speed, a quick wobble but still in control and then onto the beach and past the half-way mark. The last 15 kilometres began to catch up with me and my legs started to feel heavy. The path flowed down into a small stream where some riders had come off and were pushing their bikes. Luckily, I managed to stay on mine and kept moving forward, around a sharp corner and straight into the water. The rider right in front of me suddenly fell off. I had no choice but to join him – straight over the handlebars. I was down but not out, so I leapt back on the bike with only my pride a little hurt. I had done 19 kilometres and the ride was getting interesting; the climbs were steeper and the descents faster.
Soon I was back onto the beach with the sand and stones under my tyres. I quickly changed down a gear but it was too soft. I stalled, hopped off the bike and pushed it at a run. I don’t know how some of these guys and girls are able to ride along the beach with their legs pumping flat out in the lowest gear possible. Anton Cooper said in his winning speech: “I really like the challenge of the Longbeach race as you get to use every gear.” It is something I haven’t quite mastered yet, in fact, as the pressure comes on I’m known to change up instead of down, with some very poor results. Finally the beach came to an end, but unfortunately I was faced with a slow climb up a very steep slope, then down the other side and onto a dry stream. It was hard going but at least I was still on the bike. But just when it was looking good and you think the hard bits are behind you, the race organisers send you back off the shingle road for some more cross country. Up and down a shingle quarry, over a cattle stop and then past a water station where teenagers will hose you down
with water if you like, or even if you don’t like! The final eight kilometres were fast and flat. It’s amazing how, even if you think you’re not very competitive, there is no way you’re going to let someone pass you on that flat straight to home. And just like that I was finished. The timing chip was taken off my bike and the results posted on the Longbeach Challenge website. I got to meet Anton Cooper, a very down-to-earth guy who won the event again. He holds the race record, which is about one-anda-half hours quicker than me! But I’m working on reducing that gap. The next Longbeach Coastal Challenge will be held on Sunday 29th of November, 2015. Check out www.longbeachcoastalchallenge.com for more info. Bill Thomas farms Longbeach Estate in MidCanterbury, New Zealand. Always a keen sportsman with a competitive nature, Bill still relishes a physical challenge outside his comfort zone. www.longbeachestate.co.nz
INTO THE BLUE WORDS AND IMAGES: Emma Sheppard
For most people, the sight of a shark fin slicing through water towards them would be grounds to panic. I am one of these people. But in May, I joined the thousands of adventurers travelling to South Africa each year to get a closer look at the Great White Shark. I HEADED TO Gansbaai, a two-hour drive from Cape Town, informally named the Great White Shark capital of the world. It is one of only five sites where it’s possible to dive with these terrifying creatures (the others are in Guadalupe, the Neptune Islands, off the coast of South Australia, and a further two spots in South Africa). This country was the first in the world to protect the Great White, passing legislation in 1991. Marine Dynamics, who I dived with, is one of the leading research teams in the area. The company was started in the late 1990s by André Hartman, who was one of the first people to ever free dive with Great Whites. Today, their marine biologists work with South Africa’s Department of Marine and Coastal Management to identify and track the region’s individual sharks and have been instrumental in building a database of thousands of pictures of dorsal fins. Shark cage diving is a year-round industry, due in part to the food supply in Shark Alley – a shallow channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, which is home to
more than 60,000 Cape Fur Seals. In the summer, the shallow waters closer to land prove a bountiful hunting ground, and in the winter there is a feeding frenzy as the new seal pups take their first (and often last) swim. I hoped my dip was not going to end the same way. We were told the sharks are most active in the morning so, after an early start, my boyfriend and I drove the 160 kilometres from Cape Town. Kleinbaai is six kilometres along the coast from Gansbaai and home to the Marine Dynamics’ base. After a coffee, a briefing and a warning about the likelihood of sea-sickness, my fellow divers and I were taken to our seafaring vessel for the day – aptly named Sharkfin. Shark diving in Gansbaai initially seems a low-key affair. You do not need to be a certified diver and it only takes an exhilarating 20 minutes in a motorboat to reach most of the dive sites. With a clatter of the anchor and a splash of the cage as it hit the water, we were raring to go, stumbling across the deck to scramble into our tight (in some cases, very tight)
wet suits. We were a mixed bunch – quite a few young couples on holiday, a group of friends in their 50s from America and an Indian family with teenage children. The volunteers helping Marine Dynamics with their research come from all over the world too – we met two from Canada who had arrived a month before. Once we were all kitted out, the waiting began. The early morning was quiet. The boat bobbed gently from side to side, a few camera shutters clicked to capture the water vista, and the volunteers on board kept mugs of hot chocolate circulating. Inevitably, conversation turned to the ethics of this tourist attraction, which put Gansbaai on the map. The shark diving industry does inspire much debate and often polarises travellers between those who would, and those who would not go on a dive themselves. Chumming the water is a big reason why many do not. As we sat and waited, the crew began to pour a delightful concoction of fish oil, mashed tuna and sardines off the back of the boat, creating a slick that the sharks are attracted
to. Many speculate that it pulls sharks into new territory and normalises their interaction with humans – perhaps even leading them to equate people with food. Supporters argue that it is important to get close enough to sharks to learn more about them and that conservation efforts are hampered by our current lack of knowledge. “It is only through our research that we’ve been able to estimate the total number of sharks in this area at all”, our marine biologist Onno told us. “Before logging the sharks’ dorsal fins, we guessed that there were 2,000 sharks in Gansbaai, but now we know that there are less than half that. The database also helps us identify sharks that we haven’t seen for up to two years. In the rare cases where we’ve been able to track sharks, we’ve seen them travel up the coast to Mozambique and one female shark swam all the way to Western Australia and back.”
I had my own reservations, not least because I was unsure how up close and personal I wanted to get with these hunters. A YouTube video of a shark getting inside one of these cages had done little to allay my fears. But the chumming didn’t seem to be working and scanning the expanse of water for any movement was proving fruitless. Those with weaker stomachs had already crawled to the front of the boat to keep their eyes on the horizon, but it might have just been to get away from the smell of the chum. After an hour or so, the inevitable, “do you sometimes not see any sharks?” questions were asked. We need not have worried. “To the right!” one of the volunteers called. And we spotted the tell-tale fin circling the boat. The first eight people lined up to get into the cage and tentatively climbed into the water, nervously chatting. “Quick, quick!” Onno called. “Get
down!” Once the chum has attracted the shark, it is up to the bait man and the decoy to keep the animal amused. The bait is made up of fish heads, tied to the end of a line, which is thrown into the water and pulled up just in time so that the shark breaches the surface. The decoy, in the shape of a seal, is to the other end of the boat and encourages the shark to swim in front of the cage. The crew on the boat keep watch and call to direct those in the water where the shark is coming from. The first shark that circled the boat before launching himself at the bait was a male, around one-and-a-halfmetres long. “He’s young”, Onno told us. “He’s very active.” Those in the cage thought so too; there were quite a few screams coming from the water. Before long, it was my turn. The smaller male shark had since been chased away by a three-metre long female with bite marks just behind her
dorsal fin. “We think that’s how they mate”, Onno explained as he handed me a facemask. “No one has ever seen it but we think the male latches on by biting the female.” I winced and climbed into the cage, gasping slightly as I hit the cold water. Apparently we were lucky as it was 17°C, but it didn’t feel like it. There was a clang as the top of the cage closed and we looked nervously at each other, bobbing about in the water. “Don’t jump too hard on the bottom of the cage”, one of the volunteers warned. “It’s loose.” “Whaaa…?” I started to panic, before noticing my boyfriend’s smirk and realising it was the crewman’s idea of a joke. Inside the cage, there was a ladder-like structure, with a bar at the bottom to hook your feet under to keep you submerged, plus a bar for your hands. It was unnerving to realise that if you grabbed onto the cage itself (rather
than the bar), there would be nothing between the shark and your fingers. I didn’t have long to worry about such eventualities before the next call – “get down!” – and, taking a deep breath, I pulled myself down to the bottom of the cage. Underneath the water, the female shark moved slowly past, eyeing us with disinterest. She was close enough to touch, but we’d already been warned that this is ill advised. She hit the seal decoy with her nose and swam away again. We moved back to the surface, bubbling with delight at the close encounter. The next came at us soon after, out of the deep-water gloom and lunged for the bait on the surface. Those who had come up early for a breath got a good look at his teeth. The third and fourth sharks followed in quick succession, until it was second nature to submerge every 20 seconds to see the next one swim by.
Our 20 minutes in the cage was up far too quickly. But we got some good pictures on the deck after wriggling out of the wet suits and back into our warm clothes. In all we saw 12 sharks, which Onno told us made for a particularly lucky day. And we felt very lucky. I doubt I’ll be swimming with sharks without a cage but I wasn’t frightened anymore. The overwhelming feeling that stayed with me was awe and an appreciation for these often misunderstood but undoubtedly magnificent creatures. Emma Sheppard is a writer living in London and has just returned from cycling from London to Paris. She is currently planning her next trip to visit Belgium and its breweries. www.open-parachutes.blogspot.co.uk t www.twitter.com/EmmalouSheppard
KOOTENAY CANOE TRIP WORDS: Emanuel Smedbøl IMAGES: Emanuel Smedbøl and Megan McLellan
Growing up in a remote mountain valley in British Colombia’s West Kootenays, life always seemed to revolve around our quiet lake. We would spend large swathes of hot lazy summers swimming and camping along its shores, often for a week or more at a time. It was our paradise, our playground, our home away from home. But for all of our many visits the far western shore remained largely a mystery – enclosed within Valhalla Provincial Park and without almost any road access to speak of, it tantalised us, just out of reach. IT WASN’T UNTIL five years ago that I finally picked up a paddle and canoed the length of the lake with my mum. It was a wonderful experience closing that circle, being on my favourite lake day in and day out, swimming every 18 minutes, slowly making our way from beach to beach to beach, exploring old prospector cabins and trails into the mountains, drinking from the cold clear creeks, setting up camp in a different place every night, sleeping under the stars, and watching the quick summer storms roll in. Dang. I could spend an entire life out there.
We’ve done it every year since, and I hope to do it for as long as I’m able. Some years my girlfriend and my sister join, other years it’s just my mum and me. It’s one of the trips I most look forward to each year, and one of those things you just don’t really get tired of. Our late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said it thus: “What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois;
paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.” Our trip is maybe half that distance, but we take it slowly and really savour it, and I feel the tug to try ever longer and longer trips. There is something special about travelling by canoe day after day. It sparks something in my Canadian roots, rings true with my heritage and my nation’s history. But whether it’s just that or something deeper still I cannot say. All I know is that it quiets me, fills me with a silent brimming warm-bodied satisfaction. It feels
just you and the lake and your paddle, ‘It’s arms and shoulders tight as you push mile after silent mile behind you.’
important, like I’m doing something good, something meaningful, something that I will forever treasure. Life is simplified, boiled down to a few feet of space thrown into a wide open landscape of almost illimitable possibility, in which any direction could be home for a night. It is a great and rewarding feeling to be out in the wilds, surrounded by beauty, your goods trimmed down to a bare self-sufficient minimum. Although we bring some luxuries too... my mum usually insists on packing along a fly swatter. Quiet days pile on quiet days. It’s just you and the lake and your paddle, arms and shoulders tight as you push mile after silent mile behind you.
The best days are the hot hazy blazing days. It regularly gets to be +36˚C on the lake, but the water is always cool and clear and perfectly refreshing. Those perfect days are all the more perfect still if a storm rushes in on the still evening air, bringing a banging clanging thunder and lightning show, nothing between you and the deep howling summer rains and exploding sky but a thin layer of gossamer tent fabric. The tent walls shake and you poke your head out to a dark flickering world, bright blue and purple flashes lighting up the valley and alighting on the hills across the lake. But the storms pass, as storms always do. You awake to a world washed clean, fresh and cool and alive with morning.
You slide out of your sleeping bag, put some coffee on to boil, and slip into the water for the first of the day’s many swims. It’s going to be another hot one. Those are the best days. Those are the days you carry with you through the long dark fall and winter. Emanuel Smedbøl is a graphic designer, photographer and lover of lakes in Vancouver, British Colombia. He believes in traveling slowly, in savouring the places we pass though, in respecting wild spaces, and in sharing the wonder of everyday moments. www.fieldandforest.co F www.facebook.com/fieldandforest.co www.instagram.com/fieldandforest t www.twitter.com/fieldforestco
ALASKAN ADVENTURE WORDS AND IMAGES: Jane Gilchrist
How could I say no to a privately-guided rafting trip through Canada organised by a bunch of adventure loving Kiwis? I WAS WORKING in southern France, cooking in a rural château when the chance came up to go via Canada and Alaska on the way home, to raft the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers in British Columbia. Adventure companies take guided trips through this area every season but our group had organised two private guides, which meant we had our own group of friends on the river and we didn’t see another single boat or tourist. It is a stunning corner of the globe and thanks to the incredible wildness, the rivers have been short listed as one of the best white water rafting trips in the world. Our team met in Whitehorse, Canada and started our river trip at Haines Junction, spotting our first Grizzly Bear on the way. The nine of us, along with our two guides were to spend the next 14 days rafting, sleeping, cooking and washing on the rivers. Our fantastic guides had organised our gear and supplies so we just had to stuff our minimalistic merino clothes and sleeping bags into our dry bags and suit up with waterproof leggings and lifejackets before heading off. We started on the Tatshenshini River which is narrow and fast flowing with grade three to five rapids. We rafted most of the white water in the first day, before the river widened and flowed through beautiful valleys. From then on the pace was relaxed, allowing time to spot Bald Eagles and a few Grizzly
Bears meandering beside the river, although none came close to our camp. Afternoons saw us unpack our gear and set up camp. Then we’d explore, relax, wash our clothes in the river and spin yarns. Although, as most of our group were multi-sport and adventure junkies, the afternoon saw us donning day packs and hiking to the nearest high spot to take in the mountainous view surrounding us. Nights saw us fireside under the beautiful open skies with a few drinks and a guitar that made it dry the whole way. The two rivers wind their way through the largest non-polar ice field in the world and once we joined the Alsek River, we were in glacier country. We camped on the edge of the Walker Glacier and walked across it, exploring the huge ice holes. The river then flows into Alsek Lake, where multiple glaciers are cut off by the river and form an enormous lake, complete with hundreds of icebergs. Tradition dictated that we do a nude swim around the icebergs, so we had a very quick and very chilly dip in the lake! It was a stunning night camped on the edge of the lake with the sunset tinting the edge of the ice pink. We were lucky to have fantastic weather, with only one day of rain on the river. We rinsed our clothes in the river and dried them on the rafts and around the fire. What a great feeling it was having a bucket shower on the
edge of the river, beside the glacier, and putting on freshly rinsed and dried socks and jocks – amazing how a simple wash could feel so good! Our trip ended at Dry Bay on the west coast of Alaska where we camped and waited for a charter plane from Yakutat. We had terrible weather on arrival at Dry Bay so the three girls in the group were given the chance to jump on the first flight out. We made it back to Haines weaving our way through misty valleys and craggy mountain tops. The rest of the crew weren’t so lucky as the plane wasn’t able to get back that day. They ended the journey with an overnight stay at Dry Bay on the last of the rations, sharing fish and whisky with a local fisher-woman – a fitting end to our Yukon adventure and a night apparently worth missing connecting London flights for. What a great opportunity to see such spectacular wilderness from the rivers – making our way quietly and unobtrusively through stunning mountains and glacial ice fields and ending up on the Gulf of Alaska. I feel so very privileged to have had the chance to explore and enjoy such an adventure. Jane Gilchrist is an event planner and mother to Phoebe and Tom. With a love of the outdoors she looks forward to teaching her children to say ‘yes’ to adventure. www.redplum.co.nz
A USEFUL ADVENTURE WORDS: Vanessa Wells IMAGES: Vanessa Wells and supplied
IT’S RAINING. IT’S been raining for two days, and right now, I’m well outside my comfort zone, with my heart and lungs protesting and my pack seeming to get heavier with every step. Our team is working against the clock to make the distance before the cut-off. I’m tired and I’m nervous. It is an adventure and it is competitive, but it’s not a race. I’m at the Canterbury Regional Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) SAREX for 2015. It’s a search and rescue training exercise run by the Canterbury Police Search and Rescue unit as a 24 hour rogaine competition, with more than 70 people participating. Our team of four is heading towards one of our last checkpoint stations, first aid – arriving just on our eight am cut-off. Yesterday, as we sorted our teams together, I was handed the role of primary first aider, something I have never done before. At the briefing point we are told the scenario – a climber has fallen and injured himself with his ice axe. “Proceed to the GPS co-ordinates provided, administer first aid and prep the climber for evacuation.” In previous exercises I have taken notes, worked the radio, provided assistance and helped with stretcher carrying, but I have never been a primary first aider before. And an eviscerated bowel scenario is certainly a challenge. As we approach, adrenalin flowing, we find that the scenario has been creatively set up. The climber is on a slope in the
bush, ice axe at his side, with a nasty looking set of intestines on the outside when they should be on the inside. Sausage skins filled with pasta and red food colouring, paint a rather realistic picture. The lack of fake blood is surprising, but apparently abdominal injuries can bleed less than a good scalp wound. We have a gash on his head to treat and a broken wrist to splint, while also dealing with the major gut injury. We have 45 minutes from arrival to get the patient evacuated by stretcher to what would have been a helicopter, had it been a real situation. The pressure is on but everyone calms, training kicks into gear and the team is fantastic. Sarah is back up first aider, taking vital signs and measuring observations. Brent is working the radio and managing communications with base and Emlyn, as team leader, is overseeing the evacuation plan and managing the stretcher. The way we work together is just as important as the combined medical knowledge of the team and we score well on the marking sheet. The marking officer and overseeing doctor are happy – they reckon our patient would have lived to tell his story over a beer at the pub. Debriefing after the official part, the controlling police officer tells me that this scenario is taken straight from actual rescue operations on Mt Rolleston, and he has twice had
todeal with climbers with these sorts of abdominal injuries. I’ve learned a lot and quite frankly, it puts me off climbing. And my lunch. Afterwards we receive a full written report of how we performed, both from a procedural point of view, and from a team perspective. The experience is invaluable and for me this is the best way to learn – in the field, followed up with a constructive review. As volunteers for LandSAR, we are training to help out when other peoples’ adventures turn pear-shaped. We are there as back up to the New Zealand Police Search and Rescue teams and to each other on a regional scale. I’m relatively new to LandSAR. I’ve been training for two years and have been certified operational for one. Some of our group members have been doing search and rescue for more than 40 years and for others, the SAREX is their first outing. I belong to the Christchurch Group and we work very closely with the Police and its search and rescue unit. The rogaine covers many of the key competencies within SAR – navigation, first aid, river crossing, search techniques, observation and track and clue work. Some stations are compulsory and others are set out as a challenge to cover the distance and the terrain in the required 24 hours. Each station is judged and scored and
at the end of the weekend, all honour and glory go to the winning team. But every team is rewarded with adventure and a great couple of days training in the bush. At the beginning of the weekend, we divided up gear and sorted out our roles within our allotted team. We must be totally self sufficient for the 24 hours and carry all required rescue, communications and first aid equipment. In our team, two of us had worked together before and two were new to LandSAR, but combined we had a lot of practical experience in our arsenal, from multisport to tramping, as well as police and army training. Each team was given a different start position, to spread the field out, and we headed off to our first navigational checkpoint, with the aim of getting to the first aid station as soon as possible. Ticking off first aid early would be an
advantage as it’s usually a high-pressure situation and is much better done fresh. But plans changed quickly when we discovered the queue for first aid would mean that we would waste valuable hours at the western end of the valley. As it was a rogaine, we could work in any order but the distances and terrain meant it would be difficult to cover everything. We were determined to get to every station and make as many of the navigational checkpoints as we could. So we ticked off the river crossing station in the Bealey River and headed for the track and clue station, collecting as many navigation (nav) points as possible on the way east. The hike up Rough Creek to reach a nav checkpoint was a highlight for me; stunning country and awe-inspiring views up misty valleys reminded me why I love being out here. The hike up Avalanche Peak was less of a highlight
and I would have happily sat down for a little tea break if it weren’t for my team prodding me on. We reached the bushline, found the checkpoint just on dark and made our descent under torchlight back to Arthur’s Pass village. We had spotted the sheltered verandah of a hut in the village and Emlyn pegged it as a good place to spend our compulsory rest hours from midnight. It was a real bonus to not have to deal with wet tents and the verandah was surprisingly warm with the four of us tucked in, out of the wind, rain, and thunder and lightning. We were selfsufficient, but there was nothing in the rules that said we couldn’t turn things to our own advantage. The next morning, after about three hours of sleep, we were up and going again (as soon as we could within
the rules of the rogaine), and back travelling in the dark to the west end of the Pass towards the dreaded first aid station. All travel had to be off the main road, and we seemed to spend a fair amount of time in riverbeds. After completing the first aid station I was feeling much relieved and reenergised and we headed back east towards the finish line with just three nav points to collect. The end of the 24 hours was looming as we struggled to find the final nav checkpoint. Eventually the call had to be made – drop the hunt and head back to base to make the cut-off. It is such a hard thing to do in a rogaine, and we will always wonder if an extra couple of minutes would have let us find it, although I doubt we would. It was difficult bushbashing in rugged country and we probably needed another half an hour! We reached base with a few minutes to
spare and then had a difficult decision – get out of wet gear, or go to the barbeque lunch put on for us by the police teams. In the end we did both at the same time; nothing like eating a sausage wrapped in bread while struggling to get soggy long johns off ! How do you measure success from an exercise like this? “It’s only training if it’s raining”, was our catchphrase thanks to Brent and we had an awesome amount of training in a short space of time. We were also delighted to have placed been fifth in the competition, being beaten by two of the police teams, the Methven team and another team from our own Christchurch group who took out the first prize honours. Bring on next year! As we play in the outdoors with better technology (Personal Locator Beacons, Spot trackers, and better cell phone coverage), many say that the focus of
LandSAR is shifting more to rescue and less to search, but the two still go hand in hand, and we still train for both. There are specialist teams called in for alpine or cliff operations, whitewater or cave operations, but the vast majority of LandSAR call outs require many trained volunteers, often to cover large areas. So on your next adventure, make sure you take your PLB, tell someone where you are headed and when you expect to be back. Hopefully things will go to plan and you will never need LandSAR, but if you do, we will be there. Vanessa Wells is a professional presenter and actor, who finds any excuse to have an adventure, and if it’s useful at the same time, then all the better! www.vanessawells.co.nz www.instagram.com/vanessawells_nz
NORTH AFRICAN CHICKEN RECIPE: Sam Mannering IMAGE: Daniela Aebli
I poached this (get it) from a tiny eaterie in Fez. Unlike Marrakech, where there is an insanely wonderful and eclectic culture of street food, in Fez truly authentic Moroccan cuisine is hard to come by unless you find yourself being invited home for dinner by a local. This place (it didn’t even have a name to speak of ) was an outstanding exception. 3 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4 cloves garlic
2. In a large oven-friendly pan, heat the oil over moderate heat, add the garlic, saffron, cinnamon, ginger, chillies, cumin, lemon, shallots, carrot and most of the coriander, saving some for garnish at the end. Cook gently until the shallots are soft.
½ tsp saffron, toasted and ground 1 stick of cinnamon 3 tbsp finely chopped ginger 2 tbsp cumin seeds 2 tbsp preserved lemon, finely chopped 2 shallots, thinly sliced 1 chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
3. Add the chicken and cook on both sides until golden brown, adding more oil if necessary. 4. Add the chickpeas, stock and sugar, bring to the boil and then take off the heat. Transfer to the oven and let it cook away for about 45 minutes. 5. Season to taste and serve simply with couscous.
1 carrot, diced ½ cup coriander, roughly chopped 8 chicken thighs, skinned and boned 600g tinned chickpeas, drained 1 litre chicken stock 1 tsp sugar Salt and pepper
Sam Mannering is the author of the bestselling book ‘A Year’s Worth: Recipes from Dunsandel Store’, and has just released his second cookbook ‘Food Worth Making.’ He cooks, writes about it, and sometimes acts a bit too. He is a food columnist in New Zealand’s Sunday Star Times, and a contributor to Cuisine Magazine. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand. www.sammannering.com F www.facebook.com/chefsammannering www.instagram.com/sam.mannering
BEHIND THE LENS MARCEAUPHOTOGRAPHY WORDS AND IMAGES: Lyndon Marceau
When I entered the world of adventure sport and trail running photography I never thought it would have me precariously perched on a mountain, huddled in the back of a horse float, trying to block out the freezing cold and horrific howling wind at three am in the morning. But this and many other experiences whilst shooting outdoors are what I revel in and what makes adventure photography and the trail running niche I have carved for myself so rewarding. I STARTED SHOOTING ultra trail running in 2009 when I was asked to shoot The North Face 100 kilometre race in the Blue Mountains alongside Mark Watson, one of Australia’s best adventure photographers around. Shooting alongside him was a privilege and a massive learning experience, which would slingshot my career to where it is today. I now shoot across Australia and internationally, at some of the biggest ultra trail running events in the southern hemisphere. I also work with some of the biggest brands in the market, personal trainers and fitness lifestyle brand advocates, and anyone who has ever wanted, or been inspired, to get some shots of themselves doing what they love most – running. I’ve always been an outdoorsy person
ready for adventure. From day walks, trail runs of the shorter variety than I’m used to shooting, camping weekends away, snow trips, mountain biking and a history of many years of climbing and canyoning, my career now seems a perfect fit to the lifestyle I have always lived. But don’t get me wrong. You probably think my job is all fun and games as I swan around the trails creating amazing images of beautiful people in stellar locations. Well this is partly true; the last part anyway and sometimes the former too. But if you care to join me on the trails on a shoot, I’d welcome you anytime. I forewarn you though; you might just get recruited to carry my laden camera bag and gear like a partmule part-human, or hold a reflector, or
go for a practice run through my frame to check lighting. It’s all part and parcel of the job and I would not swap it for anything. I often spend many hours, sometimes whole days and nights by myself, wandering around trails in dense bush, mountain tops or through vast landscapes, scoping and scouting out the best angles, nice lines, great vistas and backdrops where I know I can nail shots of runners or athletes in my scene. Sometimes, however, time is not a luxury I can afford and thinking on the run becomes second nature. The aforementioned involves patience. Lots of patience. Have you ever sat in one spot for hours on end waiting for runners to come through, poised and ready with your finger on the trigger?
Now add in some inclement weather. Think lashing, horizontal, stinging rain, coupled with a cyclonic variety of wind. Now imagine sitting, waiting, wishing, hoping, praying for your athletes to come at you and that you’re in the right spot. Then click. Runner. Click, click, click. Runner, runner, runner. Now keep repeating this until all the runners are through. Did I mention the walking? Oh the walking. It can vary from gentle, peaceful strolls to long arduous kilometres laden with camera gear. Sometimes, actually more often that not, the trails are not accessible by 4WD let alone car, so I end up driving to trail heads and walking, or sometimes mountain biking, in the reverse way along a course or walking the right way in the direction of the race along a trail to find a location to position myself until the runners come through. One time, working in New Zealand, I got to a locked gate that was supposed to be open to give me access. Adrenalin
mixed with a hint of frustration kicked in and with no time to spare, l left the support 4WD, threw my camera bag on my back with my supplies of food, water and warm clothes for the morning and ran, walked and turned myself inside out to beat the lead runners to the summit of a mountain pass. Welcome to my life as an ultra trail running and adventure photographer – it’s my perfect job. I’d like to share with you one of my most memorable, yet taxing, events I shot: New Zealand’s Tarawera Ultramarathon in 2014. In 2013 the race was shortened and re-routed with an out and back component due to the threat of fire in the Tarawera Forest region. In 2014 the polar opposite happened. The course was shortened and re-routed again due to Cyclone Lusi. This unfortunate event saw race director Paul Charteris make the heart-breaking call to change the course yet again. At the start we were treated to some light drizzle. This was bearable. I
was able to shoot without having to don too much wet weather gear or rain hoods to protect my camera and flashes. Two hours into the race, the heavens were slowly starting to open up and Cyclone Lusi was showing her face with all weather forecasts ringing true. By lunchtime it was full wet weather gear; rain pants, rain hoods and rain covers on my bag. Shooting in these conditions, you really don’t have much time to set up and wait; having to constantly be on the move as keeping up with the elite athletes isn’t easy. By this point in the race there isn’t any way to escape the rain and it becomes easier to just succumb to being drenched, get the job done and worry about things later. With hours of heavy rain and condensation building, I rely heavily on the weather-proofing seals of my camera gear. I use Nikon Professional DSLRs and top-end Nikon lenses, so I don’t worry too much about the rain or let the conditions affect the shots I want to achieve. I rely on my gear whole heartedly to continue to perform
love being thrown into these situations ‘Iand it’s what, as a photographer, you can only dream of.’
as it always has done and let the Nikon service team take care of the rest. The next best thing to combat the rain is to take it back to basics with a simple microfibre cloth and microfibre towel. I always carry these in my bag along with snaplock bags, cable ties and gaffer tape – there is nothing you can’t do or can’t fix with that MacGuyver combination. As Cyclone Lusi bore down, my job became a repetitive, trance-like rhythm of shoot, shoot, shoot, wipe lens element with microfibre cloth, wipe lens and camera body with microfibre towel. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Repeat. But it was worth it – I was able to capture some of the most emotive, raw, beautiful and impactful images I have ever had the challenge of shooting; sodden, drenched, drained and fatigued runners going through the motions, riding the rollercoaster of emotions, just getting the job done reaching the finish line in any way they can. On reflection the Tarawera Ultra Marathon 2014, combined with Cyclone Lusi, was fun and what I live for. I love being thrown into these situations and it’s what, as a photographer, you can only dream of. It continually excites and challenges me
to shoot in these conditions as the raw beauty, pain, suffering and true emotion of the runners is apparent on their faces and in their body language; this is what makes for great photographs coupled with the location and environment we are immersed in. There have been so many incredible moments in this job, like the time I was trapped, well I felt trapped, during the Northburn 100 Miler on New Zealand’s Cromwell station in the back of a horse float at an aid station, with no way off the mountains in below freezing conditions. Or when I captured one of my most memorable shots with Beau Miles (the first person to have successfully run the length of the Australian Alpine Walking Trail) atop Mt Buller in Australia at sunset, for a campaign promoting a new trail running network. The sunset was the most magical, perfect orange, pink and purple, while the Victorian Alps were stacked on the horizon for as far as the eye could see. Or at Australia’s Mount Baw Baw trail running festival, where the start of the ultramarathon saw a moody, misty morning enveloping a good majority of the Alpine Way walking track, where I waited in quiet
reflection for the runners to come screaming out of the mist and past me in a flash. These are the moments I live for. But it’s not always about the adverse or perfect weather conditions I encounter, or the pristine wild and vast environments that make me fall in love with my job over and over again. It’s the people. Trail running is about community. We are one out there for a common goal – to participate in an activity in which we all enjoy pushing our minds and bodies beyond the limits to places where we didn’t think it was possible to take them. It is a privilege and an honour for me, one which I take great pride in, to be able to capture, re-create and share these moments with everyone to enjoy. Lyndon Marceau is based in Sydney, Australia. He is an Adventure Sports Photographer specialising in Trail Running Photography. His connection with the outdoors allows him to capture images with an edge, moment or that angle which can momentarily distract and engage with his audience. www.marceauphotography.com F www.facebook.com/marceauphotography www.instagram.com/marceauphotography t www.twitter.com/marceauphotog
THE SKY OF THE TIGER WORDS AND IMAGES: Carla Munro
Tucked tightly into a leather flying helmet, firmly held down by H.G. Wells inspired aviator goggles, my hair should have been standing decidedly on end at this moment. Thick leather straps pinioned me to the seat and my shivering limbs had nothing to do with the cool autumn breeze. “How are you feeling? You OK?” His face nipped in and out of my field of vision as he busied himself with buckles, buttons, and the huge prop up front. “ Yeah, I’m good.” My reply sounded less ‘good’, more ‘unhinged’. He laughed. “ You’ll love it!”
HE WAS RIGHT, of course. I loved it. Every heart-pounding, nervetingling, breath-robbing moment of my first flying lesson was out of this world miraculous. Let me go back to the beginning, set the scene for you. I am an adrenaline junkie by design. I was not born for adventure – I crave it, despite intense fears and anxiety. If someone was cooking up an antic Dangermouse would raise his eyebrow at, I was in, even though on the inside I would be simultaneously having a mental breakdown and a hiatal hernia. For some unknown and inexplicable reason I say YES to adventure, every time, without fail, even though my brain is exasperatedly throwing in the towel and resigning again. Fear of heights? Easy. Get a job as a jump master for AJ Hackett in adventure-mad New Zealand. Fear of flying? Ha! Have I got the cure for you! Learn to fly in a 1940s WW2 vintage biplane. Now we’re talking! When I told Peter Hendricks from
Learn to Fly in Wanaka, New Zealand, I wanted to learn to fly, he immediately suggested learning in the Tiger Moth. Why? Because everyone who knows me knows I love to push the envelope. Ever wonder why all the best superheroes wear a mask? It’s not to hide their identity so much, although it helps. It’s to hide their fear. Fear, neatly, professionally and irrevocably hidden from view, I said a resounding, “YES!” It was not my first time in a plane. It was not even my first time in a Tiger Moth. I love old planes, especially the Tigers. I’ve had a bit of a love affair with them since first seeing The English Patient on the big screen. The scene of the Count and Katherine Clifton flying over the Tunisian desert haunted me passionately for years. When I moved to Wanaka and discovered there was a company offering Tiger Moth sightseeing flights, I was, well, let’s just say pretty excited. (Gibberishly excited, literally bouncing-up-and-down-like-a-five-
year-old-in-a-lolly-shop-with-a-fistfulof-cash excited.) So, of course, I signed myself up for a flight. A thirty minute scenic flight over the stunning lake, quaintly quirky lakefront township, epic mountains, and up the mighty Clutha River of the Lake Wanaka region had me laughing out loud, crying into my silk scarf, and convinced this was the best adventure yet of my many. Once we touched down, parked up, disembarked, and I had hugged ALJ, as well as you can hug a plane, I told Peter Hendricks (Pete) that I was going to learn to fly. To my everlasting gratitude and gut-wrenching panic, this is how it all began. Autumn is one of the best seasons for many things in the Lake Wanaka region and flying is undoubtedly one of them. Calm, clear days, perfect temperatures, not too hot and not too cold, vivid sunrises and sunsets, and views that include golden swathes of lake and riverside trees, make autumn a photographer’s dream. Calm, clear days with little to no wind also makes
autumn an aviators dream. This made me happy. My first flight was scheduled for a very calm, very clear, very perfect day – my dream conditions! I approached ALJ with the kind of respectful admiration one would approach Jean Batten. “We’re going to fly together, you and I”, I told her as I trailed my fingers across her fabric wing. I should mention here that ALJ is her call sign – the last three of the painted numbers on her fuselage. She’s a rare beauty, is ALJ, with a mind of her own, and the resilience of a war-widow. She’s a moxie-licious darling of her era and I fell in love with her in the midst of a spiral nose dive toward the cerulean waters of Lake Wanaka. Aircraft, being in my mind a little like horses, should be charmed before you fly them. They have unique personalities. And ALJ has personality plus. So we had our wee girls chat before I headed to the dressing room to gear up. I agreed to look the part and go easy on her, and she promised me a smooth flight with no nonsense. We were going to get along just fine. You don’t learn to fly a Tiger Moth in jeans. Oh, dear me, no. You wear a vintage aviator jumpsuit, a thick blanket of sheepskin and leather bomber jacket and an authentic leather helmet with accompanying goggles. And if you’ve got red lippy handy, by all means rock it baby. Once I was suitably attired Pete led me to the cockpit. Of course, being the greenhorn I am, I went for the front cockpit as in my scenic flight. “No, Carla, you’ll be flying this time. It’s the back seat for you.” Talk about back seat driving! Or flying, whatever, you get the picture. Tiger Moths have two small cockpits. They have been used as training craft since their beginnings in the 1930s. Because of their need for a steady, firm hand Tiger Moths were the preferred training planes by instructors who wanted to weed out inept students. Both cockpits have full controls so
either can fly the plane, but in training cases the instructor sits in the front, the student in the back. For scenic flights the passenger sits in front, while the pilot flies from the rear cockpit. So this was really it. Here I was, strapped up in the back seat, the chair of command, the pilot’s place. I was about to fly. Is it weird to have one of the scariest, and one of the most exciting things about my first flight, being talking to Pete on the radio? Flick the lever down – speak – flick back to neutral, crackle in the headset as Pete instructed me to gently but firmly take hold of the stick. You see, you can’t see your instructor in a Tiger. You can only hear him. And you can only hear him through the static muffle of an aviation headset, which to my overactive imagination felt like being instructed by ghosts –the ghosts of the pilots who flew ALJ in the Great War. Her history seeped into my bones as Pete instructed me to rest both feet lightly on the rudder bars, ready to turn the craft left or right as required as we taxied onto the runway. Oh, another thing about Tiger Moths – no brakes. So making our way to the runway consisted of several, wellexecuted I thought, wide turns to keep speeds down. Once manoeuvred into position on the runway Pete made the radio call and we were clear for take-off. It all sounds so civilised. Yes, that’s lovely, AlphaLemur-Juliette at a heading of blah blah blah, tracking west, a bunch of landmarks even I don’t know the name of, when really what was happening in the pilot seat was tantamount to jelly melting in the sun. A quivering, sweating mess. Excited, you betcha! Terrified, oh all things holy yes! No stranger to adrenaline, and definitely with a love of flying, particularly a love of flying in these graceful angels of the sky, I still believe this was one of the most brilliantly extreme things I’ve ever done. It’s all good and well to jump off bridges tied to a rubber band – my trust in karabiners and bungy cords are
categorically logical. Skydiving, same thing – it’s all about the experience of your instructor and the meticulous condition of the equipment. Skiing, dog-sledding, mountain biking, everything else I’ve done (long list too lengthy to name) with a measure of risk, nothing has come close to taking the throttle and stick of a vintage aircraft and pushing her to launch into the sky. Even with Pete, a veteran pilot with tens of thousands of hours under his wings, manning his controls in the front cockpit, knowing full well he was guiding, nudging, correcting, and pretty much flying the plane over me, my heart was fit to leap overboard. Throttle forward, stick full forward to bring the tail dragger wheel at the back up, then stick eased back, the little rubber wheels let go of the tarmac and we were airborne. Nothing can prepare you for that feeling. Euphoric, and more than a little emotional, I was channelling Amelia Earhart as Pete’s voice floated through the headset. “How’re you doing back there?” “Just dandy!” We climbed away from land, the rush of wind teasing the fabric and wooden wings making her give little leaps and jumps. And I mean little, barely a bump, but I felt every single nuance of wind, air, and shift of the controls a hundredfold. Every sense on high alert, I tasted the sky as ALJ climbed. Flying in a Tiger Moth, an open cockpit biplane, is like riding a motorbike. The difference between their closed-cockpit counterparts is huge. Like cars, closed cockpit planes seal you off from the elements, they give an impression of security and detachment, and limit your experience of what’s around you. On a motorbike, or indeed in a Tiger Moth, you are part of the air. You can reach out and touch it, feel it beating through your outspread fingers as if through feathers on a wing. Your breath is full of pure sky, you can’t imagine! It’s like breathing New. Like breathing the first breath of a newborn baby.
her right and a Tiger will fly ‘Treat you to heaven and back.’ And the sound of the wind dashing by, of the engine purring like a giant cat, together a symphony of freedom, a gorgeous roar of joy. And what you can see? Everything! Pete instructed me to head towards Mount Iron, a hulking glacier-formed landmark; keep the nose up – but not too much, wings level, and keep a light touch on the stick and rudders as Tigers need a constant hand to fly. Unlike other aircraft, a Tiger Moth won’t just fly herself – she needs you as much as you need her. They like a firm hand, but a gentle hand. No need to grip the stick like a lollipop your brothers trying to steal. Treat her right and a Tiger will fly you to heaven and back. We flew past Mount Iron, over the lakefront town of Wanaka, all quaint and quiet from up here, and I imagined my friends and family somewhere down there carrying on ordering coffees, doing lessons at school, typing up some document at work, and I whispered my gratitude to Pete at Classic Flights for this amazing experience. “Okay, Carla, we’re going to do some real flying now”, Pete’s voice, in answer to my silent thanks, crackled through my headset. Real flying? I thought I was! Real flying turned out to be turns. And waggling the wings. Oh, and an exciting wee test of letting go of all controls to see what would happen. Yes, Tigers need to be flown. Absolutely. Otherwise they fall, gracefully true, but still fall out of the sky. Using the ailerons on the lower wings and the rudder bars at my feet, and playing with the stick that controls left and right roll, Pete taught me some simple, yet vital, flying manoeuvres. Tiger Moths are known for being easy
to fly, but hard to fly well. Pete and his pilots at Classic Flights fly these darlings of the sky like Fred Astaire dancing Ginger Rogers across the stage. And yet it was hard not to feel like an expert under Pete’s guidance. He explained how to manage ailerons, and rudder to combat adverse yaw. Yes, I just used those words! Did I know what they meant at the time? No! But did that matter? Not really! I was flying! Genuinely flying. And I loved every minute. We all know the saying, what goes up must come down, and it came time to head back. We did a sweeping turn to the right of Stevenson’s Arm and followed the mighty turquoise serpent of the Clutha River back to Wanaka Airport. Landing. Probably the most difficult aspect of flying to get right. And the most important to get right – for here there be land. And land can be rather unforgiving on a fabric and wooden craft hitting it at 60 knots. For my first time I was more than happy to give Pete the controls while mimicking his every move on my own. I felt him throttle down, my fingers tracing every move he made as he powered down; the stick pushed forward to regulate the speed. Letting an aeroplane get too slow on finals, it will fall out of the sky – line it up, bring it to the centre line of the designated runway, ease back to flare, feel for the ground and slowly close the throttle all the way off. Touch left and right on the rudder to stop the crafts natural inclination to dance in a circle. The front two wheels, or the mains touch first, easing forward on the stick to keep the tail up, slowing down, and the tail gently drops to the ground. Then full back on the stick to keep the tail down, using the rudder bars gently to keep it straight.
Finally – touch down! Rolling across the smooth grass of runway 29, crossing the tarmac and guiding ALJ home, it all happened so quickly and effortlessly. Before I knew it I was climbing down and patting her red and silver side. The grin on my face said it all as Pete asked what I thought of my first lesson. Maintaining an outward appearance of happy calm, I said I loved it. I said I couldn’t wait to do it again. I said I was hooked. All true. What I kept to myself was my tears of absolute bliss. I kept close to my heart the intense emotion that welled up inside, that made me want to whoop ecstatically, leap about ALJ in a dance of love and gratitude. I kept to myself the secret I will let you in on now – flying is terrifying! But flying a plane has made me feel more alive than anything else I’ve ever done. And truly, I cannot wait for my next lesson! As the ‘word wizard’ of Wanaka, New Zealand, Carla Munro spends her days experiencing everything the region has to offer and writing about it. www.lakewanaka.co.nz F www.facebook.com/LakeWanakaNZ www.instagram.com/lakewanakanz t www.twitter.com/lakewanaka_nz
OPPOSITE PAGE: Jennifer + Smith aka Jennifer Fowler and Rebekka Carey-Smith, are a Sydney based design duo with a passion for quality and original design. Using their combined backgrounds in landscape architecture, fashion, business and now textiles, they have developed a unique range of cushions and fabrics. www.jenniferandsmith.com F www.facebook.com/jenniferandsmith www.instagram.com/jenniferandsmith Photography: Brooke Holm Styling: Marsha Golemac
A PLACE LIKE NO OTHER THE SAN BLAS ISLANDS WORDS: Edward Richards IMAGES: Ryan Anderson
Situated in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Panama, lies the archipelago of the San Blas Islands. Comprising approximately 365 islands with 49 inhabited, the Kuna tribe make up the majority of the populace. Prior to living on the islands, the Kuna tribe resided in northern Colombia and around the hazardous Darien Gap. According to historians they apparently fled this area due to the Spanish invasions, conflicts with rival tribes and heavy mosquito populations. All of these anecdotes are however heavily contested. THE JOURNEY FROM Cartagena, Colombia to Panama City takes approximately four and a half days and most boats go via the San Blas Islands. There are various boats to choose from that make this trip on a weekly basis, however we had chosen the Independence. With room for 28 passengers, six crew plus the captain, the Independence stretches 85 feet long and is mounted with a steel bow, to cut through two feet of ice. It is 62 years old, though it was refurbished in 2002. In our company, were crewmembers from Colombia, Panama and Spain, along with five other passengers from England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. With ample room to stretch out and captained by Michelle originally from Yugoslavia, we set sail from Cartagena
at nine am on the first morning. As we headed out of the port we were welcomed with a refreshing beverage and a run down of the doâ€™s and donâ€™ts on the Independence. The Captain humoured us with some interesting stories on past events at sea, one specifically that involved a blocked toilet and a cucumber sized object. After the formalities, a healthy lunch was served and everyone stretched out on the sunbeds above deck, to take in the vast open Caribbean. As night approached the wind hit 12 knots with a consistent two to three metre swell. Dinner resembled a scene from Titanic as chairs, plates, cups and people rocked from side to side with the rising swell. Despite a scrumptious dinner, our insides were doing the same so we
all decided on an early night, as the swell was far from easing. Nobody slept longer than a few hours at a time that night and we were more than relieved when the sun rose. On our first full day at sea the ETA for the San Blas Islands was lunchtime. With the music blasting and our excitement building we spotted the atolls mid-morning; we felt like voyagers, who hadnâ€™t seen land for months. As the islands approached, the beauty of the San Blas left us in awe. It is hard to imagine, in a rapidly changing and globalising world, there still exists pieces of paradise like the San Blas; The Kuna intend to keep it that way, with no development, high sustainability and a mostly nomadic lifestyle. The region is
semi-autonomous, headed by a chief who liaises with the Panamanian government, with little intervention. The Kuna protect their islands from major tourism, which evidently has ruined other regions of the world. As we dropped anchor next to Coco Banderol island, the Kuna people stopped by in their dugout canoes, to sell us coconuts and load the Independence with fresh lobster for the evening. After lunch we were free to swim, snorkel, kayak and visit the islands close by. By mid afternoon we ended up on Coco Banderol island where we threw together some wood for the eveningâ€™s fire, chatted with some of the members of the Kuna tribe and shared our rum, as pirates do. With the turquoise water, white sand beaches, palms trees and the sun setting, I felt a wave of euphoria wash over me. The world seemed to stand still for a moment, a cathartic 1
moment. The evening consisted of ample lobster followed by drinks, dancing, local banter with members of the Kuna and a large bonfire. It was a day I will never forget. The following morning we arose with slightly sore heads, had a delightful breakfast and set sail for Elefante Island, several hours away. As we passed by the islets, some deserted and others with single or multiple huts on them I felt gratified; The San Blas Islands truly are a place of untouched, picturesque beauty. I just hope it remains that way. On arrival next to Elefante Island, a quick lunch was served and we were whisked away via skiff. The island consisted of a small bar, two single standing homes, an outdoor volleyball court, a family of ten with the most adorable children and several small yapping dogs. The family had been living there for eight years, with the
The Economist 2014, Drug Trafficking in the Caribbean. www.economist.com/news
nearest school and hospital twenty minutes away by boat. Our fellow sailor then introduced us to a game of Flunkey Ball; a team game that combines baseball, dodge ball and beer. Dinner that evening included fresh fish, coconut rice and beetroot salad. Evon the chef never failed to deliver delights to the palate. After dinner we were taken back to the boat to relax and fall asleep on the open deck under the stars. On our final full day we cleared customs on the island of Porveni. The process was the least bureaucratic that I had ever experienced. The captain took our passports via skiff to the island and returned ten minutes later with our approval to enter Panama â€“ no bag checks, security screenings, not even seeing an officer face to face. This sparked discussion amongst our group. In 2013, 16 per cent of cocaine imports into the US came through the Caribbean islands.1 After the brief but
assured entry to Panama, we were taken to Chichime Grande and Chichime Pequena Island. These two islands are surrounded by coral reefs that are extremely shallow at low tide. Evidence of the skill needed to traverse these waters, is by the several sunken boats that litter the ocean floor and protrude from the sea. Here the currents were extremely strong due to the immense amount of water moving around the atolls and reefs. We dropped anchor, grabbed some snorkels and explored the reef and the unfortunate boats that now call Chichime Islands home. We then explored the smaller of the two islands, meeting the two families that live on either side of the island. Their main sources of income are selling fish, lobster, coconuts, jewellery and some hand-woven mola. Mola is Kuna for clothing; it is extremely bright and colourful. Using the small amount of money, they purchase rice, flour, sugar and clothing. We attempted speaking Kuna with not much avail. The Kuna language is agglutinative and the words contain morphemes to establish their
meaning. A morpheme is not like a word, in that it stands by itself but can express an idea, thus linking several words into one. For example Takeimalo means goodbye or Nuweigambi – nice to meet you. Luckily they could speak some broken English and a few of us were reasonable with Spanish, their second language. Some also had cell phones, evidence of some disruption from the modern world. We were also fortunate enough to witness some newborn puppies. Lunch was served back on the boat and we were then taken to the bigger of the two islands. Admission here was two dollars per person. Chichime Grande Island has several Kuna built huts with which accommodation is offered, a small restaurant and a bar. Our final hours were spent relaxing on the white sand, swimming in the turquoise water, sipping Balboa, the local beer and taking some last photos. We were required to be back at the boat by four pm as the Captain needed to navigate out of the treacherous waterways. With our final sunset we approached Carti Island only several hundred metres
from the coastline of Panama. The following morning we awoke early had our final breakfast, exchanged details and left tips for the crew, who were outstanding, the whole trip. The Captain did have some odd tales throughout, which lead us to believe that he had spent a little too long at sea. We were picked up by the Kuna and taken into the Carti River. From there it was a two and a half hour 4x4 Jeep ride back to Panama City. For adventure seekers who want to witness a stunning, untouched utopia, the San Blas Islands are a must. To meet the indigenous Kuna tribe, that is so culturally vibrant and barely touched by the immense tourism industry was extremely memorable. It will be an experience that I will never forget Edward Richards is an adventure seeker with a passion for outdoors and learning. He believes life is about the people you meet, experiences you’ve endure, the places you’ve been, and to enjoy every moment along the way. www.instagram.com/edwardrichards86 t www.twitter.com/edrichards86
SURFING THE SIERRAS WORDS: Gavin McClurg IMAGES: Jody MacDonald
A highly engineered piece of fabric, some impossibly skinny lines, a harness big enough to hold some emergency gear, food and water, a radio, GPS, a sleeping bag and a mountain range in California that stretches over 800 kilometres. And a few knuckleheads who think it’s possible. A team of paragliders sets out to break the distance record for vol bivouac* flying in North America across the Sierra Mountains in California. A stunning visual journey that highlights the beauty and risks of self supported flight. LIKE ANY PROPER expedition, it began before the beginning. The plans, the maps, the logistics, the gear, the practise and training, and the team. To the sponsors we say things like ‘epic, wild, awesome.’ These words have become too common, barely having any meaning anymore, carelessly tossed around like a cafeteria potato salad. We try other combinations but they all fall short. So we try it in French; ‘Falbiv’. Fall, fly, biv, camp. Simple. Because we have no motor, Mother
Nature is our friend or foe. Our success or failure rides in the wind and thermals and good or bad decisions. On day one she is our foe and we can’t fly. We’re pilots, we’ve all been here many times before. We visit a school in Lone Pine, population 2,035, which is big for around here. We teach the students about what we do and try to successfully teach them why. For lunch the cafeteria is serving a low-grade beef burger on wonder bread, previously frozen bleached-
white bun. Ketchup is the vegetable de jour. Americana. But despite the lack of nutrition and heavy dose of sugar the kids are curious and attentive, excited about the break in routine. They touch our gear and squeal at the videos. One boy asks, “Have any of you ever landed in a tree?” Five or six hands go up. There are those that have and those that will. My time will come. One little girl asks for our autographs, and tells us she is going to become a pilot too. Welcome to the fringe my dear.
*Vol-bivouac pilots are paragliders who carry the necessary self-support equipment with them in flight and cross sections of mountainous terrain on foot and by air, using thermals and wind to cover vast distances over a period of several days or weeks.
At 18,000 feet, where exposed skin becomes frostbitten in a few minutes and the air is so thin that our minds function at a fraction of their capacity. Where clear thinking is impossible, we feel like gods. It’s a drug, an addiction that keeps calling you back, you can never get enough. Until that one day when you get so scared you can’t do it again. Or you get so hurt you can’t do it again. Or maybe you don’t even get that lucky. None of us think it will happen, not to me. We might be right; we’ve each got 1,000s of hours up here, in this world where we are not supposed to be. But the odds are worth the risk. We’ve each given ourselves 30 days to complete the task, across the Sierra Mountains from South to North and make the Oregan border in a long series of connected flights. Bivy, fly, camp. Launch high, fly high, and land high. Make camp, light a fire and cook
some noodles. Hydrate and laugh with your friends. Wander at the craziness of it all. Repeat for as long as we can. I don’t know the guys on the team very well, but I don’t need to. In the sky you’re on your own, other pilots just make it easier. Like birds or clouds or smoke, they provide an extra key to our invisible world. Air, rising or falling. Find the rising air and keep going. Simple. A lot of people call us crazy, maybe we are, but we’re also afraid. Afraid of life on the ground and afraid of routine. Afraid of the crap and distractions our minds seem to hold dear when we’re not in the air. People have to mediate for years to become present, all we have to do is launch. Escaping gravity, escaping reality or maybe living in it. This thing we do isn’t for everyone. It appeals to many but works for few, even though the dream of flight resides in most of us. Too few to even have proper
statistics I’m told. Some say paragliding is right up there with base-jumping and commercial fishing on the baring sea; kills a few and hurts many. So why, why do we take to the air? Going places, travelling, risking so much. The answer to this is in these images. Each time we see these photos it reminds us of when we chase something that’s never been done, something absurd and abhorrent. Jody MacDonald is an award winning adventure sport and documentary photographer. She loves getting off the beaten path and as long as she has her camera bag and no rigid plans, she’s exactly where she wants to be. www.jodymacdonaldphotography.com F www.facebook.com/ jodymacdonaldphotography www.instagram.com/jodymacdonaldphoto t www.twitter.com/jodyphoto
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