I often get emails asking why I don’t put my exact location on my website. I’ve never directly addressed the question, so here I’d like to briefly share my reasoning…
Some of the finest moments on my voyage have been those where I discovered a spectacular place, a wave, a waterfall, a lovely stretch of beach, etc–without the aid of a guidebook or waypoint. With all the technology and access to information we have in this day in age, surprises are limited. Most of the world is mapped and defined. We must go farther and farther to get off the beaten path. For someone who thrives on adventure, exploration, and pure experiences in nature, the wild world is endangered.
If the traveler who came before me left the place as they found it, my experience of stumbling upon a spot remains pure and unchanged. Because this kind of occurrence delights me so much, I strive to do the same, leaving as little impact as possible for those who come after me. In my opinion, it would be horribly selfish to hand out all the best spots and leave everyone else with a boring marked trail to follow! Nor do I want to be the reason for a surf camp or hotel popping up a few years later…there are already enough of those. My blog is for inspiration, not a ‘how to’…Figuring out the ‘how to’ is what makes life exciting! I think those that go without an exact destination and without expectations, always find their own special way.
Photographer and friend, Jeff Johnson (of 180 South), told me a fitting story once. In 1985, climbers Yvon Chouinard, Rick Ridgeway, Doug Tompkins, and itinerant cartographer Gerry Roach had been commissioned by National Geographic to explore a remote valley in Bhutan. Their objective was to climb the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, a 25,000 ft peak allegedly called ‘Gankar Punsum’. Because virtually no one from the outside world had visited the area, they had no idea where it was or how to find it. Some locals pointed them in the direction of some nearby mountains and after a month and a half of trekking and climbing, they ascended a 21,000 ft mountain only to see the peak of ‘Gankar Punsum’ far off in the distance. Resigning to the fact that they wouldn’t make it there on that trip, they remained in that valley, mapping and exploring for another few weeks. On their last night, all the guys sat around the campfire.
“What a great trip,” said Rick.
“Except for one thing,” Yvon replied.
“What’s that?” said Rick.
“The maps!” said Yvon.
“What’s wrong with the maps?” asked Rick.
“I think we should leave this place just as we found it,” said Yvon. “So the next people that come here will have the same experience.”
“What should we do?” asked Rick.
“Burn Em!” Yvon declared.
Gerry Roach, climber and itinerant cartographer, had worked tirelessly gathering details for the maps that were to be handed over to Nat Geo upon their return. But he understood, went to his tent and brought back the maps…
Broad grins aglow in the firelight, all four of them tossed the maps into the fire…
“National Geo was pissed.” Jeff finished, “But how classic! After all, aren’t the names of the best places in the world not found in magazines or newspapers but whispered in dark corners and written on the backs of soggy bar napkins?”
I couldn’t agree more. And so I sail on in this spirit…