A year ago I set off from my home on an open-ended trip with no idea what I'd do once I landed in Hong Kong.
What would come next? Where would I go? Who would I meet? Dunno.
What happened was a year of unforgettable experiences and connecting with amazing people. I'll write more on those at a later date, but first, the rebirthday.
Exactly 365 days since I backed my car out of the driveway in the snow, I found myself walking through the air.
I had the pleasure of reconnecting with many great people I met throughout the year; several of my friends made the trek over to Tonsai Beach in Thailand for a slackline festival.
I couldn't imagine a more perfect setting with such amazing people to celebrate one year on the road.
Here's what went down…
Here's what happens when you bring a slackline to the local kids. I've brought the line around all over my travels for the last year but nothing beats these kids for how fast and daring they are.
Last year my climbing partner Marc and I headed to the Mt. Blanc area in France and Italy for a three week mountaineering trip. Our guide Owen from Ibex Guides took us up to the Argentiere Hut, which we would use as our base to climb the Aguille du Argentiere.
We geared up in the valley and boarded the gondola and ascended to the first lift station, saving us the first 1000 meter ascent. Our original plan was to take a second car higher up but we were foiled by high winds.
After an hour or so we reached the foot of the glacier where we donned our crampons and set out on to the ice. The glacier would become our classroom for the next few hours where we would refine our travel, rope, and technical skills.
It also served as an opportunity for Owen to evaluate our abilities to ensure we weren't going to be biting off more than we could chew as the trip rolled out.
The summertime conditions on the glacier had melted all the surface snow, exposing a countless numbers of crevasses. Progress was slow, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Once out of the crevasses we walked across the smooth top of the glacier for an hour or two to reach the Argentiere Hut. The scale of the landscape is incredibly misleading when it comes to judging distances. What seems like "just a few minutes to get there" is really "walk for an hour or two to arrive".
We arrived at the hut, dropped our bags, and planned the following day's objective which would be climbing the nearby Aguille du Argentiere via the Milieu glacier.
In December of 2012 I was downsized out of my corporate job. Hey, it happens.
Fortunately, not having a job to show up to afforded me an opportunity to head to the Grand Canyon for some hiking and a sense of perspective.
I had intended to go on a solo mission into the canyon; I had prepared an awesome playlist of inspiring music, set up my video camera to document the trip, and was excited to venture into the wilderness alone. I intended to shoot video throughout the hike and upon my return create a montage of my experience alone in the wild and share it, Survivor Man style. This was my project.
I was ready and anxious for the journey: my bags were packed, food, supplies, filters, water, shelter, everything I needed to be self-sufficient was on my back and at my fingertips. Man vs wild. Alone. Survivorman.
At the trailhead however, I met a first-time hiker who appeared intimidated by the task ahead. I offered assistance and in that moment unwittingly accepted a hiking partner. My self-described "big solo mission" had now turned into a guiding event.
As we descended into the canyon I felt that I had somehow betrayed my intention; I was here to go it alone, but now I was becoming responsible for another. And although my initial plan went flying out the window, it turned out to be one of the best choices I ever made.
On the way down I learned something about myself -- I realized that I was significantly more capable than I had initially believed I was. I was able to share my knowledge and experience to help another person navigate an unknown environment safely. I felt I learned more in sharing this experience than I ever could have by myself.
I had the privilege of watching someone accomplish something they never thought they could do. I guess this is what it feels like to be a teacher. And, since I was already making a video for myself I offered to do the same. I know I love my travel videos, so why not make a memory for someone else to share too?
So, without further ado may I present Joo-hee's perspective from her Grand Canyon hike. Congratulations, you did it!
There's something to be said with pushing your creation out into the world before it's "finished". I've been sitting on a mountain of raw video clips from this year's trips to Mt. Blanc and the Grand Canyon, waiting for the "best" time to sit down and edit them together.
My original intention was to do a series of four video clips focused on the Mt. Blanc trip and release them in series. Instead of that I made a 60 second clip for my previous employer from my footage which won a video contest and landed me a trip to Los Angeles for a week. With that small victory the wind came out of the sails and the 4 part series was abandoned. I had already rough-cut two clips and nearly finished a third. For some reason though, I hung up the spurs and the project sat idle, awaiting a "good time to work on it".
Months elapsed and the truth became evident -- there was never going to be a "good time to work" on my project. Tinkering never got things finished. And what is "finished" anyway?
With that realization I committed to complete my edit of the fourth video and release it ahead of the first three -- Star-Wars style. Although this was in direct opposition to what I thought I wanted to do; following through with it has actually released the huge creative block I was having with the project in its entirety.
I can't be too hard on myself after all, I'm new at this -- it takes a bit of time for my skills to ascend to the level of my ambitions, but I know undoubtedly that inch by inch I'll get there. But, like any ascent, it has to start with a first step.
So here we go, without further ado, video 4 of (possibly) 4 in a series from a mountaineering trip with my friend Marc to Chamonix and Mt. Blanc. Enjoy!