On day 6 the wind suddenly comes to life and challenges us. Headwind is the biggest adversary of a stand up paddler. From one paddle stroke to the next, everything is questioned. The effort of each stroke is now not just a means to an end but an immediate goal. To keep on moving forward, we must put everything into our paddle, one stroke after the other. The waves make us rise and fall like a cork. Despite the bad conditions, the SUP’s fully packed are handling the ocean swell with conviction and our bodies feel at one with the board.
A stillness in the Arctic air warns summer’s long days will soon end and the cold northern breezes will call the winter in. But for the moment is endless light, and if fortunate, a midnight sun dancing with the horizon.
It all started with a daydream in the shower. Stand-Up Paddling in pure, untouched nature with unpredictable weather, no cruise-liners plying nearby waters, no wellness retreats or smashed avocado on toast; the only suite a tent with outdoor toilet. We would camp wild, fish for food and explore some of the regions beautiful mountains and lakes. Why not? The chance to experience the midnight sun was what drew us to undertake a self-supported 15-day, 250-kilometer Stand-Up Paddle journey in Norway, north of Tromsø, well within the Arctic Circle, around the islands of Rebbenesoya, Grotoya and Nordkvaløya.
It feels like we are paddling through a Swiss fairy tale; the Alps tower overhead and little villages cling to the cliffs as the lake presses in from all sides. However, it is the castle that demands all of our attention. It sits alone on the shore no more than a kilometer away. With each paddle stroke, the distance between us remains, as if the castle lies suspended on a gigantic canvas. One of the luxuries of Stand Up Paddling is that nothing moves fast. Everything slows down; there is time to look around, to feel nature and count one’s blessings.
A mammoth skeleton blocks our path around the next bend. As we paddle a few cautious strokes closer, the bony frame of the primitive beast constantly tumbling around in the burbling water reveals itself to be the remnants of a huge spruce that has fallen across the Holjeån River.
This river, in the north-east of the southern Swedish province of Skåne, also known as Scania, flows in broad loops from Östafors Bruk, through lush meadows and pristine nature before finally disgorging its waters into the lake of Ivösjön. With its wild riverbanks and huge tree trunks, it feels as though we are exploring a prehistoric land. The river is the first of three disciplines in our personal triathlon on the waters of Skåne. Jean-Luc, Justin and I have set ourselves the goal of paddling across the region from east to west on three waterways: the Holjeån River, the lake of Ivösjön and around the imposing peninsula of Kullaberg that juts out into the ocean channel known as the Kattegat. Our aim is to discover the original wilderness of Skåne and understand how this was shaped by natural forces, evolution and traditions.
We’ve been a week on the water off the Norwegian islands of Rebbenesøya, Sandøya, Grøtøya and Nordkvaløya. It’s been a mixed bag of weather conditions but overall we have been paddling some good distances.
It’s been months in the planning, lots of training in freezing rainy weather, a weekend expedition to the mountains, much equipment testing, but now we are ready.
How ready? Well, back in January this year PlanetVisible was looking for a new kind of adventure. It needed to be a beautiful place with a particular feel and physically challenging with a touch of danger.
There is haze on the horizon. Dry sand dust swirling up. The burning heat takes away your breath. The ground underneath your feet, a dry salt lake. There’s nothing there. Nothing except drought. Nothing except never-ending desert. Wasteland. We find ourselves in the nowhere, in the northwest of Nevada. No one would ever come to this place voluntarily. That’s what one would think. As a matter of fact, exactly that is tradition for some and a dream for many. On the last Monday of August, from one day to the other, this monotone landscape changes completely into something else. About 70 000 people build a city of tents, aligned in a circle. There, united in the desert, every year one of the biggest and craziest parties of the world takes place. Burning Man. An alternative festival for artists, idealists, hipsters, eccentrics, party lions and rubbernecks.
Through the beauty of portraiture, photographer Justin Hession hopes to spotlight the human ambiguities and complexities of the Kumbh and bring attention to the incredible spiritual dedication of the Indian people.
Having spent two weeks in a makeshift tent studio at the 2013 Kumbh Mela, Justin captured some extraordinary portraits of the pilgrims who are drawn to the Ganges every 12 years in the largest human gathering on Earth. He decided to created studio style portraits against a plain black backdrop to strip away the Kumbh’s colourful, intense circus like environment to focus and highlight the gracefulness of the individual pilgrim. The Kumbh Mela project contains over a 100 portraits of ‘the real pilgrims of the Kumbh’ who are drawn to the unimaginably large, loud and chaotic event in search of a pure life and seeks to show the personal dignity of the great spiritual event of the Kumbh Mela.
We are proud to be part of photo17, Switzerland’s largest showcase of photography.
We found it nice to be part of a team instead of the singular world of freelancing back home. It offered a platform where we could support and encourage each other as there were many tough times.
It’s a question we have been asked many times since returning from our project in the Nevada desert and we are still not sure how to answer it.
In 17 days we journey into the desert of Nevada equipped with cameras, strobes, bikes, fury costumes and open minds to explore, experience and capture the art and cultural festival of Burning Man.
We are incredibly pleased to launch our new website planetvisible.com
This is an important step for us. We invite you to stop by and spread the word and importantly feel free to leave a comment.