France Unseen

Within these pages you will find all things archetypically French, from snow-covered chalets, mighty châteaux and fromage, to every variety of wine a connoisseur could desire. But you’ll also encounter the unexpected – food- inspired jaunts through the Pyrénées-Orientales, journeys across the Alps in the footsteps of literary giants and a coastal road trip that pays homage to the elegance of yesteryear. This is a country of jasmine harvests, market splendour, Parisian decadence, fairy tale islands and adventure; a place to chase light and history and appreciate the marvels of terroir and creative daring. Full of the singular, serendipitous and spectacular, France, je t’aime.

Every issue our talented-beyond-words contributors share with us the most outstanding work. However, being limited by pages we simply can’t print it all. So, we wanted to share with you just a few of the spectacular French images we didn’t have space for – these come from Sarah Arnould, Arturo Bamboo, Tom Bunning, Mary Gaudin, Jim Johnston, Georgina Skinner, Renae Smith, Beth Squire and Angela Terrell.

To buy a copy of our France magazine (or invest in a few back issues) click here.

 

Back To The California Coast

Below is an extract from our new book with New Heroes & Pioneers, to be released just in time for Christmas. You can learn more about the project and order a copy by clicking here.

Enamoured with foreign landscapes and the promise of escape, it is difficult to resist the romance of distant shores. Some of these yearnings may remain idle, little more than wanderlust-infused daydreams, while others are enough to see us journey into the unknown. Yet, as glorious as the new and undiscovered may be, once we have explored a destination (living like a local and venturing beyond the tourist trail), it’s not uncommon to find that there are certain spots we can’t help but return to. While first encounters are marvellous, following a pathway back to the familiar can be just as inspiring.

Photographer Virginia Woods-Jack has visited the Californian coast on many occasions, enthralled by its natural wonders and soulful inhabitants. Seeing her depictions of Venice Beach, with its laid-back surfing vibes, and the mellow scenes of the Encinitas area, it’s not difficult to imagine why.

From her first visit to these glowing shores, Virginia felt like she was coming home; somewhere she hadn’t been for a while that was familiar nonetheless. With the beauty of the scenes and the calm of the people observed remaining constant, each visit was a reminder of that first encounter – a chance to once again capture smiles, soft light and rolling waves. However, Virginia’s lens was also drawn to the subtle changes in the landscape, the shifts in mood and colour that arose with the turning seasons. Over time these changes helped bring the setting to life, elevating it from mere ‘holiday destination’ into something alive and ever-evolving. And so, with each return Virginia asked herself the same question – what would life be like if this was truly home?

It is by revisiting certain destinations that we are able to reflect on the pathways we have chosen: where we find ourselves, where we have been and who we wish to be. From here, far from the constraints of the everyday, we can do more than recall fond memories or sate our inner vagabond. We can instead focus on the minute, appreciate the altering patterns and perfection of nature and plot future journeys surrounded by a setting that remains strangely familiar. We know the scenes before us will transform before we return, and we might too – the sense of possibility forever promising.

Words by Yvette Edwards and photographs by Virginia Woods-Jack.

 

 

 

New Zealand Outtakes

At Lodestars Anthology magazine we adore our travelling contributors. Every issue we are sent beautiful words, images and illustrations that inspire wanderlust and remind us just how many talented folks are out there creating in the world. One of the biggest challenges however is selecting just a few of the images sent to us – we may be given 30 shots from a photographer, yet we only have 6 pages to fill. So, we’ve decided to share some of the unpublished gems from our latest New Zealand magazine, which you can buy here … along with Liz’s editor’s letter. Yet again, proof that digital and print can work rather wonderfully together. 

I must confess, this is the part of the magazine I always face last – a final cathartic hurdle before breath is held, pages are approved and a new issue is sent into the world. And while I am writing this, yet again, when all stories have been submitted, it explores an idea that occurred to me early on in my Aotearoa tour; an odyssey that took in as much of the South Island as time and geographic limitations would allow.

I wondered in those early travelling days what I should dedicate this editor’s letter to – how to best define the mood and grandeur of this great island nation. I could have waxed lyrical about its beauty (the work of a dramatic past and pioneering spirits), its residents’ creativity, or the friendliness that accompanies every interaction. There was food, wine, landscapes and adventure. But, after spending a few days around the north-east coast, none of this seemed quite right.

In November 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Kaikoura. And, while New Zealand is a country well acquainted with geological instability, this was different. The township of Kaikoura is renowned for its whale watching, coastline and community spirit, yet five months after the incident it was the ravages of the quake that stood out. There was a quietness, with tourists scarce and many buildings abandoned – in some cases the structural damage was immediately apparent but in others it was difficult to fathom why their doors remained closed. Locals described how they’d been cut off from the rest of the country (the highway from Christchurch had only just re-opened and the road north to Marlborough remained impassable) and the heartbreak felt when the bumper summer season they depended on simply didn’t happen. It couldn’t. No-one could get there.

With this part of the South Island continuing to dust itself off, I took a moment to consider why I am so drawn to travel. While it may be a mode of discovery, the chance to see unchartered terrain and encounter icons, it also comes with a sense of purpose. In places like Kaikoura, damaged through no fault of their own, the one thing we can do as travellers to aid their recovery is visit. If we are lucky enough to be able to see the world, and willing to do so, we should take in these communities, play our part and, more often than not, find something remarkable in the process.

So book your New Zealand ticket – as the following pages will attest it’s a staggeringly magnificent place. Not only will this county soothe your soul, leave you speechless and make you yearn for more, but I know a town that will thank you for it.

Images by Angela Terrell, Evi Ritter, Virginia Woods-Jack, Liz Schaffer and Georgina Skinner.

The New Zealand Magazine

We are pleased to announce that our ocean, wilderness, adventure, design, food, art and wine filled New Zealand magazine will be arriving back from the printers later this week – which means that everyone who pre-ordered with have their little bundle of printed wanderlust sent out to them over the weekend. We can’t wait to share our latest project with you – the work of many wonderful writers, photographers and illustrators from across the globe. In the magazine we chat to chef Peter Gordon and actor/wine maker Sam Neill, kayak around Abel Tasman National Park, sip wine in Nelson, cycle from the alps to the sea, discover the food and beaches of Auckland, find the perfect cup of coffee in Wellington, encounter Kiwis on Stewart Island, seek out calm corners shrouded in history, learn to be mindful, sleep in luxury under the stars, tackle the Great Walks, return home and get swept up in Queenstown’s calm – and that’s just a few of the adventures found upon our pages!

You can order your copy (as well as back issues and subscriptions) by clicking here. For now, here is a sneak peak of some of our New Zealand pages – happy reading (and travelling too)!

 

“We ventured inland across the Alps, through the beech forests and rugged schist ravines of the Haast Pass – once an ancient Māori greenstone trail – emerging into what appeared to be an entirely different country.”

 

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“Not only do artisans and small-batch producers buy each other’s work, they often trade goods based on what’s available. Art for firewood. Jam for flour.”

 

“There really is no place like home. I’d just had to go to the other side of the world and back to get here.”

 

“Ideal for anyone yearning to go off-grid, parts of Fiordland have never encountered a human visitor – but perhaps that’s where its beauty lies, in its inaccessibility.”

 

“This is a beach for solitude, for long walks, and for washing the city away; where heartache and hustle are given up to the waves.”

 

 

 

 

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Eating in Ortygia

Words and photographs by Kate McAuley.

I’ve come back to Ortygia to eat. It’s been a year since I first visited this the historical centre of Syracuse, arguably the prettiest city in all of Sicily. Back then I was here for the history, stomping around the impressive Duomo, replete with its mishmash of Greek and Baroque styles, and the ubiquitous archeological sites whose ruins tell the story of the Italian city’s lengthy and chequered past.

This time, however, I am here to imbibe – and imbibe I did: mind, body and soul. I visit the daily food market and bite into a tomato as if it were an apple, the juice running down my chin. I watch in awe as the purveyor of sea urchins makes like work of his product, cutting open each spiny creature with a pair of rusty scissors to reveal the delicacy within. Freshly caught squid and octopus squirm and glisten. Salted fish, spiced olives and oranges as bright as the centre of the sun draw my attention in equal measure.

I walk along the ancient walls spooning gelati into my mouth. I sip a negroni as the sun sets over the water. I pester a chef to teach me how to make the perfect spaghetti ai vongole. His secret: crushed garlic, fresh clams and cherry tomatoes (when they’re season) flash fried in a pan with olive oil his wife’s family make and some salt water from the pasta pot. Try as I might and despite its simplicity, this perfect dish is something I’ll struggle to recreate at home. Looks like I’ll have to come back.

If you’d like to read more of our Italian adventures, you can order our Italy Issue here.

 

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Spring sunshine in Faro

Words and photographs by Kate McAuley

Given its underwhelming popularity, it would be easy for Faro, the capital of Portugal’s Algarve, to have an inferiority complex, but it continues to hold its own. At the airport, as the hoards to tourists head west, lured by the region’s epic beaches and resort towns, I breathe a sigh of relief and take a short taxi ride into the sleepy port town that is to be my home for the next three days. 

I’d been to Faro before, so when it popped up as a relatively cheap destination for a few days of spring sunshine following a fairly dismal London winter, I didn’t hesitate. With memories of clams cooked in butter, white wine and garlic, and endless blue skies, I knew it would be the perfect salve. 

With its broken cobbled streets, ubiquitous graffiti and decaying buildings, it’s hard to call Faro pretty. The town has the rundown feeling of a place forgotten, but there are pockets of beauty if you take the time to look. On the pedestrianised streets by the marina, I eat freshly baked pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) while inside Faro’s ancient walls, I walk past the fruiting orange trees by the cathedral to drink a glass of vinho verde as the sun sets over the water. I eat the aforementioned clams at every meal they’re offered – invariably prawns, octopus and chorizo (barbecued at the table over a mini spit) join them. 

Before heading home, I take a short ferry ride to Baretta Island. Also known as Ilha Deserta, this small parcel of sand has a single restaurant, a few fishing huts and nothing much else – unless you count the seagulls and other birdlife I encountered on the 2km boarded walk I took before heading back to the mainland. 

And here lies the reason I returned to Faro – sun, sand and peaceful moments. An unusual find in this part of the world. 

Paradise Found

When the winds stir up and clouds descend, it is an island that offers sanctuary – among other deep-sea and earthy delights.

Words & Photographs by Lucy Howard-Taylor

702 kilometres northeast of Sydney, at the intersection of five ocean currents and a submerged continental rib, thrusts forth the remains of an ancient shield volcano. Eroded over seven million years to one fortieth of its original size, Lord Howe Island rises like a wind-shorn jewel from the waters of the Tasman Sea; eleven kilometres long by as little as three hundred metres wide, a vibrant blue-green, its twin peaks capped in cloud. From the sky, the island almost looks like the mossed jawbone of some long-extinct creature given up by the sea.

It may be less than a two hour flight from the crush of Sydney, but the moment you step from the Dash-8 onto the tarmac of Lord Howe’s only airstrip, there is a palpable sense of remoteness. There is no mobile reception on the island and no traffic lights (with next to no cars, bicycles silently reign supreme), but the lack of modern conveniences one might mistake for essential cannot wholly account for the subtle separation felt upon arriving in this UNESCO World Heritage listed property. It is disarmingly beautiful, in an unruly, enveloping way that robs you of words. But there is a strangeness to this wilderness too, with its opalescent lagoon fringed with coral, its deep green canopies of kentia palms, cowrie-studded beaches and panoply of birds.

Travelling in the middle of winter to a subtropical island and the world’s southernmost coral reef may seem perverse, but Lord Howe wore its wild weather hat well. On the tarmac I was left breathless by a brisk wind that tasted of salt and wet leaves. In bed that first night, with large fronds bashing each other outside my window, the roar of the trade winds was almost animal. During the day rain rolled in with no warning and cleared just as suddenly, leaving everything glistening. A wind cheater was essential, and should you go out at night, a torch: there are no streetlights here and the inky completeness of the darkness, broken by a milky wash of stars, took this city dweller by surprise. First things first, hire a bike, even if like me you cannot ride one. With only 360 permanent residents, a maximum of 400 tourists at any one time and 13 kilometres of undulating scenic road, there is ample opportunity for a novice to practice unobserved. Pack a picnic and ride to the preternaturally still and secluded Old Settlement Beach, where three men, three women and two boys came to live in 1833, trading with passing vessels. Or pop over to Ned’s Beach where you can snorkel among fantastically coloured coral gardens (there is an honesty box for hiring gear), or wade closer to shore and hand-feed swarms of tropical fish with names like Silver Drummer and Spangled Emperor. At dusk, throngs of muttonbirds return to their burrows in the low-lying palm forests nearby. As sunset arrives, their distinctive, searching cries can approach an almost human wailing.

These pristine waters host some of the best diving in the world, with an unearthly sunken landscape of volcanic drop-offs, trenches and caves lined with black coral trees, branching gorgonians and over 90 varieties of luxuriant subtropical coral. For those for whom the prospect of coming face to face with the blue teeth of a Harlequin Tuskfish in an underwater canyon sounds vaguely terrifying, you can charter a glass-bottomed boat instead and enjoy the spectacle dry and unmolested from the crystalline surface of the lagoon.

At the southernmost end of Lagoon Road is the start of the Little Island Track, which follows the shoreline to the black basalt cliffs of Mount Lidgbird. Lord Howe is a walker’s delight and this marked and level track meanders its way past picturesque Lovers Bay and through thickly crowded valleys of soughing kentia palms (keep your eyes peeled and you might see a native woodhen grunting happily in the shadows), to the base of the mountain and its stony shores of calcarenite and dark sea-sculpted rocks. Here, especially between March and October, you will see wheeling clouds of one of the world’s rarest seabirds, Providence petrels, diving over the cliffs as they chatter and return to breed. For the more energetically inclined walker, a climb to the scrubby top of Malabar Hill leads to one of the best views of the island and a dramatic scraggy drop to the sea. Alternatively, sign up for the famous day hike to the summit of Mount Gower, where you will find yourself among the twisted trees and inveterate mist of what the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage actually designates as Gnarled Mossy Cloud Forest, which sounds more enchanted than ecological.

Enchantment is a recurring theme here. As the days pass, I discover that there is something about this island that is both calming and unexpectedly foreign, a wandering otherness that finds its way in on the throats of seabirds and endows plants with a luminous variety of green. The natural landscape is not only astonishingly lush – isolation, topographic peculiarity and igneous soils have spawned a paradise of ferns, palms, orchids and microhabitats – but feels unusually ancient, almost untouchable. Nowhere is this impression more powerful than in the broody Valley of the Shadows, where 20 metre high trees mottle the light. To stand alone amid this silent grove of banyans, their aerial roots muscling to the ground like the suspended legs of giants, is to realise the difference that is Lord Howe Island. It is to approach the primeval and be at home amongst the extraordinary.

From Lodestars Anthology Issue 3, Australia

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Bolivia the Beautiful

Words and photographs by Kate McAuley.

Frozen fingers. Lonely flamingoes. Tufty scrubland. A dome of blue sky. Pastel lakes. Slow trains with white tablecloths and real china. Cheap beer. Hand-knitted alpaca wool socks. Salty pentagonals. And a light case of high altitude pulmonary oedema. These are just a handful of memories of Bolivia in late May.

I crossed the border on foot – from La Quiaca (Argentina) to Villazon (Bolivia) – and jumped on a leisurely train to Tupiza. From there, along with a guide called Elvis and an evangelical traveller preaching a new religion, we drove into the mountains.

For four days we travelled across stark plains and Martian desert scapes. We climbed high and gazed at geysers and braved the biting wind to paddle in geothermal pools. At night, while the the King of Rock practiced walking on his hands, my travelling companion did his best to convince me that God exists simply because so many people believe in her. In bed, with the temperatures plummeting to -10ºC, I tried (and failed) to keep warm under a pile of slippery sleeping bags.

In spite of their beauty and vast horizons, Bolivia’s Andean Highlands are sparsely populated – by humans and animals alike. A few small towns exist here and there – the locals who brave the weather are mostly employed to serve tourists or to farm. Infrastructure is minimal: hot showers are synonymous with luxury, WiFi is practically non-existent, and it’s lights out at 10pm. But what need did I have for these extraneous things in an environment where every twist and turn brought some new marvel to keep my curiosity, and cravings for my creature comforts, at bay?

The annual flamingo migration was coming to an end, so it was only a lazy few that we saw wading ankle deep through the many lakes we passed, scooping up algae with their hooked beaks while pondering where their hundreds of thousands of friends had gone. The only other animals we saw were the ubiquitous alpacas, replete with ear streamers and expressions of complete indifference.

After three nights spent at air-gulping altitudes, we got got up before sunset and dropped down onto the vast plateau of the Salar de Uyuni – the world’s largest salt flat. In all honesty, I thought this would be somewhat of an anti-climax, but as the sun rose and the crackly pentagonals began to appear, my wonder grew. Stark white in all directions, our colourful clothes, even my pale skin, in full contrast. If you ever want to feel both small and inconsequential, but so utterly connected to our earth, this is the place to visit.

Kate joined the basic four-day Tupiza-Uyuni tour with La Torre Tours.

Notes on Japan

Words and photographs by Kate McAuley

A friend asked me recently, after reading my wabi-sabi essay in our latest issue, if there’s anything else about Japanese culture that I’ve applied to my daily life – an intriguing question that got the cogs turning.

Japan was the first of the many countries I’ve lived in since leaving Australia. Arriving after a massive false start (the first plane I caught to Osaka fell out of the sky), I had never felt so foreign in my life. It was the mid-90s and there I was: 19-years old, 6-feet tall with blonde wavy hair to my waist and blue eyes. To say I stood out is an understatement.

Perhaps if I’d been living in Tokyo or one of the other mega-cities the differences wouldn’t have been as acute, but I spent most of my time in Kanazawa, a picturesque university town, and on Kikai-Jiima, a tiny sliver of an island in the Ryukyu archipelago so remote that most Japanese people have never heard of it.

For the most part, the attention I received was well-intentioned curiosity, but it took me a while to come to terms with feeling so different as well as being the open topic of public conversation – a fact I was all too aware of as I learned to speak the language.

In Japanese the common word for foreigner is gaijin, which literally translates as ‘outside person,’ a fact that’s unsurprising given the countries unique relationship with the rest of the world. They did, after all, deny entry to most foreigners for over 200 years as part of the Sakoku policy that held fast from 1639 to 1853. And it’s this sense of the other – along with with fact that I can fold a mean origami crane and make the best okonomiyaki this side of Cape Irizaki – that I’ve carried with me ever since.

Growing up in Australia, I always felt uncomfortably out of place, but spending two years in Japan taught me to embrace my differences – and eventually use them to my advantage. There is something very powerful in being an ‘outside person.’ You become more daring. You can disarm. And failure seems to mean less. It’s an attitude I’ve tried to embrace everywhere I’ve either lived or travelled to since – and it hasn’t let me down yet.

This post was inspired by Kate’s essay, extracted below, on wabi-sabi in the Japan issue of Lodestars Anthology.

I’m kneeling at a low table, legs folded politely but painfully beneath me. My host, the wife of a university professor tasked with welcoming me to Japan, has invited me to tea. I rest my cup, which is more of a bowl as it has no handle, in the palm of my hand. I run my thumb over its mottled earthy surface, tracing with my fingernail the gold-flecked cracks that highlight rather than hide its so-called flaws. I notice that the rim is not quite symmetrical as I raise it to my lips. 

At the time – it was the first week of the two years I would spend living in the country – I didn’t realise that the aesthetic I was admiring was actually a small example of something far more philosophically relevant – a notion so deeply rooted in Japan’s culture and identity that it even had its own name: wabi sabi.

To read the rest of the essay, as well as immerse yourself in 160-pages of Japanese art, culture and travel,
pick up a copy of our latest issue, available for purchase here.

















The Playground of the Gods

Marina Marcolin, Lodestars Anthology Issue 7, Japan

Words by Cameron Zeyd Lange & Illustrations by Marina Marcolin

Mount Asahidake, the highest point of this wild island, rose up before me in a great mass of black ash and eternal snow. The volcano hasn’t erupted for 200 years but the smell of sulphur still stings the nose. I stood on the edge of Sugatami Pond, one of many lucid pools that mark this marshland, and watched as the fog thickened around the slopes. The water at my feet was like glass, without crease or wrinkle despite the rain, almost mythical, and I was struck by an urge to kneel and drink from it. I refrained, of course – it would have sooner made me sick than strong – but perhaps I should have, for in the end I would need the courage. A typhoon was coming in from the Pacific and I had five days to walk the crescent spine of the national park before it made landfall over Honshū and climbed the length of Japan towards Hokkaido. At last I tore myself away from the spectral water and set off eastward, my hood pulled low over my eyes.

I passed no one on the way up, moving through slanted plains of crumbling volcanic glass which turned to ash as I climbed higher. Before long everything I could see seemed to reflect back to me in negative, divided between the black earth and a white sky. Indeed the only colour in that monochrome world was the moss growing under the rocks, glowing like green jewels, almost fluorescent as if to compensate. Then, further up still, the mountain broke out into a flush of red and pink, the primordial evidence of vast lava fields and the molten wasteland it had once been.

When I squinted it was as if the earth itself was burning. The summit, when I finally reached it, was exposed to the wind and rain and I did not stop to rest. Instead I scrambled in wide strides down the other side of the treeless mountain, digging my heels into the loose ground. Only the occasional lick of yellow paint marked the onward trail, which soon disappeared beneath a vast snow plain that stretched out into the mist without apparent edge or end. Somebody had attached a rope to lead the way but it too vanished only a few steps ahead. The scene felt like a warning, a border I shouldn’t cross. But I held the rope with both hands and walked out, testing the strength of the ice with every step. Halfway across, with the whole world washed clean of form or feature, unable to see where I had started but with the end not yet in sight, I felt blind and afraid. The only evidence that I was on earth at all was the mud I left trailing across the ice. When I finally reached the other side, I looked back and knew I had crossed a frontier from which I could not return. From then on I would only leave these mountains by walking out of them on the other side.

Marina Marcolin, Lodestars Anthology Issue 7, Japan
Shortly before sunset the mountain hut I was looking for emerged from the fog and I lunged impatiently towards its sodden door. Making a space to sleep in the corner of the bare room, I boiled a pot of water for a quick meal, wrung out the sweat and rain from my dripping clothes, and draped them over the rafters. Then I scribbled

Where the hell am I?

into the margins of my damp journal and fell asleep as soon as it was too dark to see.

In the morning, as if in reply to my fevered note, the sun came out, revealing at last where I had spent the night. The shelter was built on the northern crest of a narrow plateau, easy terrain and brilliantly green. Revived by the light, I walked for a few precious hours flanked on one side by cliffs and clouds that masked the depths of the fall and on the other by the surviving snow. I settled into a metronomic stride up and over Mount Chūbetsu, my blood pumping in a paired rhythm. My clothes were finally drying and I was growing confident; it was even sunny enough to burn my ears. But by the afternoon the clouds I had looked down on rose to meet me, and this time, although I did not yet know it, the fog would not lift again.

Marina Marcolin, Lodestars Anthology Issue 7, Japan

I slept that night by the shore of a large crater lake. Its water, reflecting the sky and the snow on the slopes, rippled white as milk. During a break in the rain I ate my dinner barefooted on the beach and buried my toes in the sand, hoping to shock them back to life after the afternoon’s numbing tramp through the mud. It half worked, and I went to bed feeling determined and resolute, exhilarated by the wild weather and the presence of mind it demanded of me.

The next morning the fog was thicker than ever, laced once more with black rain. Beneath the shadow of Mount Tomuraushiyama, I heard the sound of a bell – used by walkers in these mountains to warn the bears of one’s approach – and quickened my step towards it. Eventually two silhouettes appeared from the mist. Surprised to find me alone, the two men treated me like a lost lamb and offered me, in true Japanese fashion, almost all the food and water in their pack and even a kit to repair my torn trousers. I knew to refuse – one should never take another hiker’s provisions – but their presence alone comforted me and I prolonged the encounter as much as the language barrier allowed. They were homebound men in a way that I was not, and they knew it too; as I walked away I could feel them watching me, wondering if it was wise to let me leave at all.

Marina Marcolin, Lodestars Anthology Issue 7, Japan

I spent the rest of the day following my feet through the valleys, my sense of distance and time distorted by my sightlessness. With nothing of the outside world to stir the mind, my thoughts increasingly turned inwards, and I repeated the three Bashō poems I knew like a prayer. The land, shorn of its detail, seemed to echo the very essence of his haikus: austere and exact, giving me no more and no less than I needed. In other ways it was the physical manifestation of a Zen kōan, designed to provoke doubt in the whole enterprise. In that it succeeded; it was getting harder and harder to tease out meaning from that shrinking world. “Walking”, Rebecca Solnit wrote,

“is how the body measures itself against the earth.”

But what am I to do when the earth itself is hidden? And what if my body, denied the anchor of the horizon line, begins to vanish too?

Marina Marcolin, Lodestars Anthology Issue 7, Japan

By the afternoon I had run out of water, the streams that my map promised having never materialised. I paced on through the thicket and gathering storm, shouting now and then to alert the bears, continuing long into the first hour of darkness. When I could walk no further I found a small patch of flat earth softened by the rain and set up my tent. I ate a couple of oat bars to placate my hunger and tried to fall asleep quickly to forget my thirst.

With the dawn came a pounding headache. I sipped all the dew I could from the morning leaves and set off gingerly into the dull light. After an hour I reached a swollen stream and drank several litres squatting on my heels in the orange mud. To the southwest loomed Mount Oputateshike and I had no choice but to climb it; the path offered no shortcuts and to forge one of my own would have been suicide.

Marina Marcolin, Lodestars Anthology Issue 7, Japan

As I left the valley’s protection the wind grew so strong that I had to turn my back to it simply to breathe and soon it took all of my waning strength to walk at all. Every gust threw me sideways, whipping flints of ice into my face. The steep hairpin trail, littered with flaking pumice rocks, disintegrated beneath my feet. As I climbed higher the wind grew angrier still and it suddenly caught the rain cover of my pack like a sail and flung me backwards, sweeping my legs from under me. I heard the sound of something snapping: my walking stick, hanging in half, had broken my fall. I watched my rain cover fly away down the mountain, like a kite I would never see again. I don’t know how much time passed before I reached the peak. But there, instead of coiling downhill as I had hoped, the trail followed the ridge of the mountain. Parts of it were no more than a yard across, sinking into nothingness on either side. One wrong step would be my end. I had no choice but to fall to the ground, breathing heavily with my cheek in the mud, and crawl like a soldier from cover to cover. My naked pack, acting now as a sponge for the rain, felt like a boot pressed against my spine and I had to use all my experience to fight my rising panic. Don’t stop, I thought.

Don’t stop.

The full version of this article appears in Lodestars Anthology Issue 7: Japan.

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