Editor's Letter | The Search Issue - November 2017
This month's features are about the search for adventure
Lead image by Chris Burkard
Adventures, almost by definition, start with a search. In days gone by this would have meant digging out an atlas, leafing through back issues of surf or bike magazines, or drooling over the descriptions in a guide book. These days, it’s more likely to mean typing a few keywords into Google’s search box.
There’s no doubt technology has removed some of the romance from the process - when the whole world’s information is literally at your fingertips, searching is no longer a skill in itself. And there’s no denying the idea of dusting off an old map sounds more appealing than pinching and zooming.
"The idea of dusting off an old map sounds more appealing than pinching and zooming."
But as anyone who’s booked a trip recently knows, the end result - poring over contours, or working out the time it’ll take to travel between strangely-named cities - is still just as exciting, regardless of whether the map is on an old scroll or an iPhone screen.
Just ask Chris Burkard, who we interviewed for our My Life in Pictures series this month. The photographer cut his teeth at the tail end of the analogue era shooting for print magazines, before becoming one of the first surf snappers to realise the potential of Instagram. He’s since amassed a frankly incredible 2.8 million followers, and a quick read of his comments show that he inspires thousands to go on their own trips with every shot.
Regular contributor Matt Carr is also no stranger to using the latest digital tools in the search for adventure - especially the modern, accurate surf forecasts that the web can provide. This month he travelled to the outer reaches of the Indonesian archipelago because he’d spotted a consistent-looking wave there that, reports said, wasn’t overrun with “hordes of white dreadlocked Australians". Getting there took some doing, but it was more than worth it.
Perhaps ironically, given the way he’d found out about Simeulue, the island itself turned out to be something of a digital black spot. But that only added to his sense that this was “what Bali was like back in the 70s".
Closer to home, Judy Armstrong headed to the Isle of Mull, deliberately searching for that sort of digital detox after a hectic few months. As part of our Great British Adventures series, she spent a long weekend sea-kayaking around its secluded coves and eating “seafood as it was meant to be. Fresh, simple, with just the slosh of wavelets as a soundtrack."
Her quest for peace and quiet is something Erling Kagge, who we spoke to for this month’s Big Interview, would certainly relate to. After all, he’s literally written the book on it. Now an international bestseller, Silence: In the Age of Noise includes the tale of how the explorer and author once spent 50 days hiking to the South Pole alone and unsupported. Not only did he find the complete silence he craved, he also discovered things he didn’t expect - about the landscape he was passing through, about the ice beneath his feet and most importantly, about himself.
This of course is the whole point of adventure. If you only ever found what you expected to find, travelling would be a pretty boring experience. What turns a trip or an expedition into an adventure is the unexpected, those things you never even dreamed you’d come across when you started your search.
Has technology made this easier? Kagge, would probably argue not. An avowed technophobe, he deliberately threw away the batteries in his radio when walking across the polar ice cap to make sure he had no outside distractions. But as Chris Burkard and Matt Carr’s stories show, new ways of searching can help inspire new adventures. Using the web might help you pinpoint exactly what you’re after more easily than an atlas, but it also makes it far easier to stumble across something you’d never expect to find.
Here’s hoping you find something unexpected in this month’s issue, which inspires you to further searches of your own.
Enjoy the adventure.
- Tristan, Editor-in-chief
To read this month's Search Issue, have a look here.