New on Sidetracked:

Volume Nine

The Ninth Edition of our Printed Journal

We are still knee-deep in a bitter winter, with many facing years of uncertainty, so one might be forgiven for approaching the coming months with trepidation. Yet Sarah Outen, in her passionate foreword to this issue, echoes our own feelings: that adventure and the stories told by those who choose to experience the unknown, to immerse themselves in the new and unfamiliar, to bring light to the shadows by opening themselves up to the bountiful world around us, can only inspire us to do the same.


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We savour those ‘moments so intense that they are remembered for a lifetime’, as Stefan Glowacz writes, when telling his story of crossing Baffin Island. Hanli Prinsloo’s encounter with a seven-gill shark, weaving through wide belts of kelp, dancing with shafts of sunlight, reminds us that appearances can be deceptive and what lies beneath the surface is often more beautiful. Understanding those other worlds comes from living them, allowing yourself to be taken by their wondrous variety, and revelling in everything different.

For Sarah, the strongest theme in this issue is that of boundaries and their shifting states. They can be strong and well-defined, and they can be blurry and indistinct. Boundaries mean different things to different people: emotional, territorial, physical. Even spiritual. On the potentially poisonous waters of the almighty Ganges, where faith and life merge, or in the sky powered only by solar panels and where revolutionary ideals are intended to transcend borders. On the banks of the Coco River in Nicaragua, which has its own troubled history, the river is itself a border between one way of life and another.

In the cold, stark clutches of a Siberian winter Alegra Ally bears witness to the challenges of a life spent living with extremes. Before he picks up his violin for the first time on his busking trip in Spain, Al Humphreys sums up his fears, by saying: ‘It is time to embrace my vulnerability’. The boundary between life and death is sometimes a narrow one: the Coldest Crossing expedition understood that well as weather closed in and they were forced to balance their lives against their objectives and the ensuing media furore.

In adventure, we see interactions and exchanges, the reciprocal curiosity between travellers and locals, and the spontaneous kindness of strangers; the friendships built around shared fires at night or at the end of a belay. We see a world united by a love of what makes us different, by exploration, by a willingness to challenge the unknown.


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