Two Years and Two Months

I still find it hard to realise that what should have been a three months trip just ended after two years and two months of adventure between the Arctic and the Himalayas. It is not without a certain emotion that I remember how everything started. Back in Tromsø, Norway, I was at work, stuck behind my computer, reading a few travel photography blogs during the breaks, dreaming that one day I would be the one on the other side of the screen. The seed of adventure was secretly starting to grow in me…

Tromsø panorama, Norway

The company I was working for closed, putting an end to my dream of living in Norway. Back then, I didn’t realise that this fatality would actually be the key that would open far bigger doors, offering me this opportunity to go beyond everything I had ever imagined.

Jokulsarlon icicle under sunset, Iceland

A couple of weeks later, I found myself in Iceland with a box of Partagas and the survival kit of a camper-photographer. Then followed Norway, Finland and Sweden — my beloved Scandinavia! This road-trip should have ended right there, as we planned. Fortunate was I when I discovered that I could work in a sledding dogs farm in Finnish Lapland. I believe that’s where my craziest dreams started to grow, between two frozen neurones. I was slowly but surely becoming more of a dog than a human being while my mind was focused on a destination I never thought of before. In a body fully dedicated to the Arctic like a monk to his church, the growing seed of adventure would push me towards the highest mountains in the world: the holy Himalayas which peaks flirt with the gods themselves.

Polar, a white siberian husky

The transition was hard. When you visit a developing country for the first time of your life, there are some visions, sounds and smells that will leave their mark on you forever. For me, it was the first minutes in the taxi leaving Kathmandu airport. The sound, the dust and pollution, and all these people sitting on bare ground, trying to sell petty things to survive and being ignored by the flow of humans passing by…

Luckily, Nepal is not only that. Thanks to Sujan, Anita, and the little crew of kids for which they play the role of parents, I discover a humane Nepal, a humane world. Despite the surrounding misery, there are men and women that sacrifice their life for a (little bit) better world. Of course, eight kids in an orphanage don’t mean much when we consider the number of orphans in this country. But they do what they can, change the world the way they can, a little bit. Maybe one day this little bit will grow and become much, much bigger. And I have for these people a huge respect.

Life in a Nepalese orphanage

Respect; I also had quite a lot of it when facing the titans of rock and ice of the Himalayas. A three hundred kilometres trek taught me where my place is on this planet, insignificant human being among the divine powers of a dominating nature. That was such a great feeling!

Cloud covered valley during Annapurna trek in Nepal

I had to continue on this path: me, on my feet, and the nature all around me, powerful and invincible. For the autumn, I went back to my first love, Norway, on Lofoten islands, ready to face the wrath of the elements. With a backpack and a tent, proud of my past Himalayan experience, I came, I saw, … and almost ran away. Three weeks of constant rain and storms almost finished off my ambitions but the surprising arrival of both a life-saving snow and promising arctic lights span the wheel.

Night Camping over Reine, Lofoten, Norway

This demanding experience pushed me to a meditative adventure on a tiny island off the coasts of Vesterålen. From the top of a hundred years old lighthouse I have contemplated the now small and harmless Lofoten, hypnotised by the blue lights of the settling Arctic winter. A new desire took shape in this glass tower, a desire to leave once more my beloved nordic grounds to join a wild nomadic horsewoman with black hair and golden skin known as Mongolia.

View from a lighthouse in Arctic NorwayI have experienced quite a few nights under a felt shelter while temperature plummeted below –30°C or even –40°C. Bathed in the smell of boiled meat and its progeny still too weak to join the sheep pen, I have learnt life in its simplicity — it’s never too late. The litres of milk tea I ingurgitated were like ambrosia and time stretched. I was rubbing shoulders with the gods during pastoral peregrinations from hills upon which one couldn’t see any trace of humanity — apart from these damned planes that were crossing the sky and breaking the wintery peace of the steppe.

A yurt by night in Mongolia

I have come back in a pathetic shape after each adventure, but I couldn’t stop. I have become an addict, and traveling was my opium. But in order to get something for my satisfaction, I needed money, and I just had enough for one last dose. The ultimate shoot. I decided to spend my last pennies in order to present to my partner my second mistress, the Himalaya. And then we left to the high altitude desert of Ladakh, le little Tibet of India. However, this trip had to end up suddenly

End of the day over Ladakhi mountains, Himalaya, India

What will become of this blog now this adventure is over? I think about it and I am currently growing up a few ideas. This human adventure ends up but THE Adventure goes on! So I wanted to thank you all for the support during these two years and I hope to see you soon on the blog again!

Comments

  • 09/12/2014
    reply

    Very nice journey it must have been! It yielded some incredible imagery, but I think the experience is what really counts. We apparently share love for the same places. So I truly wonder what’s next for you, Julien. Keep my fingers crossed!

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