Rachel strictly believes in all the words she uses to describe herself. She is an adventurer, an enthusiast, a rock climber and a responsible traveler. An adherent of veganism, Rachel has faced many threats while traveling solo but she never budged from her decisions. She is an inspiration for all women solo travelers out there, one who believes in the philosophy of travel and has allowed it to shape her and mold her fears into her strengths.
Today we have with us Rachel, a hiker, climber and photographer. Check out her amazing video on trekking Castle Rock. So Rachel, tell us about your journey so far, before we move on to Castle Rock!
Bit of a big question for 280 characters! In a nutshell, I spend a lot of my time exploring the UK, as it has so many mountains and beaut views in such a tiny space. I'm happiest when climbing and taking photos, better when I can combine the two.
Being a photographer myself, I have often found myself torn between photography and experiencing a place while embracing it fully. How do you find discovering a place behind the lens and without the lens completely? Could I explain it properly?
I think photography only adds to the experience of being out, as you see things differently and, sometimes, in a more focused way when you're taking photos. You notice the light, you find compositions - I think as long as you do put the camera down a bit, you're still truly experiencing a place. Saying that, though, climbing and photographing can be really hard. There's the worry of breaking the camera (if I fall and land on my rucksack with it in) and also it adds a lot of extra weight which isn't what you want when you're climbing long routes. So sometimes I leave the camera and switch to my phone! Which is sad because the views from a mountainside are usually the most beautiful. I think I'll eventually invest in another smaller, lighter DSLR for trad climbing days.
Well, I can totally relate to this! I like playing instruments. And whenever I go hiking, I carry it along even if it weighs down on me. I like to think of them as inanimate friends...but try buying a mirror-less one! They are lighter.
Yeah I'm for sure thinking mirrorless! I'm a fan of Canon but I may be tempted to try out a smaller Sony for adventures!
The Fuji X Series is gaining much score nowadays as well. Its colors are just rad! And they don't get tweeked on their own...Sony is way too costly and so are the lenses!
Yes, my friend just swapped his WHOLE setup to @FujifilmX_UK just before a trip to Everest! A bit brave to go to a completely new brand but his photos are looking amazing.
Talking about photography, does this passion fuel travel for you or is it the other way round? When did the travel bug bite you?
I've always been keen on photography, but never had a good camera or been super good at it. I think I've always been adventurous and travelled alone, but now photography has become a larger part of my life I am more inspired to go outside and explore.
I think you are really good at it! Your compositions are great (my opinion completely)! I have come to realize that once we get into the habit of seeing things through a lens, perspectives shift. Do you agree it's a sum of all of this that goes into making human beings?
Oh, thanks that's really lovely to hear. I'm really excited to work on some future projects that really merge portrait and landscape photography - which is hard work but what I love the most If you mean whether we're having a huge social shift because of photography/ social media..? then yes. And not necessarily for the better, though. I am very cautious with my own social media to really be honest with experiences - including the bad and the difficult.
I saw the Castle Rock video where you switched to the iphone (perhaps). In another blog you mentioned 'The sun dipped lower and lower. I fell, again and again. And then, I just… got it.' How do you define the moment you climbed what you felt impossible?
Switching to phone is something I've started to do but I don't really enjoy using my phone for videography and photography. It's so good to make it to the top of a climb you never thought you had the strength to do! It's always a milestone when you push past a mental barrier.
How do you deem learning from nature? Or if we rephrase it, how do you define humans' relationship with nature? Has it changed a lot from what it should have been? Being a traveler, how do you look at it?
It's hard to define that as a whole. I am in a very privileged person: my position in society is that I take more from nature than I give, which is why I do try to live as sustainably as I can. I do get very sad the way that we are destroying the natural world. Here in the UK we are seeing the effects of climate change only the tiniest bit, yet we are a huge part of the problem. I love nature and feel a responsibility towards the earth, but it's such a collective effort. I'm hugely saddened I can't get down to @ExtinctionR this month. I think it's very easy to become an 'outdoors' person but have no real understanding of what it will take to take care of the outdoors - cutting down on meat, driving less, cutting out plastic etc - these are all things we all need to do now. Especially in the Western world.
Absolutely! But has neoliberalism led us into thinking that saving the environment is a duty of each individual and not changing the socio-economic conditions at large? Isn't this system designed to create wastage and not learnt how to treat it? What do you think?
Yes for sure! There's been this tiptoeing around the issue without a full comprehension of what it means. Like cutting 90% of meat consumption is NOT just Meatless Monday. It's 90%! A lot! Change starts with individuals but the onus can't just be on us. I really do believe that government intervention and regulation for big corporations should be top of the agenda. But individuals also have to be behind those kinds of laws and policy. It's a lot of change in a small amount of time. Doable, but it will have to be radical.
And yes, it takes the world a long, long time to agree on the basic tenets. I really don't understand what they argue so much about?!? It takes people 50 years to come to terms with the fact that global warming is real! Funny world! Not so funny…
Yeah, don't talk to Brits about not being able to decide basic things at the moment - Brexit going on is a huge unnecessary distraction when our government needs to be focusing on more important things. But.. there's a lot of profit in earth-detrimental practices, and in US trade deals.
It has become a ritual for May to call a new deal and for the others to reject it. Perhaps, they will continue it till the end of the world when the aliens arrive..
Yep! It's all such a terrible waste of money, time, and resources.
The UN has given us 12 years before the traditional ecosystems start breaking and the entire food chain gets disrupted! This brings us to a serious question. As a traveler, do you feel the urge to propagate a piece of knowledge from the other end of the world to where you travel?
As I have solidified in my wish to make photography my career - climbing and adventure being a huge part of it - I have realised I want more than just that. So yes, I want to spend the next however many years of my life documenting climate change, animal cruelty, and issues. Issues that are urgent and need showing to people in the right way. I'm still trying to figure out what the right way for me, is.
Wow! A great initiative! Cheers, Captain! Life is simply remembering. Death is being forgotten. Tell me, how do you fuse art, life and travel in your philosophy? Can you recall a moment when after coming back from a place you were never the same person you were before?
I feel that I'm always trying to fuse those three together, sometimes it works but most of the time it can fall flat, but that's the point of finding your feet in something new to you. And about coming back a different person. I've travelled a lot - I've been attacked more than once, seen death, human and non-human animal suffering, as well as beauty, stillness, and adventure. I've never had a 'life-changing' trip but each experience has changed me a little.
Could you narrate a bit on the attacks and how that made you grow? If I am not probing too deep, do you deem witnessing suffering a duty of a traveler?
I was dragged down a beach and, a few days later, lunged at with a knife by a gang. I was lucky and escaped both times, but it made me more wary as a solo female traveler and more respectful of my own boundaries and strength. I do not believe witnessing suffering is a duty..but more so something you have to understand you could encounter. But, then again, this could happen walking around your hometown, too. It's just life, not necessarily traveling.
Woah! My friendly rightly said, 'There are no good men. There are only better men!' Despite the hardships, you maintain in your blog the worth of a solo trip! It seems like a conclusion you came to after a whole lot of experiences. Share a bit of them?
There are bad people everywhere. Different cultures have a part to play but I've had bad experiences with men in the UK as well as abroad. I think despite this, it's so important for women, if they want to, to maintain independence & travel solo! But it's important to be wary.
Were you always a vegan adventurer? Or did traveling help you become one? Could you narrate the experience/s which led you to become a vegan adventurer?
Oh, good question. My adventurous spark was always there, way before veganism was. Veganism really was spurred by a need to respect and care for animals, the environment was secondary back all those years ago. Now both issues entwine and are as important as one another.
What an enlightening conversation it was, Rachel! I enjoyed the time knowing you and talking about issues which matter to all of us. Warm wishes for you future travel endeavors. Much love!
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