Photos and poetry from the most remote, wild, and committed travel experience yet.
Three weeks. 5,000 kilometers. Traveling overland across the entire length of Tibet. For the better half of August, I was fortunate to join a trip of 18 professionals, artists, spiritual leaders and explorers from five countries, guided by author, adventurer and art historian Ian Baker (The Heart of the World) into Central and Western Tibet.
I decided on this expedition for several reasons, but mostly to participate in and study the famous circumambulation of Mt. Kailash, considered by over a billion people to be the most sacred mountain on the planet.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Buddhist, Hindu, Bon, and Jain pilgrims make the demanding trip to Mt. Kailash to walk 30+ miles clockwise around the base of this 23,000ft Himalayan giant. For four days, we made the circumambulation around the mountain, then spent the remaining days exploring ancient Buddhist cave kingdoms, hot springs, and Everest Base Camp.
I am currently in the beginning phases of a book project // thesis idea on exploring this particular form of ritual and its relationship with the natural world, and this was the first research stop for the project. Here are some of the better images captured during my time there, along with a short poem, “Kailash,” at the end. More words coming. Lots of stories. The sheer magnitude of the land and the people and the heart of Tibet aren’t adequately represented in photo. I tried.
This might be one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. So humbled and proud to finally share with you our short film, “The Crossing,” a 21-minute documentary about a protest I helped organize against open-pit gold mining in Baja, Mexico. Directing this film was so beautiful and difficult and time-consuming and…deeply fulfilling. The biggest ups to Mike and Alex (and Zoe!) at Ë Media. You took kindling and made a bonfire. So, here it is. I give to you, “The Crossing.” This will be only available for one month, as we will take it down at the end of August to submit to film festivals. Please watch when you have space, then share share share it with the world; I fiercely believe the planet needs more stories like these. Dedicated to all that remains untamed and free.
“The Crossing” © 2014 from Michael Hanich on Vimeo.
Words and photos from the past few weeks of visitations by good friends, talks and thoughts and travels through Wyoming wilds. Tetons + Yellowstone + Big Horns. Summer.
I SAIL IT
I sail it
A boat to travel;
Or dive deep?
I follow it
A path to meander afoot;
Through soft and tough,
Tangled bramble and view-sight-awe.
I scratch it
A wound to bleed;
On me on others on everything,
Purple scars stick around.
I hear it
A coyote to rise at dawn;
Snout-snot pointing at melting starscape,
Liberated yelp begs Moon to stay.
I browse it
A library to know to penetrate;
Ribbed rows of prose and bones,
Stillness and headphones and butterfly-catchers.
I find it
A key to unlock;
Shadowed cellar-box dusty and stale,
Only to discover another key.
I love it
A world to rest here-now-naked-alive;
Gifts of perceptual song,
Bubbling up from chambered mystery
Too grand for us, but of us.
Following a month of travel and visiting family and friends in California and Oregon, I met up with artist-beat-writer-poet-friend Trevien Stanger in Washington for a circumnavigation of the Olympic National Park. From coastal camping to running through the rainforest, this place sings songs, and we spent a few days joining in. Photos + quotes from Elizabeth Kolbert’s highly anticipated new book I just finished, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Haunting and illuminating. (Spoiler Alert: We’re in it and we’re causing it.)
“What history reveals, in its ups and downs, is that life is extremely resilient but not infinitely so. There have been very long uneventful stretches and very, very occasionally ‘revolutions on the surface of the earth’…To the extent that we can identify the causes of these revolutions, they’re highly varied: glaciation in the case of the end-Ordovician extinction, global warming and changes in the ocean chemistry at the end of the Permian, an asteroid impact in the final seconds of the Cretaceous. The current extinction has its own novel cause: not an asteroid or a massive volcanic eruption but ‘one weedy species.’ As Walter Alvarez put it to me: ‘We’re seeing right now that a mass extinction can be caused by human beings.'”
After touring last summer with The Postal Service, I was excited to go work with Death Cab for Cutie this summer as they played a handful of shows on the East Coast. My responsibilities included: Photographer, Trail Running Coordinator + Coach, and Personal Assistant to the Production Team. So intense. So much fun. This band and crew are some of the most talented, most professional, and kindest people I’ve ever met. Some photos.
This spring I coordinated Wild Mercy, a weekly environmental writing event in Missoula, MT, where prominent authors and upcoming graduate students read their works to large crowds in a fire-lit studio. It was one of the more powerful expressions of community and creativity that I’ve been a part of for some time. Here’s an article + photos I wrote for the UM FLAT and Environmental Studies Department homepage about the necessity for storytelling during these challenging ecological times.
When the world frays at the edges, we must tell our stories. When things crumble, we must sit closer—closer to the fire, closer to each other. And we must tell stories, of all types. Stories of loss. Stories of gain. Stories of being confused in a confusing world. Through confusions expressed, we discover clarity, a little clearing in the chaos. Through both telling stories and listening to them, we begin to trace some common, umbilical attachment that binds us all together. To be drawn into a story is to follow this thread of another and realize that, in some strange way, it’s also our own.
Since 2003, the Wild Mercy Reading Series, sponsored by the EVST Department, Camas Magazine and UM FLAT, has highlighted some of the finest writers and student voices in Missoula’s burgeoning environmental writing scene. Over the past few years, the UM FLAT has hosted these readings in our studio. For eight consecutive weeks this spring, two writers got up in front of a crowd of 30-60 people to read their work—stories, poetry, and music.
Calling all creatives, all revolutionaries, all architects of a new, more sustainable, resilient and authentic future. Please take a minute to watch our new video teaser and consider supporting this project. After the first two days of its launch, we have already fundraised a 1/4 of our goal. Share with your worlds, and please join us in celebrating and defending wild spaces.