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.
Circling the massif,
A headful of dervishing dakinis
Pull me into dance as wind patterns do.
And the mountain stares, perplexed
At how difficult we’ve, I’ve, you’ve made things.
Yak grazes timid vegetation
Fluttering, flailing, failing
Like feathered topsoil,
Crushed into unforgiving earth by
Endless footprints seeking.
To orbit Mystery afoot
Is to court something beyond us,
Yet inhabit a reverence to something
This blade of rock and ice and symmetry
Slices through millions of years
I arrive a bundle of
Kailash she breathes.
She quells a deep parch
With her rootedness,
I leave humbled and fully allegiant
To her fierce solitude,
Her soft invitation to see my own
Reflection in her
There she is.
There we are.
Wild wind prayer.