barefoot travellers

Travel should never be comfortable. If you’re comfortable, you aren’t challenging yourself. If you’re comfortable, you’re missing the point. Get outside your comfort zone, find your limits, and learn who you really are.
—  James Smorthwaite - Backpacker Photography©
All you have to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!
—  Tony Wheeler (Co-Founder of Lonely Planet Travel Guides)
I'm the kind of Witch

That rushes into spells and modifies them to my budget

Makes spells on the spot

Walks barefoot EVERYWHERE

Carries my travel altar, a handful of charms, and my tarot deck everywhere

Doesn’t do anything witchy for a week and then dedicates the weekend to intense magickal work

Spends spare change on incense

Spends paycheck on crystals and books


Hordes jars

Buys packets of seeds every time I’m at the store

Talks to the trees and the wind and the water

Talks to her house plants

Dances to thank the gods and spirits

Has casual conversations with the gods and spirits

Constantly tries to validate myself and my practice even though I know I’m doing right by me because I’m happy

Meditates every other day

Kisses her tools to thank them

20,000 Followers!

After being featured on Tumblr Radar and Trending, Backpacker Photography has gone from 10,000 to 20,000 followers in the space of 2 days!

Thank you all so much for supporting this blog and enjoying these photos. I hope it can inspire you to pick up a backpack, get out there and see some of this amazing planet and its people…

Keep exploring!

James

James' Most Moving Travel Memories - Sunset On Mt. Everest

    Towards the end of my travels in 2009, I was passing through Tibet on my way to Nepal. I had 6 months of rough travel behind me, backpacking through the islands of Indo, the jungles of South East Asia and the plains of China before rising up onto the dry Tibetan Plateau.
    My route had taken in 8 countries, numerous cultures and a myriad of different sights and experiences, all of which had left their mark on me. I felt like a thoroughly changed man, at one with new cultures, and home was far from my mind. I was entirely immersed in the traveller’s life. I had latched onto a group of travellers and we were in a beaten up old 4x4, driving across the Tibetan landscape for a week before we neared the trail to Everest Basecamp, the final stop before we crossed the Himalayan border into Nepal.

(Crossing Tibet)

    The drive up to basecamp was a zigzag slog up rocky hills for hours on end. I watched the sun dip low in the sky as we climbed the scree mountainside before finally popping up over the crest of a hill and entering the mouth of a valley with a little stream running down its dusty centre.

(The climb up to basecamp)

    We followed this stream (its source being the glaciers on Everest) towards a small huddle of tents in the distance, Everest’s North Face basecamp. Beyond these tents the valley continued higher and higher, with its far end cloaked in low clouds.

(Clouds concealing the mountain)

    Upon arrival at basecamp, we dropped our backpacks in a spacious cloth tent that we rented for the night. The sun was dropping below the tops of the mountains at this point, bathing them in a deep orange glow while the valley floor grew cold and dark in the shade of the mountains on either side.

  
(The dying sun on the surrounding mountains)   

    The clouds had still not cleared, so we warmed our feet by the yak dung stove and drank cups of salty yak butter tea with the owner of our tent, a young, rosy cheeked Tibetan lady with a baby strapped on her back.

(The inside of our tent at basecamp)

    After one too many cups of tea, I had to step out of the tent to take a piss, and that’s when I saw Mt. Everest for the first time.

    The clouds at the end of the valley were drawing back, cleared away as if some unseen hand was tearing them away like pieces of cotton wool. The north face of the mountain was sheer and craggy, a patchwork of dark and imposing rock, and brilliant pearl white ice, rising high up into the inky sky. The last rays of the sun were already fading, but held enough power to light the mountain in orange and gold.

(Sunset on the highest point in the world)

    It was magnificent, words truly don’t do it justice. The air was still and icy cold, and there was no sound. Only the crunch of gravel as I sat down outside the tent served to break that still silence, the kind of silence you only get at altitudes so high that there is nothing living to make a sound. In this moment I suddenly missed my home. I missed my girlfriend, who I had not been entirely faithful to on my travels, I wished she could have been there with me to experience that awe. I was humbled by it all, finding it difficult to bear the weight of all that emotion by myself. I needed someone to share it with me. I just sat there and watched as the colours on the face of that great mountain changed from gold to orange to purple, until the first cold stars started twinkling in the indigo sky above. As the sun’s light finally died, the mountain looked cold and ghostly under the light of the newly risen moon. The sky filled with stars and the Milky Way painted a glittering stripe over the tip of the dark mountain’s silhouette. I sat there well into the night and watched as the stars turned in the sky above that immovable, looming mountain top.

(The view up the valley from basecamp the next morning)

    So began a love affair with Mt. Everest and the Himalayas in general, that has seen me visit Everest’s South face in the years since. However that first unveiling, when the clouds cleared in a valley in Tibet, remains one of the most moving moments of my life. I know I’ll return there one day.

My Fucking Feelings. 9/12/16

I look at this picture and see that I have aged. The white in my hair, wrinkles in my face, angles softened by years of wind. Coffee no longer taste the same. I used to think it was clever to say the picket fence has splinters. But not having a worn welcome mat at 43 stings. On one hand, I have the kind of freedom teenagers run away for. On the other, a piercing loneliness of someone who travels barefoot.

The container of life is made of hard plastic. I’ve tried chewing through. You can’t. You must adapt. Life will not. Time is unforgiving. Money is slippery. Women are still confusing. And the past will always haunt you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve looked under the bed. Memories don’t come without feelings. But as the white on your teeth fades, so does your fear. I guess that’s the good news. The bright panic has become a dull
flicker and the things that were big don’t really matter. So you live sky and soil. Dreams and moments.

And not focusing on everything in between means you can finally breathe. And with breath comes the here and now, moments and the ability to see beauty in a blade of grass. And maybe that’s what this is all about. Maybe this is what the return looks like.