Photo Of The Day: Pyrenees

This photo from a trip through the Pyrenees is making me eager to plan my next trip. The idea of backpacking through the mountains, specifically these mountains, and seeing views like this appeals to me. Christoph Sahle is a photographer and physicist based in Helsinki, Finland. You can check out a collection of his photos here and live vicariously through him in viewing them. Wish your photo was on Gadling for Photo Of The Day? No problem! Just upload it to the Gadling Flickr Pool and we’ll take a look when we get the chance.

[Photo credit: Christoph Sahle]

Video: Canyoning in the Pyrenees, Spain

Thrill seekers will love the unique and adventurous sport of canyoning. This activity, which involves traversing throughout a canyon, combines different techniques within the experience, including hiking, swimming, abseiling, scrambling, climbing, and more. The ideal canyons used for canyoning often include narrow gorges, flowing water, and various drops that must be navigated.

Want to see for yourself what canyoning looks like from the point of view of the adventurer? Check out this video:

The Way: Martin Sheen treks the Camino de Santiago

I’m often skeptical when Hollywood forays into the realm of ‘travel films’.

Don’t get me wrong; there have been some wonderful movies in recent years that capture the true essence of the world of travel & the beauty of venturing on a grand journey: Lost in Translation, Into the Wild, L’Auberge Espagnole, Before Sunrise, Up in the Air, and The Beach (did you really think I wouldn’t mention it?) are just a few examples of travel narratives done right.

But those successes aren’t enough to stop the certain feeling of dread I get whenever I learn that Hollywood has again attempted to tackle the travel theme. Perhaps certain blasphemies like Sex & the City 2 or the recent rendition of Gulliver’s Travels keep this fear alive every time I shell out $11 to go on a two-hour cinematic adventure.

That being so, when I first heard about The Way; a film directed and developed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen, I expected the worst. An adventure film produced on the magical wings of nepotism? Sounded like the perfect storm.

But Wednesday night’s New York City premiere in partnership with the Walkabout Foundation promised a dazzling list of A-listers (Former President Bill Clinton, Ivanka Trump, Dhani Jones, Wyclef Jean, & the Sheens, among others) and promised to benefit a good cause, so I packed my cynicism away for a few hours and decided to see the film.


So, is it worth the trek to the theater? Click on through to find out.

The Way is the story of a Tom (Martin Sheen), a father that loses his intrepid son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez) as Daniel sets out in the French Pyrenees on a solo journey along the historic Camino De Santiago. Devastated by the loss and desperate for a way to reconcile their distanced relationship, Sheen’s character decides to embark on the Camino himself, carrying his son’s ashes every step of the way.

In brief, the Camino De Santiago (or the Way of St. James) is a 500-mile trail that starts in France and ends near the Northwest tip of Spain. It was first trekked in the 9th Century by pilgrims hoping to visit the remains of the Apostle St. James upon their initial discovery. In the early days, it was an arduous undertaking; weather, meager provisions, and difficult terrain all took their toll on the dedicated peregrinos. But by the 14th Century, it’s estimated that 25% of all Europeans walked the Camino and today, over 200,000 hikers complete the pilgrimage every year; for many different reasons.

Through Tom’s journey and the friends he makes on the trail, a very poignant illustration of the Camino De Santiago is presented; the beauty of the environment is vivid, the community among pilgrims is familiar to anyone that’s bonded with strangers on the road, and over the course of the film, the mood of sun drenched afternoons walking, eating, and drinking through the Spanish countryside is tangible. The characters all feel genuine and there’s enough clever humor throughout to make the film a fun adventure to be a part of.

One of the best parts of the film is that the story feels real; from a traveler’s perspective, it’s relatable and stays true to its roots of telling the story of the Camino. It strays from the typical over-dramatized treatment that Hollywood loves and instead tells a very real story that will resonate with many people who have trekked the Camino & anyone that’s ever ventured on a journey to cope with a personal battle. For this reason, I think it joins some of the other great travel narratives as a movie that’s definitely worth seeing for those interested in adventure.

The Way succeeds in staying true as a travel story partially because of how it was produced; Estevez insisted that the crew was never larger than 50 people (including actors), a large part of the film was shot on the go using a versatile Super 16mm setup, and the actors actually hiked a good portion of the Camino throughout the course of production.

In all, I give The Way 4 out of 5 St. James’s Shells. It opens for a limited release in theaters today and a wide release on October 21st. So long as you don’t have to make a pilgrimage of your own to go see it, give The Way a second look this weekend.

Photo of the day: Pyrenees camping

Camping in the Pyrenees Mountains. Backpacking in the Pyrenees Mountains. This image transports you there. It shows you what it’s like to tuck yourself and your tent into a valley and to wake up there in the mist in the morning. It’s beautiful.

The Pyrenees Mountain Range is in southwest Europe. The mountains form a natural border between France and Spain. The small country of Andorra is also witness to these beautiful mountains. The Pyrenees are popular for winter sports, but plenty of people flock to them during warmer months, as well. Photographer Christoph Sahle spent part of his summer a couple of years ago exploring the mountain range on foot, with his tent and camera in tow. His photos from this trip can be found on his Flickr and they’re breathtaking. I’d love to visit these mountains.

Have you visited the Pyrenees? What was your experience like?

And, as always, if you’d like to submit a photo to us for our Photo of The Day, just upload it to the Gadling Flickr Pool.

Expedition school preps potential explorers

Are you an adventurous traveler who has ambitions of exploring the world, but you just aren’t sure how to put the unique expedition of your dreams together? If so, then perhaps Mark Kalch’s Expedition School is for you. This 3-day event is designed to give budding explorers all the skills they’ll need to embark on their own solo expedition, no matter what that adventure might be.

The Expedition School will take place August 20th-22nd in the Pyrenees of the south of France, near Bordeaux. The area is the perfect base of operations for the program due to the close proximity of mountains, forests, and rivers that will serve as the weekend’s adventure playground, where attendees will learn whitewater rafting, mountain trekking, and other outdoor skills.

Students at the Expedition School will also learn how to select the proper equipment for their journey, write sponsorship proposal letters, and more. There will be classes on how to document their adventure through the use of photography and video, as well as how to approach the logistics of planning and preparing for an extended expedition into remote places. Attendees will have the opportunity to share ideas and discuss their plans, while working in a team environment designed to simulate the dynamics of an expedition, including packing the van, sorting through the gear, and so on.

Explorer Mark Kalch has plenty of lessons to pass on to his students, most of which he learned on expeditions of his own. Back in 2007 and 2008, Kalch spent several months traveling the length of the Amazon River, from source to sea, across Peru and Brazil, and he recently completed a solo trek north to south across all of Iran.

Kalch is happy to impart his wisdom on potential explorers who attend his Expedition School for just £295 (about $440) for those who don’t mind camping, while the price jumps to £365 ($550) for a shared room. Seems like a small price to pay for the opportunity to network with other adventurers and learn some important skills that could make your expedition a reality.

[Photo credit: Mark Kalch]