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Ian Finch (EXPLORER)

Former Royal Marine Commando Ian Finch is an adventure and outdoor brand photographer & expedition guide whose been travelling to remote environments for over 10 years. Ian’s desire to record, capture or lead expeditions in unfamiliar corners of the globe is driven by a passion to learn about heritage and traditions from the native cultures that call it home.

On today’s podcast, we are talking about his 1,300-mile journey to retrace the footsteps of the Cherokee people called the “Trail of Tears”

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Transcript of our Conversation

Ian Finch

[00:00:00] Ian Finch: Hello, and welcome to the modern adventurer podcast. If you haven’t already subscribed to the show and hit the like button, because we have some incredible stories to tell on this channel coming up, the, the journey that they took was it, they were forced to take this journey because of the Western expansion across America.

And they were forced to relocate from their homes in the great smoky mountains, which is where the Cherokee were traditionally based. And they were forced to walk. I think it was 1,301, 1,200 miles into Oklahoma, which was classed as Indian territory at that point. Now it’s modern day, Oklahoma, so they were forced with other four other tribes.

That would w were on the Eastern side of the U S they’re all forced at that point to walk all that distance in mid-winter. And to end up in Oklahoma and this, this story because of the, the tragedy of the story for the Cherokee people, because so many of them died on this route was called Dan called [00:01:00] the trail of tears.

On today’s show we have in Finch and adventure, photographer and Explorer, who has covered a wide range of expeditions over the years from canoeing RPA in the wilderness of Scotland to following the trails of the Cherokee people. He has some incredible story to tell. And on today’s podcast, we are going into detail about one or two of these stories.

So I am delighted to introduce in Finch to the show. Hey, how are you doing very well? Well, for people listening in, I had the pleasure of meeting about three weeks ago for a photo shoot with Musto and Ian has some pretty incredible adventure stories to tell. And I was [00:02:00] delighted to get him on, but before we sort of jumped into it, Ian, I suppose probably the best place to start is with you and about yourself.

Yeah. So first and foremost, I’m a photographer, so adventure photographer and I worked with outdoor brands to help them sort of like create a lot, really strong visual narratives for upcoming shoots. And also, I, I I’m an expedition leader, so I’ve, I’ve. Conducted sort of some pretty, sort of big meaningful expeditions in, in some wild places, all over the, all over the globe.

And then I come back and I’m really passionate about telling those stories and help inspire people to sort of find their own adventure and, and undertake their own big, big journeys. So how did, what do you think caused you to go into this sort of fear? Because I know you were. Former Royal Marines.

Do you think that training and that background sort of set you on [00:03:00] this path? I think the military, every aspect of my life, you know, looking back on it, the things that I took from that now are more the mindset principles of, of that you need and utilize when you’re on expeditions about like dealing with cold weather routines like positive habits dealing with challenge and setbacks and failure, or having to, you know, push forward physically in sort of arduous, arduous times.

Those are the things I look back and think that’s what I took from, from my career in the Marines or the practical stuff. Yeah. You do take certain aspects of that and bring that forward. But those real practical skills fade the mental ones and the, and the sort of the ones that you really absorb into your character, the ones that you you take forward without a doubt.

How long were you in the Royal Marines for. So it was close to about five years in the end. So I left in 2008, which is quite a long time ago now. And so you’ve [00:04:00] been on a sort of quest for big, big grand adventures ever since. Yeah. Yeah, it was when I left the call and even before that, I was always wild campaign going to Scotland and Wales Lake district and wild camping all over the place with friends and that kind of stuff.

But when it, when I came out of the Marines That continued because I’ve always had this deep love of nature and wildness and wildlife and all of those kinds of things. So it didn’t the expedition stuff didn’t really take hold. Until I did sort of mounting leader training and then I was doing sort of slightly longer journeys.

And then I would go to the Hebrides and I, I walked the length of the outer Hebrides, which was my first long distance kind of walk. As such. And then I found, I really wanted when the photography and that really became a big part of my life. I started to really think about narrative and the journeys I was taking on.

I wanted them to be bigger and longer and have a [00:05:00] much stronger narrative where I could really immerse myself in a story or a story and a group of people or a landscape or an environmental story. And as I really sort of cultivated the desire to photograph and writes about the journeys that I was on, I was then looking for bigger, more stronger stories, which then led to the bigger journeys.

So yeah, it was, it was quite an organic process to lead into the route, the real big expeditions that It’s now I couldn’t, I couldn’t imagine my life without them to be honest. Well, let’s jump into them. Say your, one of your journeys was in the Yukon. The sheriff, sorry, the Sharroky trail. What was that about?

What was the sort of aims of that trip? It was actually the idea of my expedition partner, Jamie bonds, and. Previous previously to that a few years before that I had descended the Yukon river by canoe where the narrative of that story was to meet. And [00:06:00] some of the, the many native groups that lived along that river.

So my, a lot of my expeditions revolve around. Learning meeting native groups in a certain region that Marine and then learning about traditions and heritage and stuff like that. And environmental aspects of, of their life, their modern life. So the Cherokee journey was based around a route that the Cherokee people were forced to take in 1838.

And. They that the, the sort of the in, in sort of embrace the, the journey that they took was it, they were forced to take this journey because of the Western expansion across America. And they were forced to relocate from their homes in the great smoky mountains, which is where the Cherokee were traditionally based.

And they were forced to walk. I think it was 1,301, 1,200 miles into Oklahoma, which was classed as Indian territory at that point. And now it’s modern day, Oklahoma. So they were forced with other four other [00:07:00] tribes. That would w were on the Eastern side of the U S they’re all forced at that point to walk all that distance in mid-winter.

And to end up in Oklahoma and this, this story because of the, the tragedy of the story for the Cherokee people, because so many of them died on this route was called then called the trail of tears, or as it was the Cherokee called it, the trail where they cried. And this is because yeah, lots of people died on that trail.

It’s a very sacred trail to the Cherokee even to this day. And we thought it would be very interesting to. ReWalk this trail and follow cause there was many aspects to this trail. So some Cherokee was split up into many detachments. So the army, the American army at this point split up and, and moved.

So in aspects of the Cherokee by river, by land and all this kind of thing. So we incorporated many different aspects of many different routes of the same trail of tears. [00:08:00] So that took us about to us about three months where we, we crossed the mountain range. We paddled cause so we canoed. 900 miles.

And then we walked another 400 miles the end of the trip. And we ended up in Oklahoma at the Cherokee heritage center, which is where all Cherokee artifacts, cats, or the, the Cherokee baskets. Lots of beautiful Cherokee tradition is kept in this museum. So we actually finished the trail. I’m actually finished.

The trial walking with Cherokee people. So this was all pre-organized and we made first make connections with the Cherokee. By the Cherokee nation, which is the kind of government body for the Cherokee nation itself. And we asked permission to do the trail cause obviously a very sacred trail. And there’s obviously some sensitivity towards two white guys from Europe during the trail.

So we asked permission and then we were granted that and. It was [00:09:00] our sort of aim to tell a really authentic representation of the trail as we went. So it was actually quite difficult to do that because there was massive periods where we, we weren’t we were, we’re going from one section to another, to another.

So what we decided to do was complete the whole journey and then spend a week with the Cherokee or a number of Cherokee people and live and live with them. In, in Oklahoma. And then really loud about the story, visit some historical sites look at all manner of Cherokee culture more than sort of traditional and yeah, and that, that featured when we, when we wrote that photograph, that that featured in the sidetrack magazine is one of their biggest stories, a 20 page story.

Wow. How did the sh Sharrocky people sort of take to this story? A lot of the, when we arrived into Oklahoma [00:10:00] and we were, we were telling people that we were doing this because a lot of the time we weren’t saying anything per se. So we, we would, if we were, we were stopping off along the way and speaking to random people or staying with random people, we would tell them this story and why we’re doing it, but we kind of kept it quite simple.

So once we got into Oklahoma, a lot, the questions. That came up for why, why are two white guys doing this? And understandably, that question was quite important for us to ask. So we, we both very much interested in native American tradition and heritage and, and I’ve come from a background where my dad was very much interested in that and still is interested in that.

So I’ve kind of absorbed that from him. So we just told them that we felt it’s a story that people in the UK haven’t heard. It’s a story that still needs to be heard. And we felt it’s just really important that stories like this are remembered and continue to be [00:11:00] remembered. So it went down with the Cherokee people, it went down well.

And a lot of the time people say thank you as well for making their story visible in different cultures. Amazing. And was it all plain sailing because you’re doing this in the sort of. Mid Midwinter, you said? No. So the, the original trail was in mid-winter. So when, when the Cherokee, you were forced to walk a walk them through it, it was in 1838, the winter of that year.

We did it in summer. Well, not in summer, but we started in the great smoky mountains in March. And that was, you know, that was going down to minus six minus eight in the mountains for that first week. So that was, that was. Pretty cold, but then it went from eight point to my but we also paddled, we the sec, the 900 miles of Canadian, which was on the Tennessee river, they are high on the Mississippi.

It was actually through kind of tornado season. So [00:12:00] it was pretty treacherous. To be canoeing. And also prior to that period on the water, they had had the worst weather in 20 years in terms of rainfall in not only in the regions where the main part of the river was, but at the source as well. So all of the rivers were flooded.

And all of the rivers had reached into the forests that were on the banks. So a lot of the time we were actually paddling through forests. We’re paddling through, well, Paul’s. All sorts of crazy stuff because the hydrology of the river had changed because it was pushed into the forests and everything like that.

And the water was going through submerged trunks, even submerged buildings at that point. And also it’s on a couple of the sections. We because of the really extreme weather and the flooding of the rivers, we were parting past trees that were upside down in a sari houses that were upside down in trees and all of that kind of stuff, which was [00:13:00] just incredible.

Really. So it was, it. The conditions per se, weren’t too bad, but the actual in terms of like the climate conditions, but the actual on the ground, the conditions were, and on the rivers, they were, they were quite treacherous and incredibly dangerous. And there was one, one time that we actually nearly died actually probably two occasions that we nearly died on the river.

What happened? So we had, we had paddled the whole of the Tennessee river, which was a couple of hundred miles, maybe five, 600 miles. Then we, the Tennessee goats up to the Ohio and then the high Ohio meets the Mississippi. So the Mississippi. It’s still used as a super highway. So the Mississippi is apparently it’s cheaper to still move cargo and goods up the Mississippi, like the old days on these huge barges.

Now these barges are these higher powered kind of [00:14:00] steamer boats that then push these huge metal containers, which are a hundred feet long, 200 feet long, but one of these boats can push upwards of 24 containers. So all stacked in a line in front of each other. So when we got onto the Mississippi we, then I, not only did we have the added danger of the river being flooded, et cetera, et cetera.

We also had the added danger of these huge boats coming up the river and kicking off these huge wakes, which were sometimes six, eight feet high, the wakes that were on the river. So whenever we saw them we had to go pull into one of the forests, which was still flooded and tie the boat up, wait for the bar to go past, take on the swell, holding onto the trees and stuff like that.

And then paddle back out, paddle down river. And if he saw another one, it’d be exactly the same story. And this could happen 10, 20 times a day sometimes. So. When, when the bodies aren’t pushing these metal containers, the [00:15:00] containers are cats on the sides of the river. So maybe sometimes two, two abreast, and then lined up down the event and tied by these metal chains, maybe 10 feet from the shore.

And then when the barges meet them, they go to this, they go to these containers, pick them up and then move them on and fill them with grain and coal and cement, et cetera. So we found that it was actually slightly more safer. So instead of paddling out in the river where the barges were, was actually to paddle down between the containers.

So you had the, the, the, the bank on one side, and then there was a 10 foot gap. And then one of these metal containers. So we would paddle down the side of these containers and these narrow channels, then every 15 to 20 feet or every a hundred feet, maybe there would be a hundred meter gap between sets of containers.

And then there’ll be another three or four containers. And then another a hundred meter gap. And in quite a few of these. Yeah, between the containers, [00:16:00] there was an Eddie and Eddie just for people to know is a an area of water. That’s almost coming back on itself. So the water reverses because of where it’s situated on the river and the flow and et cetera, et cetera.

So we would stop in these eddies between the containers and actually have arrest. So one of these times, one of these days, the weather was really bad. So we had. Maybe like 20 mile an hour winds on the boat, on the river, which is quite bad, kicking up a massive swell. And we had about three miles to go to get to this town where we knew we had pizza, coffee shelter.

We w we were, we had the canoe on the sides of the river, and we made a decision to take on the river. With the current, which was at seven, seven knots, which is pretty fast for a river with, with wind, with a very bad storm that was coming in just to get to this town. So these are the kinds of decisions that you make, which sometimes [00:17:00] you don’t realize at the time can be actually life and death.

And you take them because, you know, you think you want. Shallots are pizza, warm bed. When really, maybe we should have stayed in a tent on the side of that kind of muddy, horrible river for, for safety. But anyway, we decided to go for it. And we were nipping down between the sides of these containers.

And there was a huge storm that was coming in to our, to our side there. And this there’s pictures of pictures of this on my Instagram, which is almost, it’s almost like a form in tornado. And we, we knew we had to get to this tone for safety and it was raining. It was too seriously torrential rain. And we poured into one of these, what we thought was an Eddy between these two massive containers.

And we were reaching down into the canoe to get the cameras out, to take a picture of this storm. And then as I looked up, I realized that we were still in the in the flow of the river. Now at this point, the Mississippi. Was meeting. It was a convergence point of th th the [00:18:00] Mississippi on the Ohio and it was on the band.

So for those that know about water and rivers and canoeing or whatever, it’s, the bend is the part fastest part of the river because the water is pushed into the band and then pushed out the band. And there was just a kind of a convergence of. All manner of problems at that point. So you had the flow, the storm, the narrow distance between the two containers.

So as I looked up, the canoe was moving side forward, sorry, nose in to one of these containers. Now these containers have their front to like that. So the water was going down and underneath these containers at a rapid speed. So I just screamed to Jamie to start paddling. And as he started coddling, I kind of turned the canoe sideways.

So we were side on the container and then we were paddling hard. So as we were paddling, we would go forwards and sideways with the flow and we just missed the front of this container was [00:19:00] having this water suck underneath it. But then as we came around the side of this container, there was a barge coming straight for us.

And at this point it was, I can only remember. The feeling of, it was like a hose pipe. And when you squeezed the hose pipe and the water being shot out at the front of a hose pipe so fast, when you squeeze it like a garden hose pipe, and we just shot between the barge and the container, like a bullet.

Cause the water was so fast and we’re getting channeled past it. And Then the swell of the barge hit us, but we, I turned the canoe into the swell and then we went over the swell and then 10 minutes later, we paddled into this tiny, tiny coastal not even coastal. It was a tiny town called Witcliff in Kentucky.

And it was, the rain was so heavy and we would just sit in there and the canoe was filling up with water and we would just [00:20:00] shake him. Because of what actually happened. So we managed to just pull ourselves together. We went into this place and said, look, we need somewhere to just chill for the night and stuff like that.

But when we got into this tiny port, which it was, which was a barge port, so barges were coming in and out there all the time. Currently all the barge people, all the people with the bards captains have been on radio saying daddy’s crazy guys in a canoe now in the storm, out on the river and to watch out for them because people have been killed that this area before.

Cause of, cause of all of the convergence of factors. And then a boat captain came in and he said, you guys are suicidal. Firstly, being on the river when it’s flooded like this, secondly. Paddling down by these containers and paddling out on the river at this point. And they, they were saying that they had seen big boats get sucked under the front of these containers and get basically crushed like a Coke can in a Coke machine.

You know, [00:21:00] those, you get those machines where they crushed Coke cans. They had seen big boats being pulled in under these and being crushed like that. So we were no doubt. We were. Probably three feet away from drown in it at any one point. And then strangely enough, something not as not similar, but something moderately similar happened the following day where we were caught out again, even though we were taken, taken care.

So looking back on that situation, it was just a, you know, you learn a lot of lessons from, from days like that to, to trust her instinct, to sometimes try not to be too brave when the weather and the conditions aren’t suitable. And also yeah, just sometimes it’s better to sit, sit and wait out rather than go, go for the warm bed.

That’s basically it say tempting. Yeah. Say tempting after a few days while [00:22:00] camping, but yeah, I mean, I was, and you went even after the captain sort of said, you guys are suicide or you went the next day. Yeah. So the following morning, the weather was beautiful. And the, the conditions, the weather was clear.

There was no wind on the river. And we sat up for hours and we were like, how the hell are we going to get out of this port? Because there was shipping ships moving in and out of it, containers moving in and out of it. And. We just decided to make a run for it when we saw a gap after that, but that then that day was then our biggest canoe day and our distance day, we can at 55 miles that day, I think 53.

So yeah, it’s you like the rough with the smooth and I think it’s all about, especially when you’re on the river. It’s what about mitigating risk? And, and, and, and looking back on it, it’s just all about safety. You know, your life is the most important thing in the world [00:23:00] and coming unsafely as most important thing in the world.

Good. And so, I suppose, even after they sort of Tory times, what sort of motivated you to sort of keep going? Was it the story to be able to tell, to tell this story, not the story of us. You know, in that situation. But what we always had to remember is in times of hardship on that river, and when we were walking and crossing the mountains in cold weather was the, the, the story of the Cherokee was, was the driving force for that whole journey.

And the people. During that time lost their homes, lost their livelihoods. They were driven from their, their, their spiritual and traditional homes. They were forced into reservations and lands that they’d never been to with at times only the belongings that they had on them. So literally only the clothing that they had on them.

So any, whenever, every times got hard, we would think back to that and think, you know, we’re here to tell a [00:24:00] story and yes, we’ve been for a couple of challenging situations, but it’s nothing compared to what they went through and still go through from a. You know, a spiritual perspective and, and cultural perspective.

So that was always in the back of our minds. And when things got bad. Yes. We had to check in and be like, okay, we need to look after ourselves on, see here and make the right decisions. But we would think back to what those people enjoyed and still enjoy. And that was our driving force to keep going.

It is quite the story. Yeah. Yeah. One of many with the canoeing, you sort of specialize quite a lot in your canoeing expeditions, you also had quite a memorable one in the Yukon. What was the sort of inspiration behind that trip? So that trip was again to learn. Me talk with the people [00:25:00] of the river. And that was kind of my initial sort of ethos I wanted.

I wanted a three month expedition. I wanted a canoe expedition. I want it to be able to photograph film, learn, discuss, sit with native people of that region, to learn about where their culture stands today. That there, whether they’re still a connection to the landscape and the wildlife, importantly, their connection to the river and how, whether they may sustain livelihoods and foods from the river.

Obviously the adventure the three month expedition of being, you know, crossing completely from one side to another of Alaska, pretty much. So it was, it was very much geared around meeting the people and learning about who, the, who the people were, their traditions and their connection to the river.

Amazing. And so was that [00:26:00] with the same crew as your Cherokee trail? No. So with, on the Cherokee journey, that was with one person that was with a guy called Jamie Barnes and not the fellow sort of photographer and adventurer. The other one that they Yukon dissent was with a team of three people.

So there’s four of us in total and we had two people from Montreal and one from Brooklyn. So we had a lady called Caroline Coty. Who’s. An unbelievable athlete and adventure and filmmaker equally incredible. Canoeist called Martin Trahan who had crossed Canada by canoe. And then a photographer called Jay Kolsch, who is an incredible photographer from Brooklyn.

And I put that team together without meeting any of them. And we met on the trip. So we’d had Skype calls, et cetera, et cetera. And we’d all talked about our kind of vision for the journey and the dream, but each person kind [00:27:00] of had that designated role. And yeah, so we filmed that trip, which is now a documentary on Amazon.

And Martin was really the, the logistics guy of understanding how we would get it out, that amount of food for three months. The logistics of canoes, the logistics of sending food on sending barrels on, et cetera, et cetera, the really sort of. Day-to-day mechanics of the journey. And then Jay was there to just capture that whole experience.

So we, obviously, none of us got paid for that trip. We, it featured a sidetrack magazine of that year, but where we got a little bit of money for writing the story in Jacobs and money for the pictures. But other than that, it was completely self-funded. Yeah. So it was a, it was a pretty international team from Canada, us UK, and it worked wonderfully.

I mean, you have [00:28:00] those, those challenges of human relationships, which you have on any trip, people that you haven’t met and you haven’t sought, or the bonded. Yeah. Over the years of friendship and relationships and understanding characteristics and drives and everything. But yeah, it was, it, it became an Epic journey that kick-started everything.

Amazing. And do you, what do you think? Because as I say, when you haven’t met them and when you sort of are literally turning up probably to meet them for the first time and on these trips, you go through quite a few hardships and struggles, which really put push people to the test. What do you think sort of makes a successful expedite?

I think that what makes us successful expedition is. Personal narrative, like the, the why is everything? So my, my narrative was to go and meet the people and paddle through some of the wildest [00:29:00] sort of terrain in sort of, you know, North America. Caroline’s was to film, you know, to film it. She had an interest in native cultures as well.

Martin was purely a canoeist. So, and Jay was the photographer and Jay wanted to really capture that. So it was all, I think the, when we go on journeys or we choose journeys, the why is a massive important. That’s part of the important part of that, because when times get tough, you get tired, you get hungry.

Like I had on the river, that the story we just discussed, you know, it’s that the why is what keeps you moving forward? Yeah. You got to check in and be like, okay, this needs to change. Or we need to adapt this, et cetera, et cetera. But the why is everything. And once you have a strong, why you will go beyond.

What needs to be done to sort of achieve, achieve that generally? Yeah. We had Georgia, Georgia on last week and he was saying that he writes down all his goals and his wife about [00:30:00] why he’s doing the trip. I mean, I always have it in my head, but by writing it down every time he always said, It comes to hardship.

He’ll look at his why and be like, this is why I want to be here. This is why I’m going through all these struggles, which I thought was a really great way of, you know, keeping, keeping a focus on the success of the expedition. Absolutely. And I think as well, it’s, you know, having accountability, having people there that are on that journey as well, that can lift you up when times of struggle and then you do the same for them.

But I think, I think everybody has an idea. Personal connection to the journey is really, really, really important. And also everybody being clear about that, their motivations and their outcome for that journey. So what do people want to get out of it? No. Do you want a, B, C, D, or E? Or do you want all of the above, you know, it’s, it’s important that you clarify those kinds of things.

If you [00:31:00] go on a journey with people that you don’t know, because sometimes wise can get crossed and people think. Something, that’s not going to be sort of coming to fruition on some of these expeditions. I always find sometimes when you go with someone and you have different goals, were there any sort of clashes of goals where they sort of what’s the word conflicted in what one wanted to achieve and what the other one wanted and they both couldn’t work together.

Yeah, I think, I think they can always. Things can always work. If you communicate that trip, the year contract in particular was my, my dream trip. My first big, big, ever three months though. And I kind of treated it like that. So it was like, Oh, we can bring a filmmaker. Fabulous. I’d love you to just catch an objective view of this trip photographer.

I’d love you to catch an objective view of the strip Martin. You can come along and help with. There was the thing is [00:32:00] I never set any really true boundaries. So it was like, yeah, we’re going on this trip and we’re doing this. We kind of know what we need to do. This is how we’re going to do it. This is where the food is going to be picking it up, you know, flying into here and flying out there.

Yeah, but I never set any boundaries with regards to decision-making or safety and these kinds of things. So in, especially on the Yukon I was not the most. The least inexperienced, but I was one of the least and experience. So Martin was the most experienced person on that trip in terms of canoeing and long distance or expedition commitment.

So I looked up to him a lot and I, I trusted him and we, we looked to him for logistical sort of knowledge and how to get things done. And he was incredible at that, but we did clash because there was certain points. Within the trip where he decisions were being made [00:33:00] based on the skillset and the ability of him and the other canoeist whereas myself and Caroline who were in a canoe.

Our sort of collective skillset wasn’t as strong. So I am a great believer in, you know, you always work to the level of the weakest person or that those with the least, you know, skill set, you know, you’re there for that person. And you help them through that situation. If you’re more, if you’ve got better skills and decisions will be made and type risks were being taken based on the stronger skillset.

And when we had conversations about that I then had to get to a point where I had to set boundaries and say, right, this is I’m going to make the decisions here. Can we communicate before any decisions are made in the future, and this is why we making those decisions. So and that caused a little bit of friction because you’ve got on the one hand, you’ve got someone who’s experienced and making decisions based on their experience.

And then you’ve got me who’s. Who’s putting the trip together and is thinking [00:34:00] erring on the outside of safety. So there’s, you’ve got to find that, that, that sort of flux point of where you’re working together and then there’s a movement within that. And that did cause some friction. But all you got to do is just communicate and be open and be honest and say, and explain why you you’re, you’re coming to this decision and why you’re making this decision.

And then things tend to work. Okay. But yeah, I’ve always said on expeditions. The the, the distance or the tiredness or the practical stuff is never the hardest. It’s the human relationships, which are the hardest and getting on with people when times are bad, cold, wet, hungry, you know? Yes. When you find out what people are really made of and how people respond to adversity.

That’s when you find what people are rarely made of. So yeah, that, that, that was the hardest part. The expedition for me was, was the human relationships. [00:35:00] I think, I think they all are. I think when you go on these trips, the human interactions and what people want are always the toughest. And if you can get that right, it usually makes for such a successful expedition.

Yeah, totally agree. And that’s that, that starts before you leave. Yeah. The people that you’re with, you know talking to them, maybe even going out on an ex, a mini expedition with them, you know, COVID permitting or whatever beforehand is, is, is really important and spending a few days with that person.

So, you know, if you’re like you’re doing At some point you were doing a paddle, you know, I’d imagine that you want to go and meet that person and paddle with them for a few days or go hiking. And while camping with that person or spending some time in nature with that person. So you can get to know them a little bit.

So then when you go, you drop straight into that journey, you know, you’ve got that foundation of understand a little bit about each other rather than doing what I did, which was just going straight off [00:36:00] the deep end and making it work. But it’s not, you know, I learned something on that trip. I learned some of that.

The best leadership skills I’ve ever learned, probably even more than the Marines by being in that, on that journey and learning how to communicate with people in terms of their value systems and stuff like that. And learning learning how to communicate in terms of putting a team together to get the job done and finish and that kind of stuff.

And with everybody in a safe, a safe way. So, yeah, I might only be advice on that would be, get to know the person a little bit before you spend a lot of time with them. Yeah, I though, as I say, your photography and film that you’ve done on some of these trips and those ones in particular are absolutely breathtaking.

Your photography. Well, as I know, from being with you and also from your Instagram and website is stunning. And for anyone who’s interested in these stories, his website in [00:37:00] finch.com tells the whole story through. Words through images through film. So you can go and check, check it out, say, and there’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being.

What’s the one item or gadget that you always bring on your expeditions. Other than a camera, which is like an extension of my body and my soul One gadget.

No, it’s the camera camera. What’s the camera without that, you know, like yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s an extension of my body and it’s something that I take everywhere with me and I’m learning to use now a little bit more not respectfully, but what’s the word? Intermittently [00:38:00] I’m learning to now when I do expeditions and I take photos, I’m learning to look more rather than take photos more, you know, there’s a time to take photos of time to not take photos. So that’s I can’t go anywhere without my camera. I agree. I think one thing I learned from one of my expeditions was especially going through all the all the images and all the photos and videos from it is actually.

Having an idea of what you want to shoot before you shoot. Otherwise you’re just shooting for the sake of shooting and being like, Oh, that looks nice. Click. That looks nice, click. And then you get back and you realize that they’re okay, but they’re not great. And actually, if you say, this is what I want to shoot, take the time, shoot it, then put the camera away and then just immerse yourself into that experience.

I think that it helps massively. Yeah, I totally agree. And I think, and I’ve spoken about this before, where [00:39:00] sometimes the camera can become a middleman, like a plane of glass between you and the experience and the desire when, when you, when you like photography, as much as I do in visual storytelling your first instinct is to take a photo.

Rather than look with your eyes and absorb that memory, et cetera. So I’ve had to learn to put the camera down or to think about Stuart. Like you’ve just pretty much where you just said that to think about story and like, does it, is this picture relevant to the story? Yeah, it could be. And then if not you just, the camera doesn’t need to be there.

It doesn’t need to be out and, and, and. Taking you away from that moment? Yeah, I think that’s, I mean, what’s it, I think it was when the poop first came to power. There’s a sort of picture of everyone holding up their iPads and you just watching the screen of what’s actually happening. Whereas if you take it away and actually just take a moment to, for where you are.

I think that memory holds a [00:40:00] bit, otherwise you’re just basically watching a TV. You might as well be at home. Yeah. And I think a good, a good practice for that is a few years ago, I did a project where I walked across the Lake district and I only had a throwaway camera as my camera. So I left my DSLR at home.

And I only had the 27 images on an old Kodak throwaway camera that you can buy like seven quid from Amazon. And that was to force me into a position where I only had 27 images to create the story for that, that, that trip. And also I had a very rudimentary camera that had no focus. I had to measure the distance that it was in focus on like the kind of focal length, et cetera.

So. Well, that taught, taught me was okay. If I come to a scene or anything, does this picture need to be taken? If it doesn’t, the camera can go away. If it does then it’s, you know, it’s a really important, beautiful picture. Cause the light’s right. And the context is [00:41:00] right. I would take the picture. So yeah, that was a nice example, you know, that kind of nice way of doing things because they’ll see I-phones and DSLRs, you’ve got unlimited imagery storage on those cards.

So. It’s nice to do that every now and again, you know? Yeah. Yeah. Very true. What camera do you have for people listening? I have a Nick on Zed seven. So I stay with, I work with Nick on which in today’s world, you know, they’re not. The best cameras out there. You’ve now got the cannon R five or the Sony, a seminar fours.

And that kind of, which are technically better cameras, but I just love the color profiles that come out of their cons. Yeah, they, yeah, I might change one day, but for the moment, yeah. What is your favorite adventure or travel book? So [00:42:00] I probably would have asked her when you say it was this one. The, the quote, because I know one of the questions you asked him about from the quote, but it’s one, it’s this one here called the North American Indian, and it’s a book by a photographer called Edward Curtis.

Curtis was a guy that spent 20 or 30 years in the early 19 hundreds using a plate camera. So like on an old tripod with plate glass, kind of exposure. And he traveled around to every tribe in North America and recorded them. In that state, in that point. So with the, I think we’re talking early 19 hundreds and it took him 30 years to do it.

And over this time he has taken the most unbelievable port traits. Step your port traits of these native Americans with their regalia on the book. It was just inspired me in so many ways because of the incredible native American portraits. It’s a book [00:43:00] my dad gave to me as well, which gives it sort of equal, you know, more important than anything.

But it’s just that the guys technical photography and how good he was at taking these photos with the equipment that you had at that moment in history. And the time that it took him to, to, you know, the breadth of his work over 20 or 30 years. Yeah. I have to check that one out. Why are adventures important to you?

The venture is important because. I think immersing ourself in nature, as much as we can is important. I think it’s something that we are losing contact with. Our connection to the outdoors, our spiritual connection, our physical connections to outdoors. It’s something that I believe that we are slightly losing a little bit losing touch off.

Also adventure is so important because. You’re in some way or another, [00:44:00] you’re pushing a boundary or pushing a comfort zone. And that to me is how we grow as people. And, and, and not forget forgetting that adventure is very relative. So you could be a mom with two children and put a tent in the garden as that could be adventure for you.

Or you could be like menu where we travel to wild places for something. A little bit more extreme or longer or whatever, something like that. So remembering adventure is still relative and adventure is in our DNA. Exploration is in our DNA as people, as human beings to explore, to go to different terrains, different environments.

And I think we need to, we need to nurture that and feed that as much as we can. And I think. Being in nature, spending time in nature, I just pushing ourselves is, is, is just good for the soul. Is food for the soul. Yeah, no, I, I agree. As you were basically saying, I think Quate is [00:45:00] comfort and grief cannot coexist.

Yeah, that’s it. And one of mine is without challenge. There is no growth. So that’s why on those adventures, you know, you’re not talking when you go on adventure, it doesn’t have to be a physical challenge. It could be a mental challenge, cultural challenge, like challenge, ideas, challenge, your perspectives challenge what you think is acceptable, not acceptable and also challenge yourself in terms of what you can achieve, what you can enjoy.

Yeah. And I say, I think adventure is important for everybody on every level. Yeah. I agree. What is your favorite quote? Sorry. My favorite quote is from that book of Edward Curtis and the quote is to accomplish it. Curtis has exchanged ease, comfort home life for the hardest kind of work frequent and long continued separation from his family.

The wearing Toyota travel through different regions, and [00:46:00] finally the heartbreaking struggle of winning over to his purpose. Primitive men to human, ambitious time and money mean nothing, but to who, but to her dream or a cloud in the sky or a bird flying across the trial from the wrong direction means much.

And that to me says that, you know, that. Th th the simple things on expeditions on adventure are the most important things. And you enjoy all of, all of those struggles of being separated from your family, the money that it might cost, the sacrifices that you might make to, to go in search of a more simpler life.

And when you’re on expeditions, I truly believe that it’s the SIM. When you, when you break it down into those really simple processes and acts of taking the less amount of equipment and, and and simplifying your life to a certain degree, that’s where the true [00:47:00] beauty of expeditions is is, is to live more, simply an exist more simply.

Very nice people. Listening are always keen to travel and go on these big grand adventures. What’s the one thing you would recommend to people wanting to get started? I would something that we’ve had to do because of COVID is to start local. And enjoy your local environment and explore, explore what’s around you.

I would say if people starting out is to, yeah. Just start local, find a beautiful Woodland, find a trail for a beautiful Woodland. Keep your phone in your pocket. Don’t bring your phone out and just listen, have, have a mindful 20 minutes while you’re not talking and listen to how much more that you can hear the birds, the animals, the wind or, you know, engage all of the sentences.

And if you’re looking for something a little bit more challenging and longer distance or something. That’s going to push you in different [00:48:00] ways. Again, start with your, why, what, what environment would I love this adventure to be in? Would it be Woodlands? Would it be mountains? Would it be on a river?

Would it be on water? And write down every component of that adventure? How long would it be for? Would I be with other people? What would be the goal of the journey? How long would it be for right. All of those things down in like a mini mind map and then think, okay, so what what places can I go that are mountainous?

What river could I go to? That’s here or there? What I need to travel that I really break down a back engineer, the components of that adventure and just really free think, write down anything and don’t let any restrictions be the travel restrictions, physical restrictions. Whether you feel that you can do it or can’t do it mentally, you know, free thing.

Just, just write down exactly that dream adventure, that dream trip. [00:49:00] And if it’s something that you kind of do this year, do it next year. Find something that feeds into some of those points somewhere here in the UK. So you could go to Wales, Scotland Lake district, there’s rivers, there’s mountains, there’s Woodlands there’s long distance, small distance trails.

There’s no excuse. Yeah. The skews and the barriers are the ones that we put up ourselves. So just design your dream adventure and then find a way to make that happen. And if you can’t. Contact me I’ll help you make it happen. Well, there you go. No, I think it’s very true. I think, you know, for this summer, especially as we were discussing before the podcast started our intent, well, my intention and probably yours is to keep it local, to keep it UK based.

And I thought, I think, well, not that we have any choice anyway, but I think it’s also nice to explore your own. Place you’re at your own home. I remember in 2017 cycling up to Edinburgh and I was just [00:50:00] like blown away by the peat district and the Lake district, especially, and I had never really had any desire to go up there, but other than maybe from with Nelson, but other than that, I was, yeah, I had no intention, but it was, you know, more breathtaking then nearly.

99% of the places that I’ve been around the world and it’s right on your doorstep or right on my doorstep. So yeah, it’s definitely one to do think local. Yeah. That’s it. And I think a lot of the time we, we, we assume adventure is far away into another country. Another continent. Or go into a desert mountain range or whatever, but again, go back to that.

Adventure is a mindset and what it means to you and what it means to me is probably similar but slightly different. And what it means to a mama to children is very different. So yeah, [00:51:00] explore local and find out kind of what adventure really means means to you. Cause you can, you can go and sleep a baby bag in a beautiful pine Woodland somewhere.

I’ll take a little stove and make a cup of tea in the morning and that kind of thing, even, you know, the boundaries of things been legal and non-legal, but you could do that. And that’s, that’s an incredible adventure, or it being in this country, you could go to a body, you could set up a body adventure and go and stay in bodies.

Now bodies are what, make a hike into a very cool adventure. So there’s this, if you get creative and you know, you find ways to do things, you can have an adventure in this country, a really good adventure. Yeah. Finally, what are you doing now? And how can people follow your trips in the future? So what I’m doing now is.

Planning for the year ahead, which is probably going to be UK or local Europe based. [00:52:00] I’m thinking of potentially with a friend, if we can crossing Sweden by foot and then Norway by canoe. So Norway and Sweden are joined together. So we’re going to just literally go across the width of those two countries.

If we can’t do that more than likely it will be. Scotland or something along those lines, some big adventures canoe in some big locks may be something similar. It’s like that somebody sort of arduous quite challenging for a week or two. And you can find me on Instagram. So it’s at Ian, the letter E Finch and my website, which is www N E finch.com.

Amazing. Well, Ian, thank you so much for coming on the show today. You have some incredible stories to tell and I’m sure a few more that we haven’t had the chance to get through. Ample people listening as as I was saying on the podcast and photography is truly brilliant. So [00:53:00] do you check out his website and you can see and Instagram, and you can see all the amazing photography he’s done over the years.

Lovely. Thank you. Well, that is it for today. Thank you so much for watching and I hope you got something out of it. If you did hit that like button and subscribe, if you haven’t already, and I will see you in the next video.

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