Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
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pitely (64)

So the shootin' was pretty good in the Alps. Here’s a flier at a photo greatest hits collection. It's a bit subjective, and I'm sure I made a few wrong calls, but I think it still makes a decent little high-speed review....   (read more)

So. We had one last mountain to climb on this day, and on this walk: Le Brevent, at 2525m. And, along the way, we would make two big decisions that would change our memories of this walk forever....   (read more)

The sun is behind the escarpment, and so off of our little lofty bowl of lake and refuge. But it is still emphatically lighting up the massif, including the grand old white beast, Mt. Blanc herself, out to our west. The sight is completely majestic and magnificent. “This is it,” Tim says. And I know he's nailed it. This is everything we came to see, in one sprawling, stunning, glowing, larger-than-life tableau. This is it....   (read more)

Morning in Hotel du Glacier, Champex-Lac. Though there wasn't a cloud in the sky, the forecast for the day wasn't good - and we met a man who had just been turned back from the Fenetre d'Arpette. Basically, it was too early in the season for such a dicy, glorious, adventuresome variante. I bowed to the inevitable. The Alp Bovine route it was....   (read more)

Today we would be walking through more undramatic forest and hillsides and river paths. But it made a change. And it would end at Champex-Lac, a village on a lake - way higher up in the mountains than you'd expect to find any kind of lake....   (read more)

Today's walk was to include: * a leisurely ramble through a flower-and-butterfly-filled valley; * a climb up to an entirely decent col overlooking a big ole glacier, with a herd of ibex down on some cliffs below, and which took us over the border into Switzerland; and * a couple of hours of actual rain, and a slog therethrough - the only real rain event we experienced on a TEN-DAY WALK....   (read more)

Day Five of the TMB was a day of superlatives, including: * The longest, hardest climb I (for one) have ever done; * The biggest single hunk of towering massif we'd ever see in one place (the Grandes Jorasses) - at the foot of which sat: * By far the most amazing refuge (or, perhaps, lodging of any kind) most of us had ever enjoyed....   (read more)

The photo above depicts me in, or just before, the moments when I felt, more than at any other time before or since, that it was possible I might lose my life. Obviously I didn't die, and reasonable people seem to disagree about how much danger I was actually in. But there can be no question that I've never been so scared. In my mind, at the very least, this was a no-bullshit, breath-stealing, pulse-supercharging, this-could-really-be-it (the end of my whole story, right here and now) tango with death....   (read more)

Morning douches, a killer snow descent, shin betrayal, a murderous slog in the sun, the ascent of death, raging runoff, the most stunning col yet, my best photography ever, God's front room, badass Aussies, shower follies, and Tim's sledding fail....   (read more)

Planning catastrophes, sniffy French, closed-out mountain passes, crushing climbs, severely beautiful mountain vistas, dicing with death on snow diagonals, braving ridicule in snow gaiters, assault by the sun, the best refuge spot ever (so far) - and of course the titular miracle....   (read more)

TMB Day 1, Les Houches to Les Contamines: to include the first punishing climb; the first stunning mountain col - and (not unrelatedly) the first snowfield across the path; the first knee-murdering, endless descent; plus the amazing Refuge di Miage, Lynchian cows, and also much witty banter....   (read more)

Gobsmackingly beautiful mountain vistas... ass-smashing, neverending, unprecedented, merciless climbs... traverses over treacherous icy escarpments and steep snow diagonals... at least one genuine, no-bullshit, breath-stealing, this-could-really-be-it dice with death... climbs over cols and around glaciers of soul-tweaking beauty and grandeur... close encounters with Alpine wildlife (such as ibex, chamois, and marmots)... and nights in remote refuges perched in absolutely unbelievably stunning mountaintop settings (that could only be reached by Alpine trekkers, and resupplied by helicopter)....   (read more)

Okay, this is pretty damned cringe-making, but here are a huge number of photos of me....   (read more)

In 1993, thirty-three-year old Tibor Fischer crashed the London literary scene with his debut novel Under the Frog. The title co-opted the traditional Hungarian lament about being "under a frog's arse in the bottom of a coal mine"...   (read more)

Morning, breakfast in an amazing upstairs room with, reassuringly (to, you know, me) several guns on the wall. Rather less reassuringly, there was this countour map of the West Highlands, which our hosts thought they were being helpful in pointing out to us....   (read more)

Well, it's that time of year. I'd say the gardeners of Hyde Park must have planted the bulbs, the special bulbs, around March. You know the ones I mean. The ones that sprout blooming flowers on these warm days. Young, shapely, beautiful, nearly completely naked women - wearing only the equivalent of string underpants - lying on their stomachs, all over the grass fields of the park....   (read more)

So, previously on our show, we cut the day's dispatch short, leaving our heroes palsiedly perambulating into the port town of Mawgan Porth - one hobbling and whimpering, and the other cackling and rubbing his hands together: "Yessss... yesss... we will walk futher, we will walk more... we will walk up, and down... there will never be an end to the walking... Mua-HaHaHaHaHa!!!"...   (read more)

Hero Shot - Laura Seay & Michael Stephen Fuchs, 2006...   (read more)

Yesterday I woke up and it was all over and everyone was gone....   (read more)

Morning in Robin Hood's Bay. I stretched, yawned, and looked out the window beside my bed. Then I yawned and stretched again....   (read more)

So, nothing like the best single night's sleep ever (as mentioned yesterday), before the last day of the longest walk of your life. We awoke in the clean, pretty, quiet, sunny room together, and rolled over and stretched and yawned languorously and finally roused ourselves to go downstairs for, oh yes, another ass-kicking breakfast....   (read more)

"For many, particularly those who enjoy cosy English villages hidden amongst the finest, gentlest, most bucolic scenery this country has to offer, the 13.5-mile stroll down the Esk Valley from Glaisdale to Grosmont is simply the best section of the walk . . . But first you have to get to the valley, and that means getting down off the moors . . . parts of this short-cut are extremely boggy - up to waist-deep, in my experience - and unless you want to end up like the dead sheep that occasionally litter this part of the moor it's probably safer to stick to the roads."...   (read more)

Early morning in the Schesse-frei pub backyard. The very first light of day glances off of the still and quiet (and glisteningly wet) tents. Mark: I suppose there's nothing for it but to get moving. Me: But we don't have to do it now. Mark: I wonder if we could for once manage not to be excruciatingly early or absurdly late for breakfast . . . Darby Danger, we're up!...   (read more)

And so morning arrived at the gloriously well-appointed camp site that was somehow wildly inferior to all the pub back yards we'd camped in. Note to self, I thought: Four pints is one pint too many....   (read more)

Mark: Wow, that's the first time the sun has driven us from our tent . . . It was true, we emerged to a gloriously sunny day in the back yard of the White Swan. This called for shorts....   (read more)

Morning finds Applegarth Camping Barn - and our heroes snug in bed: Mark: I can't tell if that's wind or rain. Me: It's not rain. Go back to sleep. Mark: That's definitely rain. Me: No, you're dreaming . . . I had the most awful vivid dream last night. Mark: Were you trapped three quarters of the way across England with two freaks? Me: That's no dream, that's your reality....   (read more)

Darby: Screw you guys - I'm goin' to the B&B. Us: But- Darby: Eh! Screw you guys - B&B....   (read more)

It appears that on this walk if it's not one goddamned thing, it's another: if you manage to avoid getting blown off the cliff-edge of a fell, you've only survived to later get swallowed whole by a bog. Well, never a dull moment....   (read more)

"Those who struggled to complete the previous stage will be less than delighted to hear that today's hike is, at 21 miles, even longer. Indeed, for many it will be the longest day on the entire route."...   (read more)

As well, we couldn't afford to get lost up here. Miles from any town, isolated up in the peaks, hemmed in by weather . . . we could end up doing circles, or heading off in some wrong direction, until we succumbed to the weather and exhaustion....   (read more)

So, our acute food problem so far had largely consisted of three parts: 1) breaking camp and leaving town before anything opened; 2) getting into the next town after everything had closed; and 3) not packing nearly enough trail food to get us from one to the other....   (read more)

So the Retained Technical Consultant on our Coast to Coast Walk was one Josh Schroeder - extremely experienced hiker/camper, Eagle Scout, and all around prince of a guy....   (read more)

So did I forget to mention the American? (Aka the Quiet American, aka the Ugly American.) We first met this august gentleman at the station in Carlisle, where our rail connection to St. Bees was cancelled and replaced by a bus service....   (read more)

Awoke in St. Bees to sunshine and breeze and calling seabirds - a very propitious morning indeed....   (read more)

And but so I got this idea in my head. Coming back from the holidays in Atlanta, I realised that I needed something. You need something. You know? I'd read a sidebar in the Guardian mentioning the Coast to Coast path. And I thought - Hey! I like to walk!...   (read more)

well. presuming that mark also assents, and presuming that the two of you are not afraid for your virtue, traveling with a Member Of The Opposite Sex - i'm in. d...   (read more)

Mark, Would you care to walk across England with me in the last two weeks of March?...   (read more)

I planted a garden - my first (without close supervision). Tomatoes. Turning soil is, of course, good for the soul....   (read more)

Nan's Basement, 2003 - (mixed digital media)...   (read more)

The hop from Amboseli to Nairobi was painless, and our quick drive-by of downtown Nairobi tended to underscore why we weren't being dropped off in the city proper. Lamentably, these days, Nairobi is literally one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden cities on the planet. ...   (read more)

So I actually spent a lot of time worrying about, and trying to figure out how to avoid, dying in that Land Cruiser we took to Serengeti....   (read more)

Dawn on the Crater Rim - and major themes seemed to be brutal cold, and sophomoric humor...   (read more)

Serengeti, and Ngorongoro Crater, that's what reason we have for leaving. In Tanzania, the town of Arusha is the gateway to these places, and that's where we're heading today. But first a few last orders of business in town....   (read more)

I emerge from my "life enjoyment break" in African Gelato Heaven into the lightest, gentlest sprinkle, which has floated in on the offshore breeze. Looping hotelward, but wide, I find myself in the proper, local (non-tourist) market - filled with stalls, vendors, shops, honking vehicles, and thousands of faces (all of which but mine are non-white)....   (read more)

If Africa is the continent the world left behind, but can't stop thinking about, then Zanzibar is the Arab world's Africa. Across oceans of time (as well as the Indian Ocean), the Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phonecians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Dutch, and English have all dropped in here....   (read more)

Right, then - so one more beach camp site on the shores of Lake Malawi. And although this one would be indistinguishable from Kande Beach to, say, Martians, it sure was a whole new kettle of worms for us....   (read more)

Lake Malawi is the 3rd largest in Africa (behind Tanganyika (Burton's discovery) and Victoria), and the 9th largest in the world. It is 580km long, and believed to be 750m at its deepest point. Moreover, due to it's waves, winds, tides, and unpredictable weather, it is officially classified as "the sea."...   (read more)

I suppose that the trouble really started in Cape Town - the truck trouble, that is. I'm much more amazed than angry that Nomad doesn't maintain their trucks - given that their business pretty much is their trucks, and they (not to mention their customers) are going nowhere fast without them....   (read more)

We moved to a rougher camp site (a bit too rough, in my view), on the banks of the Zambezi River. Mark: I just saw a mamba. Me: Is it dangerous? Mark: Heh heh, ha ha. I wouldn't say it's dangerous. I mean, if it bites you, you're dead. But it's a pretty happy, peaceful snake . . . Though, again, if it bites you, you're dead....   (read more)

What can be said of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe? How about, "Get the *&%$ back right now, you massed, marauding swarms of human stinging flies!" for starters? ...   (read more)

Betwixt the Delta and Chobe, we paused for a brief respite at something called Planet Baobob - a camp site situated amidst 3,500-year old baobob trees....   (read more)

We woke with the dawn - to beat the heat, and ideally to meet the animals, who were also beating the heat. We quickly spotted more red litchri, splashed with steeply slanting sunlight, as well as a lonely elephant in the (far) distance....   (read more)

Our last night in the world, Paul sat us down before dinner, and gave us the scoop about the Delta: how to avoid becoming meat for any of the local Delta denizens....   (read more)

She came out of the sun, as we motored our way out of Etosha. Mark and I were fast asleep, and roused by Jo's piercing cry: "Lion, lion!"...   (read more)

We arrived in Etosha Park earlier than expected on Tuesday afternoon, allowing us the opportunity of a 70km game drive straight off, basically just to get to our camp site. Etosha is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest wildlife-viewing parks...   (read more)

When we did roll on into the camp site - nestled between two tremendous, towering piles of rocks (with others nearby) - jaws were on the ground; and there seemed to be a general consensus that this was the best setting for a camp site anyone's ever seen....   (read more)

"But mad dogs and Englishmen / Go out in the noonday sun." - Noel Coward ... Astute readers will recall that the above quote has been previously used on Dispatch from the Razor's Edge. However, it turns out that it really, really bears repeating - the moment one sets foot in the Namib Desert....   (read more)

Well, I've really gotten completely over this Cool Guy Hat Flaps Up pretension, let me tell you. The African sun - as advertised - is a brutal, insidious, and insistent beast....   (read more)

I'm sitting in the shade of a bungalow just above the banks of the Orange River, in Namibia. I've just survived being swept down a fair portion of said river, in the process of which misadventure I nearly lost both a fiberglass canoe, and a very nice German gal named Astrid. ...   (read more)

Special Dispatch Commemoration: On this day five years ago I set foot off my homeland - landing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada - for the first time ever. Was November 1, 1997 the best night of my life?...   (read more)

Michael, After some serious consideration, I don't think I could pass up the opportunity both to tour Africa and to have a real adventure with a true friend....   (read more)

about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (2014); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of spec-ops zombie apocalypse dark action thrillers. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
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