Unbounded: Four Months on the Greater Patagonian Trail

Hiking, pack-rafting and filmmaking: behind the scenes of "Unbounded"

By:
July 9, 2017

Save List
7 Saves

This past December (2016), I arrived in Santiago as part of a young, unaided team of four explorers, with no idea what was in store for us over the months to come.  Like many others who saw us pass by with our massive packs, you might question our sanity when you learn that in addition to all of the supplies needed for an international, four month long, thru-hike; we were carrying pack-rafting gear and enough camera equipment to document the entire journey as a feature length film. “We realize that we're slightly out of our minds, but at least we're safe in doing it." – admitted Garrett Martin, our producer, director, and visionary of the project.

Photo: Garrett Martin 

Of course, an adventure of this magnitude required a lot of planning! With some help from sponsors to outfit us with the latest and lightest gear, the team and I did everything possible to trim down our pack weight; including, cutting off the ends of our toothbrushes. Although, with stretches of ten days or more between resupply points, we spent much of the journey carrying well over fifty pounds on our backs. During the breaks between climbing snow capped volcanoes and fording icy rivers, we were busy interviewing everyone from rural ranchers to Nobel Prize winning environmentalists. These powerful encounters sculpted the trip in ways that none of us could have imagined. 

Photo: Garrett Martin

The objective was to document our experience and to share the Greater Patagonian Trail (GPT) in a way that has never been done. This relatively unknown network of interlacing trails, that the creator states is “NOT A HIKING TRAIL,” consists of forty sections, which span over three-thousand kilometers, from just outside Chile’s capital, to the glaciers at the southern tip of the continent. Garrett and I, along with our two international teammates Robyn and Aljoscha, hiked, rafted, hitched, crawled, climbed, and bushwhacked, for four months to arrive at the future home of Patagonia National Park; an inconceivably massive wilderness and wildlife restoration project that is woven into the Patagonian Andes, more than two-thousand kilometers south of our starting point.


To say that we put ourselves and our gear to the test would be an understatement. Armed with a GPS and information from the only resource on the GPT, a wikiexplora page, we navigated our way through practically every type of terrain imaginable. As the group’s guide, I still maintain that mindset and attitude were the most important resources going into an expedition like this. You can have all the best gear or physical training, but I’ve learned that mental toughness and positive mindset are what get us to where we want to be...after that, physical endurance and the right supplies are pretty important too though!

Photo: Garrett Martin

At the core of the project lies a deep appreciation for, and passion to protect wild places. A point emphasized by the journey’s conclusion at the future Patagonia National Park. This national-park-in-the-making is part of nearly ten-million acres of land that the Chilean government has recently devoted to preserving. The shining example of modern conservation was made possible by the largest donation of private land for conservation purposes in history, made by the Tompkins Conservation Organization.

The poignantly timed story of “Unbounded” will be shared around the world and we hope that the film will spark an urgent desire in viewers to help protect the world’s wild places. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to conservation groups that are working to protect the wild landscapes and healthy ecosystems of Chile. A Kickstarter campaign to help fund the post production process is currently live at: Help bring "Unbounded" to life.

To learn more about the project or to get in touch with the crew, go to unboundedthefilm.com 

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.