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Meet the Loudoun County native who documented his four-month trek through Patagonia

The “Unbounded” crew, left to right: Garrett Martin, Aljoscha Adam, Robyn McLellan and Anthony Brogno. Courtesy Photo
“I’ve always been really drawn to kind of extremely desolate, remote, isolated places, and Patagonia is like the ultimate of that. I’ve always wanted to go there.”

That’s Garrett Martin. He’s like a lot of young adults in Loudoun: He attended Woodgrove High School, went to college at James Madison University and earned a degree in business.

But he’s also got a yen for travel and adventure, specifically by hitchhiking, trekking and rafting through far flung places like the wilderness of Chile. That's where his just-released documentary film “Unbounded” took him and three other backpackers for four months through the Andes.

“I found out about the Greater Patagonian Trail, and it’s right in the heart of Patagonia. The trail itself is documented pretty well but it’s not like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest that are really well maintained,” Martin said in an interview with the Times-Mirror. “And since we were filming, nobody had really done that before, so it made things more complicated in planning for the trip. How much gear can we bring? How much can we actually carry? Stuff like that, so we had to do a lot of research.”

About four to five months of research.

“Unbounded” isn’t Martin’s first travel documentary. He also directed and filmed “Beyond Travel,” a hitchhiking documentary that covers 6,500 kilometers – about 4,039 miles – of Canada, from Newfoundland to Vancouver. That’s how he found his international crew for “Unbounded.”

The crew is made up of Martin, his co-producer Aljoscha Ada, who is from Germany and has also hitchhiked through Canada; Robyn McClellan, a Brit who had been living in Vancouver, is fluent in Spanish and acted as translator for the “Unbounded” trip; and Anthony Brogno, a wilderness expeditions coordinator from Massachusetts.

“We all basically met each other through this tight-knit community of backpackers, so we all knew each other through our hitchhiking,” said Martin.

After the initial research, planning and fundraising, the crew finally left for the trail, starting in Santiago in the Andes Mountains. The Greater Patagonian trail covers about 2,000-plus kilometers. Over the course of four months, Martin and his crew covered about 700 kilometers of it, exploring and learning about the region.

Even though the crew researched and planned extensively, they were still out on the trail on their own for four months.

“We had a couple hairy situations that got pretty rough,” Martin told the Times-Mirror. “At one point we got stuck. The forest was pretty overgrown—again this trail isn’t really maintained like the Appalachian Trail with cleared paths and markers. So we were stuck in the forest, without a machete, and we had to cut our way through with a pack raft pole to try and get through the forest. We spent a whole day and only got about two kilometers into it, so that’s maybe less than half a kilometer an hour. We had to set up a couple emergency camps and then finally because we couldn’t get all the way through we had to back track about 30 kilometers because it was so rough. We had a few things like that happen that got pretty rough.”

Ultimately the crew made it to their end point, Patagonia National Park.

“It’s a conservation project and the main aspect of the film is the conservation effort in the region to protect these last wild places. So we knew we wanted to end up there, and when we did there was a great feeling of achievement I guess you could say. It’s pretty hard to explain,” Martin said. “And while we were there they actually finalized the park deal with the government to combine the largest private land donation in history. It was pretty cool be there in the national park during that time and interview the staff and learn more about the conservation issues in Chile.”

Martin hopes “Unbounded” will raise awareness for those issues and help efforts to protect the Patagonian National Park and the region they explored during the making of the documentary. He and his crew hope to submit their documentary to film festivals in the D.C. area and in Virginia, with hopes to then take it to “international, adventure travel films festivals,” as Martin put it.

To follow the project, go to http://www.unboundedthefilm.com, and their social media platforms. The “Unbounded” team this week launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the documentary.


Very cool story! But you know what would be even cooler?—-Bringing the local connection to a full circle by having the film debut at the Middleburg Film Festival.

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