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Adventurer in the city

Adventurer in the city

The presumed opinion is that to enjoy a life of adventure, one must reject the 9-5, the fast pace of the city and the seemingly superficial lifestyle to then resort to the sticks, become a vegan and hike all day and night. This is fine to do if that’s what you want but it’s not the way I have created my expedition orientated life.

I’ll be honest, I know I’m young and relatively responsibility free (I am fully aware that many people have more commitments) but I wasn’t born with it all mapped out for me. I had to create my own path but I made it how I wanted it to be. I’m fortunate enough to have a full-time job that I enjoy and that challenges me when I am not in the remote corners of the world but a job that allows me to take the time (within reason) to continue my exploration career.

I enjoy the glitz of the city just as much as the peace and beauty of the wilderness.

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The Fog

The Fog

It's incredibly foggy today. Not 'weather-foggy' but politically foggy. As individuals in the modern world we are weighed down by unnecessary things. Social media, political issues, media, public transport, schedules, meetings etc. 

I say this today because today we all woke up with an uncertain future. As we watch what is happening in the states, we feel helpless and disappointed with the choices of some and the fog in our heads gets thicker.

Going on expeditions clears that fog. All that useless worrying doesn't matter when you're out in the wild. To be honest, it doesn't do a lot of good worrying when in civilisation either. 

Now I have my concerns for the future, one of my biggest is the fear of stepping backwards with our progress in tackling climate change and embracing electric cars, (three hip- hip hoorays for Elon Musk) green energy like solar (again, Horray Musk) and educating people about it. However worrying won't help me, it's all about actions now. So I urge you to be rational and problem solve the things you are worrying about and to not let the modern day fog get in the way of the things that matter. Get outside into the hills and the mind will be foggy no more.

The Million Dollar Question

The Million Dollar Question

How do you afford adventures?

Expeditions do not have to cost a lot of money. We now live in a world where the cost of a flight is very reasonable and the internet opens doors for numerous ways of fundraising.

Okay I'm not in denial, the larger expeditions do cost a lot. Anywhere like the Arctic or high altitude mountains require an awful lot of kit and some pricey insurance. These take time to save and fundraise but it is, just like everything else, all possible if you want it bad enough. There's crowdfunding and trusts that can all help get you the pennies for the bigger trips.

So excluding those kind of adventures, the others can be done on just a few hundred quid. I've recently found myself going on adventures with a smaller price tag whilst I save and plan for the bigger ones. 

In the last 18 months, the cheap adventures I have been on are as follows: Walking across Spain (on my own route, not the camino), trekking in Scotland (45 miles per day!), the GR20; the long distance scramble across the whole of Corsica and finally, and epic adventure in Iceland.

It doesn't take a lot of money to have some great adventures. Nor does it take a lot of time for some. I am very aware that with a full time job and a family, it's not as easy to get out for months at a time. However, for a dose of the outside, a 40 minute train ride out of London and you're out of the city and into the countryside. Take along some mates,  a sleeping and a bivvy bag, a field somewhere and you're set for a night in the semi-wild! Alastair Humphreys is the expert on Micro Adventures. See what he has to say on these type of adventures here

What I'm talking about is somewhere in-between a micro adventure and an epic long haul expedition.

Getting there

Living in the UK means we have easy access to the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Atlas mountains. So that's cheap transport covered. 

Food

Next is food. Planning is the best way to make food on adventures as cheap as possible. See if there are cheap supermarkets where you begin your adventure or take it with you in the first place.

Route

Research, learn and apply. The great thing about having experience and knowledge of the wilderness is that you  don't need to pay for guides. Obviously this can't always be the case for safety reasons but when you are able to guide yourself or go with friends who are more experienced than you, it'll save heaps of cash. 

Kit

Warmer destinations require less specialised kit. I have to admit I've accumulated kit for a huge range of adventures now but admittedly it has taken years.

I've got a low cost but exciting and wild adventure planned very soon. Flights were £50 return, I'm going somewhere I've never been before and spending a lot of time planning and researching the area to get the most out of the environment I'm heading to.

The hardest thing is always deciding where you're heading and then committing. Commit and you've already began your journey!

Short term memory

Short term memory

I usually complain about the fact that humans have a short term memory. We do though, we will watch a hard hitting documentary about climate change and extinction and how we are one car drive away from wiping out this whole planet.. Then we will switch off the telly, get up and switch on the fan heater instead of putting on the wooly jumper grandma gave us. We are short term creatures, only a couple of meals away from starvation.

There's no wonder why most of the world can't see beyond their own lives and don't give a monkeys ass about what happens after they're gone.

shutterstock_153806906
shutterstock_153806906

This short term memory is something to be ashamed of.

However the short term memory I am talking about is the kind that gets me through hard expeditions and training. It may be the only thing that will get me through Patagonia. (Although I really hope it doesn't apply with the skill sets I need to remember, such as rope and kayak skills!)

I went for a run this morning and I feel great now but if I really think back to just an hour ago when I was on that run; in the rain, wind and mud, going up hills and feeling like my legs were made of lead, I realise that I've forgotten those bad parts. For me, any good that can be found in that kind of thing, out ways the bad.

It's the same on bike rides. Going up a hill feeling like you're not making any progress as your thighs burn and you wobble because your speed isn't enough to keep you riding smoothly. Your lungs are at full capacity, your breathing hurts, your heart is pounding out of your mouth and your eyes droop as the hill doesn't ever seem to end. But then, you're at the top, the incline has changed and now you are going down, free wheeling and you think "that wasn't too bad." Already you've forgotten that feeling of struggle.

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I'm all too aware that Patagonia will consist of extremely hard struggle the majority of the time. What I've got to cling on to however is the idea that any little ray of light or enjoyment, will allow me to forget the terror and let me look around and appreciate what I am doing and where I am. Our team camaraderie should assist in this.

Because let's face it, it's been my choice all along to sign up to this ridiculous challenge that I am in no way qualified for. It should also be my choice to have a little fun with it and be grateful to everyone around me who have supported me in this insane idea.

Training for my biggest challenge yet

Training for my biggest challenge yet

My training for the Patagonia Expedition Race has well and truly begun. See featured photo of me having a mare as I climb up a stream. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I am terrified. This is the only challenge that I've taken on where I haven't been 100% sure that I am going to make it. That's exactly what draws me to it.

The race is for athletes; seasoned adventure racers. I am not a racer nor an athlete. I purely enjoy putting myself into situations where I have to live in the present and adapt to environments. I thrive on surprising myself with what I can achieve.

In the last few months, I've had to put a whole new team together due to my previous team pulling out on me. I was left stranded and had an ongoing battle in my brain for weeks on end, on whether I should continue the race, as I struggled to find a new team.

I don't know why I didn't pack it in when my original team left me. They didn't think they had it in them to take part in the race so why on earth do I think I do? Naivety? Stupidity? Delusion?

I had half an hour of panic after finding out I was alone and had to build a team again. I snapped myself out of it and something stronger than me took over. I was on the phone, emails, social media, every kind of contacting format I could come up with to find new team members, I was on it.

Within a few hours I had my first team member, Tom. Tom and I had met once, over a year ago. We had been introduced to one another because we both enjoyed adventures. Tom said yes immediately.

The next team member came at a chance meeting. After arriving in Bastia, Corsica I met Marty. (Before beginning the GR20.) I needed to hitch a ride 2 hours south to the start point of the trek so scouted for outdoor looking people at the airport.

I saw a man who held himself in a military way. I darted for him. He wasn't there for a beach holiday, I could tell he was there to trek. He turned out to be a group leader and happily gave me a lift. During the 2 hour journey, I very easily got him on board the team! Marty is an ex marine and perfectly skilled for the team.

Our last team member, Tim, came at another chance meeting. Neil Laughton invited me to attend the The British Chapter of the Explorer's Club. I mingled with like minded people and when Shane Winser (Head of expeditions at the Royal Geographical Society) introduced me to Tim, I almost immediately popped the expedition question. (Granted I'd had a glass of wine to provide such confidence.) With my surprise, Tim said yes. Tim's background is global adventure photography and he's in the marine reserves. Done. I had a new team!

Tim and I met at the Explorer's Club in London
Tim and I met at the Explorer's Club in London

Ever since we formed our new team, we've been hitting the training weekends hard. With only 4 months to go, the race is the centre of our world. It has to be.

As a team we've been yomping and climbing in Wales. Last weekend we were soaked to the core by torrential rain and wind as we navigated our way through Dartmoor (realising we need new, better waterproofs!) We climbed and abseiled alongside some marines in training and spent our nights (when we weren't night navigating) snuggled together in a floor-less tent.

The team balances one another perfectly and there's a real sense of family. I can't wait to continue getting to know everyone.

My individual training has been created by Professor Greg Whyte and it gets me training twice a day.  I am given my nutrition plan tomorrow and as I write that, I question why I haven't got a cheese plate and cold, fatty meats in for my last day of food freedom...?

I am concerned I will be the less physically able out of my strong team but with the external help I am confident I can get there. I'm pretty certain that there will come to a point in the race where we will all be the same and our strength of character and mental power will be what pulls us through.