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Inspiration

My Training for Denali

My Training for Denali

Training/workouts/exercise/session/thrashing/beasting/gymming … Whatever term you use it all comes down to one focus – improving yourself physically and mentally.

I feel I can write a post about training now. I’ve been seeing real improvements over the last 3 months on the run up to my Denali expedition. It’s a real relief to see clear results of my developments because in the last year or so, moving forward with training was going at a real slow rate and injuries kept reoccurring. A few years ago I was fit as a fiddle, some may even say too fit/did too much as it later developed to injury (and when I say injury I mean running so much that I broke the bones in my feet.) Being injured really knocked me off guard and I lost my focus a little in the fear of injuring myself again.

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Balancing work and play... Or in my case, not very well

Balancing work and play... Or in my case, not very well

I was told a memorable bit of advice when on an expedition in Svalbard for 10-weeks in 2011. For the whole team, it was the first long haul expedition we had ever been on. We had no outside contact at all, were completely self-sufficient in the Arctic wilderness. We were moving, climbing and partaking in science work for the duration and it took some of the team more time than others to adjust to this life. We were told that it would take each person different times before our 'spirit' traveled from the UK to Svalbard.

The idea being that our spirits would be left at home when we arrived in Svalbard whilst we adjusted to life in the Arctic. But when we were in the swing of things and the expedition became our world, our spirit would return to us and we would feel whole again. It would take even longer for our spirit to return to us when we got home. For many months post expedition it would be left in Svalbard as we adjusted to civilian life again. Thing is, I don’t think my spirit ever came back, my spirit is essentially always on the next adventure. That’s not a cry for sympathy, I love my civilian life but what makes it so great is that I can keep adventure a part of it. Without it I would have a big piece of me missing.

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SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THOSE YOU RESPECT

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THOSE YOU RESPECT

Surround yourself with people you respect, people you admire, people you are inspired by and people that have a positivity for life and live a life they love. I truly think that it’s what drives me the most. I am affected by others mood. If someone is down in the dumps or bored with life, it gets me down. I hate that it can and I try to resist by taking myself away from those scenarios.

This weekend, Tim and I spent it with adventurer (one title of many) Neil Laughton. I have known Neil for many years now and he is a man I hugely respect and look up to. I have been on expeditions with him, partied with him and I go to him for advice. Saturday night we all chatted about adventure, past, present and future, our ambitions and love of life. We then hit the dance floor after one too many cocktails!! Sunday was a different story, I’ll go into that later!

I get such a buzz of excitement, interacting with those who are on the same wavelength as me. Tim and I have one another to bounce off, which we treasure but we get an extra high when there’s someone else who is more experienced and has new adventures and words of wisdom to pass on. I know that for as long as I live I want to have this lust for life. Doing things that I love and making them happen no matter what. There’s always a way to make your dreams come true and Neil is a shining example of that. The man seems to be able to make any idea a reality and has his fingers in so many different honey pots - he just makes time for everything. It’s a wonderful feeling to think and know you can do the same. I’ve proved it to be the same for me so far and I’ll keep proving it.

There’s this unique notion when around a table with likeminded people talking about dreams and ambitions. The energy, excitement and pure happiness with life is so contagious, as long as you let it be. It’s just so great to be with people who can recognise opportunities whatever they are and be proactive in making something that seems impossible, possible. I hope that I too can have that effect on people because I am so susceptible to it!

I really think people can get stuck in a rut all too easily by being around others who are also not making the most of their time and who live a life too comfortable. There’s something huge to be said for getting out of your comfort zone once in a while and meeting new people and trying new things. Be different and dive into the deep end.  I can’t think of anything worse than sticking with the same predictable routine.

As for Sunday, Neil invited us to learn what he’s been encouraging many others to try… Penny farthing riding! Why the hell not eh?! So on Sunday morning, we all rocked up hungover and a little off balance at St James Square to learn the art of the penny farthing. After just over an hour of practicing riding and getting on and off on quiet roads we hit the busy central streets of London to see the sights of the city! It was fantastic fun, a skill was learnt and I’ve never had my photo taken so many times in such a short space of time!!

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!