If you were to peruse my scenery-saturated instagram, you could be forgiven for thinking I grew up in a bach* clutched against sea cliffs in a picturesque New Zealand coastal town – days spent running the bluffs and nights toasting salt-frosted skin by the fire under the night-blush of the Aurora Australis.
Or perhaps in a snow-wrapped Canadian town. Complete with woolly sock and fleece jacket-padded wardrobe.
In fact, my fiery passion for the outdoors was only fairly recently ignited.
While I have been a gym bunny all my adult life (Pump class? You better believe I sweated as hard as any wilderness warrior), wild-haired bush-woman I was not. The notion of snowy breaks was pretty much limited to iced coffee dates.
Then one day several years ago, a training buddy invited me to be the runner in a team adventure race in my current home state of Tasmania – a state which is also home also to some of the world’s most spectacular forests, beaches and sea-carved coastline.
The event included kayaking, running, cycling and mountain-biking. The run was 32 kilometers over two days, over some of my home state’s most challenging terrain: think steep climbs, followed by quicksand-like soft beaches, followed by more steep climbs. Basically a pain sandwich. At that stage the longest I had run in my life was about 12 k.
Eight weeks of killer runs up steep local and one adventure race later, and my life was never the same again. I was hooked. On forest trails, on the kind of people who treasure and spend their leisure time in it, on the almost-spiritual hold it now has on me.
These days, it’s kind of the norm for me to plan a run up a local mountain with some friends of a weekend. I never feel more of who I am than while my shoes chomp leaves and squelch mud underfoot, the scents wafting up to my nostrils, an intoxicating mix when blended with some of the freshest air in the world and Lord of the Rings-worthy views characteristic of Australia’s most southernmost state.
I didn’t start small. I went from zero to one of the most challenging runs in the country.
But if you’re the sort of person who looks at stunning photos of other people’s magical-looking wilderness adventures, I want to encourage you to start your own adventure campaign. Because if this blog inspires one person to adopt a little more outdoors – with the incredibly positive trickle effect I know it will have on every other part of life – my job is done. Here are some ideas for starting out:
- Take half an hour one morning this week, get a coffee, find a beach just a little out of your way and stroll. Feeling really frisky? Take your shoes off, dip your feet in, and enjoy how the shivers run up your calves and wake up your mind and body alike.
- Find a local track. One of those trails that runs just a hair’s breadth behind suburbia. Leave your headphones behind. Listen for the sound of small creatures. Try and spot one.
- Set yourself a photo challenge. Each time you head outdoors, find something beautiful to capture. It doesn’t have to be a movie-worthy vista from a mountain peak, or a perfect glassy lake. Maybe a carpet of pine leaves, or a Monet mimicking multi-coloured mossy-spotted rock. Post that insta-worthy image and be proud. Don’t worry about what most people might think – you never know who it might inspire.
- Take your night-time hot chocolate and a woolly rug outside. Look up.
- Challenge yourself a little more, next time.
You may or may not end up running or hiking 30, 60 or 90 kilometres across demanding stretches of rock.
Or maybe you will.
But I urge you to start small, in your adventures.
Or not. Follow in my mad size nines and go straight to Big if you wish.
But whatever the scale, the more adventurers among us, the greater the consciousness about the need to relish and preserve this grand and vivid world.
*small house, or beach hut in New Zealand. One of my favourite countries.
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