Craghoppers’ #Choose Your Adventure contest has got me thinking. Not just because it could fund and equip the next trip. But also because we all love a good adventure story – tales of trails trod and hardships endured can help nudge us towards our next challenge.
So while you consider yours, here’s an adventure tale of my own …
Ripping the top off the ration pack, I stuffed it in my pocket to stop the wind whipping it away. I poured water that had taken ages to boil onto the dehydrated food, re-sealed the packet and waited for the contents to become edible. The wind swirled down from jagged peaks, whirling up flakes of crumbled yak dung, dust and grit. Welcome to dinner time at around 5000m in the Indian Himalaya.
These were challenging days – I was part of a team leading for British Exploring, a charity that specialises in youth development in remote locations. We spent five weeks in the Ladakh province, trekking, climbing, glacier walking and carrying out scientific fieldwork and media projects (the latter was my role).
We also learned how to not just survive but also thrive in this harsh environment as part of an expeditionary team. Challenging days, yes. But also remarkably rewarding. And full of memorable moments. Cleaning your teeth beneath a spectacular array of stars. Multi-coloured prayer flags fluttering on high passes. The trudge, trudge, trudge of scaling peaks at altitude – and the extraordinary views that are your reward.
“Those mountain stay with you,” said a friend before I left. She’s right – I can still see them in my mind’s eye.
And then there were the people. Gutsy expedition members, leaders and young explorers alike, who laughed amid the hardships. The locals who were generous with what they had, even when it was comparatively so little. And the ‘you’ that emerged along the way – who was much stronger than you thought.
Truly we can all do so much more than we think we can.
All this came flooding back when – six months and 4000 miles later – I put my hand in that same jacket pocket. And found the top of the ration pack that I’d tucked away to stop it being caught by Himalayan winds. This time I was on a GetOutside adventure on a beach in south Devon. My friends and I had walked perhaps a mile – this time at sea level, not 5000m. Instead of battling with temperamental stoves we’d built a driftwood fire and were cooking our dinner on it.
And as I looked at that fragment of a past adventure, I considered that you don’t have to travel half way around the world to make moments to remember. The woods, beaches, mountains and moors of the UK are an adventure playground all of our own.
We just have to see the possibilities and seize them. To work out how to get out there – safely and responsibly. To gather friends and family and set off to explore our worlds, wherever they may be.
Hike, cycle, run, swim, kayak, camp, climb – the possibilities are endless.
And each time we go out we add to our own adventure story. And the clothes we have those adventures in become part of that narrative. My expedition jacket as well as having some ingrained Himalayan dust, now also smells of Devon wood smoke. My trekking trousers are now also fringed with Dartmoor mud. The rucksack that bears the scars of a DEET leak from a trip to the Canadian Yukon, now also has rosemary in a pocket, gathered from a Spanish climbing crag.
And Craghoppers will be playing a part in this year’s adventure stories. My Ordnance Survey GetOutside coat has been my default activity jacket for a year and a half. Now a windproof jacket, zip-up fleece, and down/synthetic jacket have been added to my kit list. I’m taking them with me to Iceland this month to test on wilderness hikes, kayaking trips and remote campsites. They’ll get battered, grubby and probably more than a bit smelly.
But after leaving the Westfjords to return to England’s West Country, I’ll perhaps wear them as I head out wild camping, climbing, kayaking and wild swimming. And I’ll put a hand in a pocket and discover another reminder of big skies and wild spaces.
Because the adventures I choose are the ones that keep rolling on.
That’s one of my adventure stories – what are yours?
Through #ChooseYourAdventure, Craghoppers is hoping to hear tales of interesting people and places. Near or far, big or small, your story of the places you’ve been, and the kit that’s gone with you, could win you £6000 towards a travel holiday, and £500 of Craghopper clothing.
Check out the website for full details and conditions – the contest closes on 30/07/2018.
Here’s to adventure tales.