Tackling one of Te Araroa’s dangers – river crossings

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Photo credit: Iain Gallagher from Lakes Outdoor Experience

The thought of walking 3,000km down the length of New Zealand is equal parts exciting and scary.

Exciting because it’s epic, it’s a challenge and it’s my home country. Scary because it’s seriously hard core, it’s epic, it’s a challenge and mentally I worry about it and whether I can do it.

I chose New Zealand (or rather New Zealand chose me) because it’s where I was born and grew up. In my head, that sits in my comfort zone. I’ve already done some multi-day walks there and experienced New Zealand’s great outdoors so, in my head, the Te Araroa trail sits in my comfort zone. I’ve got friends and family there, there are no dangerous animals like bears, nasty insects, reptiles or diseases. Right now, my comfort zone is so comfy.

When I think of #WalkNZ in these terms, I’m like yeah baby, I can do this.

And then I think of the river crossings. Continue reading

Facing my fear of kayaking – and not letting it hold me back from achieving my dreams

I’ve always been a little trepidatious when it came to kayaking.

Ever since high school when kayaking in the school swimming pool was a component of PE. Physical education, for a geeky teenager who could barely throw a ball to save herself, wasn’t great at the best of times, but the kayaking class was something else.

There I was sat in a kayak, locked in by the spray deck that covered me from the waist down, learning how to capsize and roll the kayak back up.

It didn’t go very well. Continue reading

Turning disaster and uncertainty into a silver lining

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I’ve realised I’m not that great with the unknown. It can be scary not knowing what’s around the corner or on the other side of that bank of cloud when you’re high up on a mountain.

When faced with the unknown or uncertainty when we’re out on an adventure, we often instantly jump to the worst-case scenario: imagining we might be stuck on a rock face with a 30m drop below, getting lost in the woods and never finding our way home, or falling off the side of a mountain when visibility drops. Continue reading

How I found my outdoor adventure mojo

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I’m actually pretty new to this hill walking and mountain climbing business – although I think I’ve always loved the idea of it but have just always found excuses why it wasn’t for me.

Well that all changed at the end of 2014: that’s when I found my outdoor adventure mojo and new-found passion of walking in the wilderness.

However, it wasn’t the best introduction – rather more like baptism by fire, to be honest.

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When the sun sets and you can’t find the path home

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“Seriously Del, we have to hurry up. The sun is setting and I have no idea where the start of the path down Devil’s Kitchen is.”

I left him to bumble about with his gloves and ice axe while I tentatively began a hasty and very steep descent of Glyder Fawr, a 1001m high mountain in Snowdonia, Wales.

The grey cloud that had enveloped the summit earlier had lifted somewhat showing off excellent views of the surrounding valleys and snow-capped mountains. But it also showed a brilliant orange orb hovering a little too close to the horizon.

We still had an ankle-breaking descent of about 300m to get to the little lake Llyn Y Cwm and from there we faced a craggy cliff face and vertiginous slope (Devil’s Kitchen – there is probably something in the name there) before finding relative safety in the valley. The only problem was it was starting to get dark and I didn’t know where exactly the path down the cliff face was. Continue reading

When not to give up

Say you’re running a marathon. You love running, you’ve trained hard and you’re running for a good cause, yet about halfway through you hit a wall – not literally but figuratively. Your energy levels slump, every movement creates a shockwave of pain radiating through your body, and your heart wants to leap out of your chest. Tears prick your eyes as the evil little thoughts start to infiltrate into your head – “You can’t do this,” they say. “You’re tired,” they say. “It’s ok to give up,” they say.

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Volcano number 2: The muddy volcano

The jungle on Nevis Peak
“That was your warm up. Now you climb.”
Those were the words of our buff 57-year-old guide as we stood in a scraggly jungle of moss-covered trees, vines and ferns, staring at a criss-cross ladder of tree roots that ascended heavenward. We’d been walking up hill for the past 20 or so minutes, going deeper into the thick lush bush that carpeted the slopes of the volcano dominating the small Caribbean island Nevis. If I wanted to get to the summit in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, then the only way was up.

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Why we are more awesome than we think we are

After writing my last post on being paralysed by fear, I was reminded by the boyfriend that four years ago I was s*** (his words) at camping.

A previously successful camping adventure
Yes I remember that first experience with him well – a long weekend just outside Oxford. I had camped a couple of times before – nothing too strenuous and I’d survived.
So in my head this was going to be a lovely drive in the countryside, and a couple of nights, cocooned in a cosy, little tent while the stars twinkled above us. It was still the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Camping; I couldn’t think of anything more romantic.
Until we arrived. It was October – and that was the problem.

Continue reading