Our first story or link to a story on here was written about our latest adventure, but there’s a back story behind how a family with three small children, take their nephew and travel to what most would consider a less then ‘child friendly’ destination. And so really, I should start at the beginning…
I have been hiking since I was 17 years old. Full disclosure, it was a love/hate relationship at first. It started on a 22 day Outward Bound Australia Challenge Course in the ACT. I hated it so much, I considered breaking my own arm to get out of completing it. I dragged myself through the experience until the day my team and I got to the top of Mt Morgan. A goal that we were told was unattainable due to time constraints. There’s nothing more motivating than being told you can’t do something, so we dug deep, we walked as a pack, encouraged each other and we made it!
That moment, of being on top and having achieved the impossible with my team, was such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that I cried. I was wrung out, emotional, and I stunk. But I was also ecstatic, thrilled to be where I was in that moment. Everything I’d been through to get there, all of it forgotten. I was on top of the highest mountain I had ever climbed!
It is that feeling that I have chased ever since. Six months later I ‘bagged’ Everest Basecamp (5,545m). I was 18 years old. While in Nepal I read ‘Seven Summits’ by Dick Bass, and vowed to, if not climb them all, at least go see them. And so my hate turned into an ache. I ached now, not from carrying a fully loaded pack up down and across mountains all day, not from the cold or being hungry or from having sore feet or hips from sleeping on the ground. No, now I ached to be uncomfortable, fully loaded on a dirt path on my way to more amazing views. ‘Peak baggin’ (climbing mountains because they are there) and hiking new tracks – that’s where I was heading and I wanted to see it all.
It took me a few years to figure out what the challenge course taught me (slow learner). I eventually made my way back there and got a job. But not before I had circumnavigated the world. I set out in my career as an outdoor instructor to make a difference to at least one person’s life – in the same way mine had been changed. This was the beginning of my mission to share my love of the ‘journey’, the outdoors, the confidence and independence that comes with it and to surround myself with like minded people.
Here I learnt most of what I needed to know about leading in the outdoors. I learned and practiced experiential education and facilitated groups through these life changing experiences. I worked and hiked all over Australia and eventually I instructed a 22 day Challenge Course! This for me, was my greatest success. Possibly the biggest mountain I had climbed by the time I was 23 years old.
I met Anthony (Nicho) at Outward Bound Australia – he was my mentor on my very first course. To this day, he is still one of the best outdoor educators I have worked with. There were sparks when we met but that’s a story for a cold night around a campfire. And the story of how I came to be on that 22 day Challenge Course in the first place…well, you’d have to come hiking with me to hear that one.