24 April 2020 by Olly Hicks-Pattison
For the past year I have been planning for six months of adventure. Starting in April I was due to walk the Cape Wrath trail in Scotland, the Tour du Mont Blanc, the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, and spend a good chunk of time in Norway and Sweden on walking adventures.
These plans are now on hold and for the foreseeable future I’m not allowed out of a one bedroom flat in Hackney. It might be an understatement to say that this is not how I saw my summer unfolding!
What is adventure…
However, the lockdown has given me time to sit down and think about my plans, why I planned them, and what exactly adventure means to me.
My plans were definitely based around Instagram shots of Mont Blanc dappled in an orange glow, a tent in the wilderness lit up under a blanket of stars, and people standing on the troll tongue overlooking lake Ringedalsvatnet.
But when it comes down to it, adventure doesn't need to depend on these honey pot locations and classic adventure shots. Turning to Alastair Humphreys, in the opening to his book on micro-adventures, he describes adventure as ‘a state of mind, a spirit of trying something new and leaving your comfort zone. It’s about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity’.
And that’s where the idea for adventures at home started.
Adventuring at home
As children, adventuring came easy. With a little bit of curiosity, and a dash of imagination, anything was worthy of exploring - but as adults we forget our innate ability to create our own adventures.
Pondering this while sat among all the camping gear that I had accumulated for the summer, I decided to set it up in my living room. It’s amazing how big a two-person tent is in a room not much bigger than it! Zipping up the tent instantly transported me to my last adventure into the outdoors and helped me to arrive in my current one! Just like that, I was in the Dolomites.
Coming out the tent to see my dining room table, on the other hand, slightly ruined my buzz so, with the dolomites in mind, I gathered all the spare cardboard I could find and a pot of left-over ceiling paint, and set about building my own mountain range. This turned into a full day of exploring mountain ranges for inspiration and figuring out what my ideal view looks like.
The next step was to obviously go climbing! The mountain is about 6 feet tall, so is not much of a challenge, but I spent a good afternoon recreating classic Instagram poses and doing exactly what I would be doing out on in the shadow of Mont Blanc, just in my flat.
Discovering what I like about adventuring
My Dolomites trip filled an entire weekend and satisfied my need for adventure (for now at least!). Turning my flat upside down to recreate the conditions for a camp in the mountains ticked all the boxes. However, I realised that I’d made no attempt to actually do any walking. Especially given that so many people across social media are currently completing marathons and mountain climbs in much smaller spaces than I’m in!
Taking the time to escape into my tent, and into my own adventure, I realised that I planned all these challenging walks this year to take me out my comfort zone, to discover something new, to explore, and to escape. It turns out the challenge and the exercise just didn’t motivate me in the same way. And I'm okay with that!
So much adventure content is about pushing to be the best, to run the furthest and climb the highest. But after being forced to sit indoors and consider what I actually wanted, I discovered why adventures are important to me. For me it’s the newness and the freedom to allow my inner explorer to run wild through the outdoors. And even though it will never fully compare, it’s good to know I can still find the spirit of adventure without leaving Hackney!
Planning for the future
Given that we have a good few more weeks of being locked down (at least), I’ve been planning my next adventures. My balcony is almost the exact size of my sleeping mat, and I’ve never slept under the stars – we’re getting some incredible weather at the moment, so I might spend a night out there. We also received a vegetable delivery which came in a huge cardboard box, so there’s a good chance the mountain scene will gain a forest.
I will of course continue planning outdoors adventures for when this ends. But for now, escaping into my tent, within easy reach of my kitchen, is working nicely for me.
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