The Middle-Aged Adventurer

The Lycian Way in Turkey will be our fourth attempt at a multi-day hike. And lest you think that we’re old pros by now, let me tell you about the learning curve on the first three.

Is My Inexperience Showing?

Not the most stable of bridges

The first was a 2-day trek in the high Andean jungle in Ecuador. Our guide was a fearless Dane who liked to tell stories of giant snakes leaping over deep creek beds as we were walking through those same creek beds. As we were making our way to camp, the rain started falling and I slipped and fell on a giant rock in the previously dry creek bed. My hip turned purple and my shoulder was almost immobile. As a chunky gal with 2 thin men, I knew my odds of making it out on other than my own two feet were slim. That night as we slept in hammocks near the river, we awoke to the sounds and smells of a large animal peeing in the inky blackness. I couldn’t sleep after that, wondering if the animal was going to take a bite out of my ass from under the hammock.

Nature 1, Betsy 0.

Hiding out from the rain at the ruins

The second was a 4-day hike through the cloud forest in Northern Peru in 2011. We went with a small group and an experienced guide who made sure we had places to sleep, water to drink, and food to eat. We were still woefully unprepared, sloshing through a day of heavy rain and mud without proper boots or even a rain poncho. The ascents were steep, and the descents treacherous. I trailed the group every single day and cried in relief when I saw the van arrive 12 km earlier than expected for anyone who was spent. Past the point of shame, I threw my pack in the back of the van and sat, waving goodbye to Warren as he took the last 12 km on foot with the guide and 3 remaining brave souls in our group.

Nature 2, Betsy 0.

clear the path to happiness

The third time we took a multi-day hike was in Mongolia in 2012. We were fitter and more experienced than before, and we again had a guide. This time we also had a car. Our driver Sancho – who spoke as much English as we did Mongolian: none – knew we wanted to hike 100 km (60 miles). He’d drive us to a location, point the direction we should walk, and meet us about 25 km later, where we’d set up camp. We didn’t have to carry our supplies with us because he had them in the car. Mongolia is beautiful, and the path was mostly flat. Still, we depended on Sancho to direct us, hold our food and gear, and clear our path with the locals we met along the way. After 5 days, 3 blisters, and one half-ass bath in a stream near a herd of goats, we were happy to get back to civilization and showers. I’d call this encounter with Mother Nature even.

Betsy vs. Nature: Draw

The Lycian Way

In October we’ll be walking 509 km (300 miles) along the coast of Turkey from Fethiye to Antalya. The Lycian Way is supposed to take 25 days, but we’re giving ourselves 5 weeks (see three previous excursions to understand why).

We’ll be camping every night in a tent we just bought, resting in sleeping bags we haven’t even unpackaged yet, and charting our path via GPS and a poorly marked collection of walking trails and stony mule paths. We’ll be sourcing our own food and water along the way in a country where we don’t speak the language.

The elevation will go from sea level to the top of Mt. Olympos, which is 2365 meters (7760 feet). We’ll pass through ruins and ancient settlements and get our water from ancient wells. We hope to avoid snow at the higher elevations and extreme heat at the lower elevations by going in October, but there is no guarantee either way.

It’s our biggest physical challenge to date, and we’re doing it without a guide.

Why We’re Doing This

I’ve written before about how physical challenges help you process emotional fears and grow as a human being. This trek is the next logical step for us. If we were absolutely certain we could do it without any problem, it wouldn’t really be a challenge, would it?

Lately we’ve been reading stories of adventurous people who took on big challenges even though they didn’t have all the answers or even the assurance they could do it. Torre DeRoche sailed across the Pacific in a sailboat for love, even though she was terrified of the ocean (you can read about it in Love with a Chance of Drowning ). Cheryl Strayed wrote in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail about hiking for 1000 miles by herself, as woefully unprepared as we were for our first trek.

Over the summer we’ll be taking long daily hikes in preparation. I’m working on my core muscles and upper body strength, and Warren will actually be putting on a few pounds before we start because he doesn’t have any to spare. We’ve ordered our gear, and we’re doing a practice run with it all this summer in England as we walk Hadrian’s Wall for 5 days.

But still, 25 days to 5 weeks of walking every day with a backpack, sleeping in a tent, navigating by GPS, and finding food and water along the way is going to be a challenge.

  • I’m scared I won’t be able to keep up the pace.
  • I’m scared we’ll run out of water.
  • I’m scared I’ll fall and hurt myself.

And stupidly, I’m scared of being offline for that long and away from my books.

But I know if we can do this I’ll feel confident enough to take on the other great adventures I want to do but don’t feel ready for just yet. It’s a proving ground for me, a required step to gain admittance to the more remote areas of the world I want to see.

I’m an adventurer trapped inside the body of a middle-aged woman, and this year I’m breaking free. (Tweet this if you feel the same)

Find out how we’re preparing for this adventure in our weekly updates via the newsletter. You’ll get an original article every week, plus a more personal look into what we’re doing and our favorite websites/books/resources. Click here to sign up.

Love with a Chance of DrowningThis post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.”

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

Find out more…

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