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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)

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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.” Nomadicmatt.com

“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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About Betsy

Betsy Talbot can't live without a Moleskine notebook, her passport, and happy hour. She sold everything she owned to travel the world with her husband Warren in 2010, and she's been enjoying her midlife crisis ever since. Betsy writes about creating the life you want from the life you already have in her books and on the Married with Luggage website. Drop her an email at btalbot (at) marriedwithluggage (dot) com and check out her Google+ page.

Comments

  1. So excited for you! And a bit jealous that we can’t do the same just yet. Hopefully we’ll have some shorter hiking/camping trips here in Brazil these next few years. I just realized a few weeks ago how much I’ve missed camping and sleeping in a tent. It’s been too long.

    Best wishes for both of you! Can’t wait to read about it start to finish.

    • Thanks, Peg. We are so excited about this trip – even just picking out the right tent and gear was thrilling. Now let’s hope that holds through 509 km. :)

      Enjoy your hiking and camping in Brazil!

  2. So excited for you! And a bit jealous that we can’t do the same just yet. Hopefully we’ll have some shorter hiking/camping trips here in Brazil these next few years. I just realized a few weeks ago how much I’ve missed camping and sleeping in a tent. It’s been too long.

    Best wishes for both of you! Can’t wait to read about it start to finish.

    • Thanks, Peg. We are so excited about this trip – even just picking out the right tent and gear was thrilling. Now let’s hope that holds through 509 km. :)

      Enjoy your hiking and camping in Brazil!

  3. Very very cool! I can’t wait to read about your journey when you return; should be exciting!!

    Dan

    • Hi, Dan. We’re actually hoping for 1 rest day a week in a village, and if so we’ll have updates along the way. But we might just be too damn tired…who knows? Either way, we’ll have plenty of video and notes from the journey to share at the end. Stay tuned!

  4. Very very cool! I can’t wait to read about your journey when you return; should be exciting!!

    Dan

    • Hi, Dan. We’re actually hoping for 1 rest day a week in a village, and if so we’ll have updates along the way. But we might just be too damn tired…who knows? Either way, we’ll have plenty of video and notes from the journey to share at the end. Stay tuned!

  5. You will have an amazing time! (After your feet get done being sore). I am so utterly impressed and can’t wait to follow along. Happy trekking…and don’t worry about the pace, it will take care of itself as you go.

    • Hi, Shelby. If we run into a disaster, we’ll send a smoke signal, okay? :) We’re excited and just a little bit nervous. We found a guy online who’s done part of it and took videos along the way, and he just so happens to live in Scotland near where we’ll be house sitting this summer. Perhaps if we buy him some beers he’ll share some stories.

  6. You will have an amazing time! (After your feet get done being sore). I am so utterly impressed and can’t wait to follow along. Happy trekking…and don’t worry about the pace, it will take care of itself as you go.

    • Hi, Shelby. If we run into a disaster, we’ll send a smoke signal, okay? :) We’re excited and just a little bit nervous. We found a guy online who’s done part of it and took videos along the way, and he just so happens to live in Scotland near where we’ll be house sitting this summer. Perhaps if we buy him some beers he’ll share some stories.

  7. Betsy, what wonderful insight to a challenging adventure, bravely shared, rational fears, and why you’re not letting them hold you back. As usual, you’re an inspiration. Looking forward to hearing about the trek and everything you encounter throughout the process.

    • Hey, Brianna. We are really excited about this. The fears are natural, we think, and will lessen as we continue making progress. THat’s the trick, isn’t it? Keep moving forward and your fears will continue backing away. Stupid fears. :)

  8. Betsy, what wonderful insight to a challenging adventure, bravely shared, rational fears, and why you’re not letting them hold you back. As usual, you’re an inspiration. Looking forward to hearing about the trek and everything you encounter throughout the process.

    • Hey, Brianna. We are really excited about this. The fears are natural, we think, and will lessen as we continue making progress. THat’s the trick, isn’t it? Keep moving forward and your fears will continue backing away. Stupid fears. :)

  9. Sounds like an incredible trip. Can’t wait to hear more about it.

  10. Sounds like an incredible trip. Can’t wait to hear more about it.

  11. You two are so brave. Take it on…I don’t know if I could!

  12. You two are so brave. Take it on…I don’t know if I could!

  13. Wow 300 miles! Makes me tired just thinking about it!
    I was always really fit when I was younger- meeting Mike pushed me over the chubby edge. Before I met him I did the Lares Trek in Peru – challenging yes, but I was fit. We’ve since done small hikes but now that I was a bit heavier, and feeling spoiled, I complained more and dragged ass behind Mike. Now, I’m throwing off that extra weight and saying hello to the ‘old’ me that I felt comfortable with. Maybe we will lucky enough to score an invite on a portion of your walk with you guys! We do absolutely love camping- and hanging out with yall!
    We finish our housesit 28th of September- 1 day after my birthday!

    • Hi, Mica. That extra weight (even just a little bit!) does drag you down, doesn’t it? I have about 10 pounds to lose to feel light enough to do this trek, though I have some muscle building in my core and upper body to do, too. It will make carrying that pack a whole lot easier!

      Good luck to you on getting back into “fighting shape” and taking off on more adventures with Mike. And hey, maybe we should plan a camping trip in the near future. That would be fun!

  14. You got this! I can’t wait to hear not only about the adventure itself, but the life lessons learned along the way. Remember – you’re stronger than you think you are. I’m so proud of you for embracing this opportunity and facing your fears head-on. Amazing growth happens when we live a little outside our comfort zone.

    Hike on!

    • Hi, Debbie. Thanks for the encouragement! As you mentioned, it’s the life lessons we’re most looking forward to. Who knows what 509 km of thinking and experiencing will produce?

  15. You got this! I can’t wait to hear not only about the adventure itself, but the life lessons learned along the way. Remember – you’re stronger than you think you are. I’m so proud of you for embracing this opportunity and facing your fears head-on. Amazing growth happens when we live a little outside our comfort zone.

    Hike on!

    • Hi, Debbie. Thanks for the encouragement! As you mentioned, it’s the life lessons we’re most looking forward to. Who knows what 509 km of thinking and experiencing will produce?

  16. Wow! I am so inspired. I thought I was brave to attempt skiing at 41 after a lifetime of resistance couched as disdain. And overcame a serious tantrum in the alps to make it down the hill. I’m in awe, and can’t wait to hear more about it.

  17. Wow! I am so inspired. I thought I was brave to attempt skiing at 41 after a lifetime of resistance couched as disdain. And overcame a serious tantrum in the alps to make it down the hill. I’m in awe, and can’t wait to hear more about it.

  18. Wow 300 miles! Makes me tired just thinking about it!
    I was always really fit when I was younger- meeting Mike pushed me over the chubby edge. Before I met him I did the Lares Trek in Peru – challenging yes, but I was fit. We’ve since done small hikes but now that I was a bit heavier, and feeling spoiled, I complained more and dragged ass behind Mike. Now, I’m throwing off that extra weight and saying hello to the ‘old’ me that I felt comfortable with. Maybe we will lucky enough to score an invite on a portion of your walk with you guys! We do absolutely love camping- and hanging out with yall!
    We finish our housesit 28th of September- 1 day after my birthday!

    • Hi, Mica. That extra weight (even just a little bit!) does drag you down, doesn’t it? I have about 10 pounds to lose to feel light enough to do this trek, though I have some muscle building in my core and upper body to do, too. It will make carrying that pack a whole lot easier!

      Good luck to you on getting back into “fighting shape” and taking off on more adventures with Mike. And hey, maybe we should plan a camping trip in the near future. That would be fun!

  19. Sounds like you have a fantastic rest of 2013 coming up! You know, I have been reading Colin Fletcher’s “The Man Who Walked Through Time”. He walked the Grand Canyon back in 1963, by himself. He commented about getting into the pace of nature, and he said this: “I heard and understood and accepted with my whole being what I had begun to hear and understand at the foot of Bass Trail. I accepted, totally, that the world of the rocks, like all the other world we know, is dynamic. For now its rhythm was as real to me as the regular beat of the seconds that ticked past on my wrist watch. In fact, when I stopped to consider the matter, I discovered to my surprise that its rhythm was for the moment more real to me than the rhythm of the civilization that was presumably still going on in the world beyond the Rim.”

    • Julie, that gives me goose bumps! That connection with nature and with myself is what I’m looking for. I will find Colin Fletcher’s book and add it to my reading list. Thank you for the recommendation.

  20. Sounds like you have a fantastic rest of 2013 coming up! You know, I have been reading Colin Fletcher’s “The Man Who Walked Through Time”. He walked the Grand Canyon back in 1963, by himself. He commented about getting into the pace of nature, and he said this: “I heard and understood and accepted with my whole being what I had begun to hear and understand at the foot of Bass Trail. I accepted, totally, that the world of the rocks, like all the other world we know, is dynamic. For now its rhythm was as real to me as the regular beat of the seconds that ticked past on my wrist watch. In fact, when I stopped to consider the matter, I discovered to my surprise that its rhythm was for the moment more real to me than the rhythm of the civilization that was presumably still going on in the world beyond the Rim.”

    • Julie, that gives me goose bumps! That connection with nature and with myself is what I’m looking for. I will find Colin Fletcher’s book and add it to my reading list. Thank you for the recommendation.

  21. long daily hikes, working on core muscles/upper body strength, and Warren putting on a few pounds are things I’d never have considered before such a trek. You guys always give me so much to think about.

    You’ll push thru your angst of being off-line and we’ll be here waiting to read your adventure details… just don’t forget that moleskin and a pen. ;-)

    • Hey, Maria. We can’t help it – action is hard-coded into our DNA. We can’t “not” do something, and since we have a few months to wait, it makes sense to buff ourselves up a bit in the meantime.

      And don’t you worry about the Moelskine (though I’m actually using the last of my stock of notebooks we bought in China for 30 cents each). I’ll always have one with me!

  22. long daily hikes, working on core muscles/upper body strength, and Warren putting on a few pounds are things I’d never have considered before such a trek. You guys always give me so much to think about.

    You’ll push thru your angst of being off-line and we’ll be here waiting to read your adventure details… just don’t forget that moleskin and a pen. ;-)

    • Hey, Maria. We can’t help it – action is hard-coded into our DNA. We can’t “not” do something, and since we have a few months to wait, it makes sense to buff ourselves up a bit in the meantime.

      And don’t you worry about the Moelskine (though I’m actually using the last of my stock of notebooks we bought in China for 30 cents each). I’ll always have one with me!

  23. Hi Betsy,

    So many logistics, So much planning, soo exciting….

    I have a wonderful little gem for you and anyone else doing long trails and that is “New Zealand Hikers Wool” http://www.hikerswool.co.nz/. ( for the record I’m not associated in any way)

    It is nothing short of amazing, I take it on every trail and mostly give it away to other blistered feet!

    Will be following your trail…

    • Jo, this is a great tip! And we’ll be in Germany soon and can get some there. We were already planning on packing blister pads, and I’m excited to try these out. A really bad blister can ruin a good walk – thanks for the tip!

  24. Hi Betsy,

    So many logistics, So much planning, soo exciting….

    I have a wonderful little gem for you and anyone else doing long trails and that is “New Zealand Hikers Wool” http://www.hikerswool.co.nz/. ( for the record I’m not associated in any way)

    It is nothing short of amazing, I take it on every trail and mostly give it away to other blistered feet!

    Will be following your trail…

    • Jo, this is a great tip! And we’ll be in Germany soon and can get some there. We were already planning on packing blister pads, and I’m excited to try these out. A really bad blister can ruin a good walk – thanks for the tip!

  25. Way to go! What I found (as a 48-year-old mom who set out to ride a bike from Alaska to Argentina) was that it’s way more mental than it is physical. If you have made the decision that you really, truly want to accomplish it, then you will. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. Enjoy the preparation!

    • Nancy, your adventure is certainly one for the record books. We guessed that it was going to be more mental than physical, and stories of success like yours, Torre DeRoche’s, or Cheryl Strayed’s are great motivators. Thanks for leading the way!

  26. Way to go! What I found (as a 48-year-old mom who set out to ride a bike from Alaska to Argentina) was that it’s way more mental than it is physical. If you have made the decision that you really, truly want to accomplish it, then you will. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. Enjoy the preparation!

    • Nancy, your adventure is certainly one for the record books. We guessed that it was going to be more mental than physical, and stories of success like yours, Torre DeRoche’s, or Cheryl Strayed’s are great motivators. Thanks for leading the way!

  27. Go Betsy.. go Betsy.. go. go.. GO! I’m so happy to hear you’re doing this. Very inspirational. I’m not much of a hiker but I’d like to give it another go someday.. :)

  28. Go Betsy.. go Betsy.. go. go.. GO! I’m so happy to hear you’re doing this. Very inspirational. I’m not much of a hiker but I’d like to give it another go someday.. :)

  29. Of course you have checked into the safety issues with bandits when you don’t have a guide in that part of Turkey right? Know someone who was robbed and beaten on the Lycian Way 2 years ago. Please check this out for your own safety.

    • Thanks for your concern, Sindy. Bad things happen all over the world, including our home country, so we take the basic safety precautions and then just get on with it. Everything comes with some level of risk…even staying home.

  30. Of course you have checked into the safety issues with bandits when you don’t have a guide in that part of Turkey right? Know someone who was robbed and beaten on the Lycian Way 2 years ago. Please check this out for your own safety.

    • Thanks for your concern, Sindy. Bad things happen all over the world, including our home country, so we take the basic safety precautions and then just get on with it. Everything comes with some level of risk…even staying home.

  31. What an incredible challenge Betsy. I’ve been hiking for quite a while now and would still be pretty terrified of a 25 day expedition, you’re both very brave for pushing your physical limits. Best of luck and I can’t wait to read about it!

    • Thanks, Maddie. It’s going to be a challenge for sure (even getting it done in 25 days, if you ask me). One of our friends just finished walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain yesterday, and reading her account of the weeks of walking and reflecting has made me even more excited for this challenge.

  32. What an incredible challenge Betsy. I’ve been hiking for quite a while now and would still be pretty terrified of a 25 day expedition, you’re both very brave for pushing your physical limits. Best of luck and I can’t wait to read about it!

    • Thanks, Maddie. It’s going to be a challenge for sure (even getting it done in 25 days, if you ask me). One of our friends just finished walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain yesterday, and reading her account of the weeks of walking and reflecting has made me even more excited for this challenge.

  33. I am looking forward to reading about this adventure. We’ve only done one multi-day hike and it was a baby hike compared to what you’ve done — a 4 night guided “hike” on the Milford Track in New Zealand when I was 48. Only 35 miles. Only one mountain. No snakes nor bears — only larcenous alpine parrots (keas). That was 11 years ago. My mind would still love to do a multi-day hike, but I’ve had to have IV infusions for osteoporosis, so I suppose it would be foolhardy, but still…….

    • Hi, Suzanne. Your adventure in New Zealand sounds fantastic! I don’t think I’d mind being “robbed” by parrots – what a great story. We were just talking on a podcast recording today about everyone’s definition of boldness being different and why it’s important to recognize what you offer to other people. Your bold is someone else’s every day (like the guide in your story), but your everyday is also someone else’s definition of bold. It’s a nice way to think about the circle of influence. :)

  34. I am looking forward to reading about this adventure. We’ve only done one multi-day hike and it was a baby hike compared to what you’ve done — a 4 night guided “hike” on the Milford Track in New Zealand when I was 48. Only 35 miles. Only one mountain. No snakes nor bears — only larcenous alpine parrots (keas). That was 11 years ago. My mind would still love to do a multi-day hike, but I’ve had to have IV infusions for osteoporosis, so I suppose it would be foolhardy, but still…….

    • Hi, Suzanne. Your adventure in New Zealand sounds fantastic! I don’t think I’d mind being “robbed” by parrots – what a great story. We were just talking on a podcast recording today about everyone’s definition of boldness being different and why it’s important to recognize what you offer to other people. Your bold is someone else’s every day (like the guide in your story), but your everyday is also someone else’s definition of bold. It’s a nice way to think about the circle of influence. :)

  35. How exciting! It is definitely natural to be scared. Good for you guys for pushing your limits!

    I remember pushing myself to my mental limit once when I took on a job I had absolutely no skills or knowledge in. Needless to say, my stubbroness paid off because I ended up rocking it!

    Can’t wait to read more of your adventures!

    • Hey Sarah. What a great result! I think persistence is the answer to most things in life – we all have a tendency to give up too easily. Stubbornness can be a very good quality, as you well know!

  36. How exciting! It is definitely natural to be scared. Good for you guys for pushing your limits!

    I remember pushing myself to my mental limit once when I took on a job I had absolutely no skills or knowledge in. Needless to say, my stubbroness paid off because I ended up rocking it!

    Can’t wait to read more of your adventures!

    • Hey Sarah. What a great result! I think persistence is the answer to most things in life – we all have a tendency to give up too easily. Stubbornness can be a very good quality, as you well know!

  37. OKAY–All your hiking adventures sound amazing! I haven’t had the chance to hike or camp much through out the world–so your stories are inspirational. Can’t wait to read about this next trek!

  38. OKAY–All your hiking adventures sound amazing! I haven’t had the chance to hike or camp much through out the world–so your stories are inspirational. Can’t wait to read about this next trek!

  39. What a great insight into an intrepid adventure! Here’s to you for taking a giant leap out of your comfort zone! Facing your fears can be a challenge but it’s health to push the envelope and try new things! All the best for the next leg of your travels.

  40. What a great insight into an intrepid adventure! Here’s to you for taking a giant leap out of your comfort zone! Facing your fears can be a challenge but it’s health to push the envelope and try new things! All the best for the next leg of your travels.

  41. So an exciting trip. I like hiking lot.. i spent 128 days walking in Himalayas of Nepal in 2011 alone.Keep on posting , look forward to read more…

  42. So an exciting trip. I like hiking lot.. i spent 128 days walking in Himalayas of Nepal in 2011 alone.Keep on posting , look forward to read more…

  43. you seem so fit! I was also scared when I walked 800km without a guide in the Philippines.. my only ‘guide’ was my walking partner (and now boyfriend) who is a local. Everything turned out fine though. You’ll be fine! Food tip: we survived with honey. It’s a superfood with lots of nutrients and also helps with hunger.

  44. you seem so fit! I was also scared when I walked 800km without a guide in the Philippines.. my only ‘guide’ was my walking partner (and now boyfriend) who is a local. Everything turned out fine though. You’ll be fine! Food tip: we survived with honey. It’s a superfood with lots of nutrients and also helps with hunger.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] trapped inside the body of a middle-aged woman, and this year I’m breaking free.” Read the post – By Married with [...]

  2. [...] trapped inside the body of a middle-aged woman, and this year I’m breaking free.” Read the post – By Married with [...]

  3. [...] mentioned in the past we are planning to do some big hikes this year, culminating in our 509km (300 mile) trek in Turkey. Because we knew that hiking gear would be much more expensive in Europe we decided to go ahead and [...]

  4. [...] mentioned in the past we are planning to do some big hikes this year, culminating in our 509km (300 mile) trek in Turkey. Because we knew that hiking gear would be much more expensive in Europe we decided to go ahead and [...]

  5. […] #7: “I’m not X.” (athletic, smart, attractive, etc.) For years I said I wasn’t an athlete. This week we finished walking 150 km with packs and tents for a week in Scotland. If you stop worrying about what you aren’t and simply pursue the activities that interest you, you’ll often be surprised at how it turns out. You may not be X right now, but you very well could be in the future. But only if you start. […]

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