My secret weapon to living my real life? Solvitur Ambulando.

When you flick through the photo albums in your mind what are the pictures that make you smile?

This is one of my favourites. It was of my birthday a couple of years ago and we were on a local trail in Sydney (the Karloo Track), at the time just an hour from home.

A lot of my favourite things and the perfect gift.

My people, the Australian bush, adventure, a chance to slip into my 20 year old hiking boots and the real world.

‘Solvitur Ambulando’ (Latin) – it is solved by walking. The response by B.C. Greek philosopher Diogenes to the question ‘is motion real’?

A year or so before this shot I found myself in a big, bustling, competitive, noisy life. It was a lonely place and it didn’t feel like my ‘real’ life.

One day, I sold all the high heeled boots that sat in my wardrobe. I sold them to someone who needed them for their life – I didn’t anymore.

I uncovered my hiking boots at the back of that wardrobe. The mere sight of them was enough to flood my mind with images and thoughts that reminded me of ‘me’. Memories that make me smile and feel glad.

I started walking again in this style. Seeking out trails. I found solitude and peace in the mini adventures that could be found on my doorstep – taking my family with me.

With each step I found ways to solve the problems of big, noise, hustle and competition as they pertained to our life. It was a way back to living creatively. 

To seek answers to how things could be done differently.

The silence and motion of hiking (walking) gives me space to think and a way in (to myself). The trees heal. I see it time and time again when my kids set out on the trail too.

Do I feel like each day I’m living my real life these days? Yep. Of course I’m not immune to the everyday stresses and all the normal emotions but I do have a secret weapon that keeps it all in check – Solvitur ambulando.

What’s your secret weapon?





If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

Support crews are everything. One thing I learnt on the Oxfam Australia Trailwalker (100kms).

Where would we be without our support crews, our champions?

I am a bit of a solo sailor. My circle isn’t big but it’s built with real stuff. That’s what we need to move forward, to accomplish things we never dreamed we were capable of isn’t it?

A support crew with champions (and a little space for fluidity as we change). An honest crew that supports, motivates, inspires and gets us. A crew that’s not competing with us nor expecting us to be who we’re not – the ones who contribute to us becoming who we are.

I think any story or life changing adventure is filled with champions. The kind words, the listening ear, the fist pump or hug that says you’ve got this, the friend who trains with you, the one who reminds you not to doubt yourself, the artists who inspire you and the people who take a chance on you.

It’s because I believe that every great story has champions that I’ve started a page to thank each and every one of mine. I want to recognise them as they walk through this door with me.

Katy from Salomon is a champion of this Camino Trek for One Girl  story. On behalf of Salomon she said yes to sponsoring my shoes for the hike.

A nice coincidence because I’ve been thinking about the importance of building a solid base from sturdy foundations. The confidence to hike over 800kms for charity over 30 nights, (with 4 kids at home) demands it. Foundations and shoes seem to fit well together don’t you think?

After my fourth child was born my sister invited me to be a part of an OXFAM trailwalker siblings crew. I am one of 4. It had been a while between adventures so excitedly I said ‘yes’. A 100km overnight trail walk for poverty. Of course I could do that – I wanted to do that – Jeez, I needed to do that. Say yes and then work it out as you go, that’s me.

Hmm…a bit like this project.

I can still recall the first time I went bush again. I’d been so busy growing babies and building a home that I hadn’t hiked alone for a number of years.

We took the Kokoda Trail Memorial Walk  and the 1,000 steps in the Dandenong ranges for our first training walk. It was so peaceful, blissful actually. (Mind you that track can be mad busy so thankfully we were hiking ‘off peak’.)

I distinctly remember the sound of the birds singing and thinking ‘I’ve really missed this’. Somewhere amongst the busyness of life I’d forgotten that that sound existed.

At that time I had two young kids at home and two at school so training wasn’t as simple as walking out the front door. I knew that if I didn’t train I wouldn’t be able to complete the trail. I needed walk fitness.

I hired a treadmill and I trained most days at home (10kms fast walking) while the baby slept and Lucas who was 4 at the time watched Fireman Sam on an iPad next to me. On the weekends I’d do a long walk with my sister or a friend.  The first long walk was about 25kms and afterwards I felt like my legs were on fire. I wondered how the heck I was going to do 100km.

 

 

And then I did! (I did it in Salomon’s too – excellent synchronicity, right?)

That was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learnt just how  mentally strong I was, I lost a load of baby weight, I gained a ton of confidence and I was back in the adventure zone – moving and challenging myself. I may have pissed my sister off a little as I do like to hike hard (24 hours of hiking is emotional). Don’t worry she forgave me and has since become a harder hiker than me – she met Everest Base Camp earlier this year.

I swore never again – the blisters (my feet are prone and a few rookie mistakes but thankfully I’ve learnt to prevent and manage them early now). After a few days I decided I’d go again the next year with the goal of coming in under 24hrs – we came in at 23 hrs 46 mins (in the same shoes).

Neither of those treks would have happened without support. Our one man crew who had hot meals waiting at each rest stop, the cuppas, the tent he’d set up for our 2hr, 2am kip – the kip that I credit with giving us the energy to hike it in under 24hrs.  The parents who babysat the kids and brought the baby to our dinner spot for him to  have his breastfeed before bed.

Of course we all have to walk to the finish line ourselves but support crews get us over it. More importantly, our support crews get us to the start of the line.

Those three standing in the photo with me got me to the start and the finish. They came along for the 24hr ride. Through the highs and lows of emotions,  the aches, the pains and they jogged the last couple of kms so that we could achieve our goal.

I’m not sure that under 24hrs was as important to them as it was to me so I am still in awe of each of them. I have since mellowed my competitive approach to beating times.

Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true. When I summited Mt. Mulhacén this year…I may have trail ran down the mountain trying to beat my husbands time from the day before. I did. I’m can be a tiny bit competitive, not in the Camino though  – different kind of walk. 

Thank you Salomon for being in my support crew. I’m glad you’re part of the foundations. I will now donate the money I would have spent on shoes to my One Girl fundraiser and we’ll be close to getting two girls educated next year.

My mum always said when I was a troublesome teenager that I’d end up ok because my base was strong. She was right. Annoyingly, mums often are. Mine was. I’m more than ok, she knows me well.

As I continue to water this seed of inspiration by creating this project. I’m starting by building a solid base with strong foundations and a supportive crew.

Hiking tales really are a metaphor for life aren’t they?

We don’t all want to hike 800kms and the OXFAM Trailwalker can be done in a more leisurely 48hrs and at a shorter distance of 50kms, any kind of walk is worthwhile because hearing the birds sing – well, that’s something worth remembering – don’t you think?

 

 

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camino Frances 2018 for One Girl – 769kms and 30’ish nights. Why?

In 2018 I am going to hike the 769 kms of the Camino Frances. I know what you’re thinking – but nope, it’s  not because it’s named Frances. Although I do quite like that coincidence.

It’s because one day at the end of 2016 my (then) 10 year old daughter Zoë and I sat in the audience of a presentation from Morgan Koegal, CEO of One Girl at the Travel Play Live/She Went Wild Expo and she said,

‘when something feels wrong in your gut – do something about it’.

So we did.

In a concentrated two-week school raffle with ethical and sustainable prizes we raised enough money to educate 8 girls for a year.

It was the end of the school year, the lead in time was short and we were absolutely blown away by the kindness and generous spirit of our sponsors, community, family and friends.

I watched in awe and stood beside my ‘one girl’, who, together with her friends, stood up for girls who don’t share the same privilege and freedom. I learnt something from those 10 year olds.

I learnt that being paralysed by my own guilt of privilege and fear of standing up, of speaking up doesn’t sit right in my gut anymore.

So, I needed to find a way that that I could stand up, a way to use my voice. Eventually, after asking myself a lot of questions and trying a few things on for size this project was born.

The Camino Frances 2018. I’m taking the Way of St. James, and I’m taking it on for One Girl.

I’ll start at the base of the Pyrenees in the French medieval town of St Jean-Pied-du-Port in April 2018 and end in the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostella sometime in May 2018.

I’ll share it – the lead up, the learning to create a project, the good bits, the fellow pilgrims I meet on the trail, the hard stuff and I promise – not the gross stuff. No one wants to see blistered feet.

Ok, just quietly, lean in because I’m whispering here – ‘I think I’ll hike the extra 121kms to Finisterre to take a soak in the ocean, the most westerly point of Spain. That truly does seem like a beautiful way to honour the 769kms, don’t you think? ‘

Traditionally, pilgrims took the route for religious reasons and now as Leslie Gilmour (pilgrim and writer) says ‘modern Pilgrimages seem to be a lot less about religion and more about peace, finding something in life, a time to think, and for some a challenge.’

I’m a modern pilgrim. For me it’s the challenge, the adventure.

I have a great love of hiking. Not only the physical and mental challenge but also the spirituality and clarity that comes from the silence, movement and the freedom (head-space) of walking outdoors.

More that that I have a hunger to find a way to contribute creatively. To combine my love of adventure with charity and encourage others to get ‘busy’ with the good stuff like getting on the trail.

I want to share a different story about travel, to give a shit about something bigger than my discomfort and to show my kids that standing for something matters.

My pilgrimage has already started. Having recently taken on the role of  Ambassador for One Girl, I am writing a new story.

A story of how I contribute to the online space and to answer the call of my gut. Girls being denied an opportunity to go to school, simply because they are born a girl – that’s why.

BECAUSE for these girls – Education changes everything.

‘A girl’s income increases by at least 10% for every year she stays in school. She’ll get married later and have a smaller, healthier family when she’s ready. Her health, economic status, and future family all benefit.’ – One Girl.

So if your gut doesn’t feel right, together we can create a new story for the girls of Sierra Leone and Uganda. Come along and let’s see what we can do with a gut feeling.

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

 

Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

 

 

 

 

Stick with the journey, you will arrive anyhow. Hiking tales from Mt. Mulhacén.

I have written a lot about hiking to the summit of Mt. Mulhacén in the past few months.

It was one of those hikes that shows you life. It pushed me to both ends of my emotions. I think that’s the addiction love of hiking for me.

The contentment and space in the solitude, the wonder of the landscape and animal life and the intensity that can also bring me to tears.

On the trail is where my truths are revealed and my courage is built. One foot in front of the other.

I got my first ‘no’ today. It was an accommodation booking website that I approached for sponsorship.

Ever since I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to smile in the face of rejection. Today, I had my chance.

While hiking the Camino Frances I’m planning to stay in Albergues, the Pilgrim Hostels (pilgrim style). These are dormitory style rooms and they cost between €5 -15 per night. So thirty nights is a max of €450.

If ‘said company’ sponsored my accomodation via an Australian Tax Deductible donation to my fundraiser I would list their logo and name on every Instagram post, blog post, front page of the website, and promote it all write ups and press that I may do for the entire trek, training included – the entire journey.

I would then cover my accomodation costs knowing that through the sponsorship donation two girls would receive an education. An opportunity that will literally change their lives. Which is a normal kind of exchange for sponsorship right? I’m learning here, sponsorship101.

Anyway, they don’t have the budget which I completely understand. I’m just so happy they responded. But, if they need an influencer in the future they will think of me.

Which is funny because I am not an influencer, just a shit giver. Can a generation X ever use to the word influencer, eh I’m not sure. I like the notion of inspiration but also I like that we think for ourselves not that we are influenced.

So I’ve printed that no and I’m going to keep a big pile of all the no’s (I might even keep a count). I smiled because rejection means that I’m trying. I’m in the ring…putting myself out there. Creating.

Then I did what anyone training for a big adventure would do. I listened to Sia’s ‘You can do anything’ and went for a hike in the forest.

Of course I was rewarded. The ancient woods reminded me that nothing grows overnight. But, once established it will continue to grow. Two truths right there.

Mulhacén – the details (in case you’re interested):

Mt. Mulhacén (3479m) is in the Sierra Nevada range in the Southern Spanish region of The Alpujarras It’s the highest peak on mainland Spain and rivals Mont Blanc and Mount Etna topographically. It’s named after Muley Hacén a 15th century ruler, who, legend has it is buried on the mountain peak.

The closest city is Granada (which we loved, very cool city, think Alhambra – long history) and there are many different routes to climb the mountain. The Sierra Nevada guides have put together a good post here to get your research started.

We stayed in the village of  Trevélez and camped at Camping Trevélez. In 4 months of travel Ricardo and Alexandra the owners and avid mountain climbers, were our favourites. Their wall of fame of hiking photos is inspirational. They have a variety of accommodation to choose from and we loved eating in their (family kitchen) restaurant. We found them in our Lonely Planet.

We wrote this little note as we drove out.  Oops! We still have two post cards here to send you Ricardo. (Psst. there’s a traditional garlic, egg free mayonaisse recipe in that note – delicious.)

The village has many smaller hikes. A market, handcraft stalls and many bars where you can sample the famous serrano ham. It is also  home to Cortijos Alberquilla, one of the largest organic goat and cheese farms.

It was a tough 10 hour hike from the village via Las Siete Lagunas, the seven glacial lakes set in the mountains. My legs cramped at the summit and my knees buckled by the end of the relentless downhill and I’ve since lost toe nails but it was worth every minute.

I took so many blissful, deep breaths as I gazed across the open valleys while the sun was rising. For the most part it was a solo hike but I enjoyed moments in the company and kindness of fellow hikers. There was a brief moment of magic as a mountain goat showed me a way across the river and of course the deep satisfaction of doing it on my own and the pushing through when it got tough.

The summit. That was a spectacular accomplishment but I only spent 10 minutes up there between the cramping and the freezing cold wind (take warm stuff – altitude my friends). I was keen to get back to the the 9hr and 50mins I would spent on the trail that day.

The journey isn’t always lovely, nope – some hikes are damn hard, uncomfortable and they can hurt, a bit like life.

But, when the good stuff happens. The moments you notice, the love you feel, the strength you dig into that’s yours – that you built, the truths that reveal themselves, the people who make everything meaningful – that’s the sweet stuff.

I was humbled by my experience hiking on Mt. Mulhacén and I’m stronger because of it. I will return to Trevélez one day because I have my eye on Veleta (3398 m) and Citadel (3366 m).

We are also planning to hike our kids up to the summit with an overnight camp at Las Siete Lagunas – they just need to grow their hiking legs a little first.

So many wonderful memories from this 4 day stay in this special region and village in Spain. If you’re a mountain lover – do visit and please say the warmest hello to Ricardo and Alexandra for us. They are beautiful people living life with BIG love.

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

 

Today One Girl can be educated and her life will change. Thank you Kimberly.

I’ve never met Kimberly face to face but today she did something that inspired the shit out of me.

We’ve talked on Instagram. We’ve shared book titles, swooned over each other’s hiking shots and our plans to live life a little differently.

Mostly, she shares generous words and she makes my heart swell with her warmth. Kim has a kind soul. Continue reading Today One Girl can be educated and her life will change. Thank you Kimberly.

A commitment to adventure, kindness, travel and charity.

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