[Again, this was drafted before we went… I’m a little late posting it, after the fact. More to tell soon…]

“It doesn’t sound like a holiday to me. Where is that? I hate the cold. Why don’t you go to Bali.

My boyfriend and I are going hiking in Patagonia; the region includes Southern Argentina and Southern Chile. It will be icy and windy. Very cold. But it one of the wild places on Earth. Beauty and extremes. Aqua lakes and rocky mountain peaks. Pumas and condors. It’s an adventure.

I’ve never done any hiking, not really. I did a couple of training hikes with “the guys” last year. A few hours up and down steep hills. They were preparing to hike the Kokoda Trail. Nothing could have prepared them.

We’re not expecting this to be that hard but still hard enough, six to eight hour days. Twenty kilometres a day in rocky terrain. Thankfully the glacial water is apparently clean. Water is heavy to carry. In these mountains it should be everywhere.

My improvised training program has involved walking at least an hour a day for the last five weeks. Recently I’ve been walking two hours most days with a loaded pack. It’s a lot of preparation for a two week period. Of that, only about eight days will be walking days but I think it’s worth it.

A lot of work

It is a lot of work but I think it’s worth it. What about you?

  • What would you like to do?
  • How much effort will it take?
  • Why is it worth it?
  • What do you need to do to make it happen?
  • What is the first step?

Adventures happen outside your comfort zone. They’re uncomfortable. They make your heart beat fast. They may involve danger. They always involve fear but that isn’t the same thing. Our over-zealous brains can convince us not to do anything scary. They keep us safe but bored.

Growing is worth the effort

I think it’s worth being uncomfortable. It’s the only way to grow and learn. Muscles break in order to grow. I wonder if we also break as we re-form. We become a new version of ourselves.

The journey is the point

We haven’t left yet but I’m learning a lot from this trip. Lots of exercise feels great. I am fitter and stronger than I thought I would be. Being physically strong makes me feel mentally strong. I realise tiredness is often stagnancy. I need to move, not collapse on the sofa and eat potato chips in front of the TV.

It’s worth turning up

Many of my most interesting memories didn’t feel entirely good at the time. In 2009 I travelled solo for three months through South and Central America. I was often afraid, tired and out of my depth but I was also thrilled, joyful and fascinated. I loved the Andes in a way that felt painful. When I look at the photos from that time I look so alive.

I most remember a night spent on Isla Amantani on Lake Titicaca. A mud brick house, a wood stove, cast iron pots. There was no shower, no electricity, just a few battery-operated light bulbs. A lovely family. A party in the village hall. It was very cold and the full moon shone on the lake. I had been nervous about that part of the trip. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was great.

I was also mugged on a beach at night in Costa Rica…I shouldn’t have been there. But in a life lived, you need some stories. The comfortable hours don’t make stories. Quiet hours of contentment are beautiful but we’re also here to live.

[Confession – right now I’m back in potato chip mode…can I call it a rest between adventures?…]