The Adventurous Daddy
By Karl Wait
I read on nearly a daily basis about 20 something year old “Explorer’s” and “Professional Adventurers” and how they just “left their bed-sit in London one day with a rucksack and an old pair of hob-nail boot’s and never returned for four years” or, tweeting about the mention they get on a “Roll of honour” plaque made from the oak bows of the Mayflower’s sister ship, hung on the walls of the Royal Geographic Society headquarters. And where am I when I read this? That’s right sitting in front of my P.C in my four bedroom house, two of which are full of kids and the other rooms are filled with everything from a Wife, Dog, Cat, hamsters to Goldfish, not to mention the Ducks and Hen’s out-side!
Don’t get me wrong, these brave Men and Women are taking chances and pushing the boundaries of endurance and mental strength to the absolute limit, and I applaud them! If only I had taken the same chances when I was a few years younger, rather than exploring most of the bars in a 200-mile radius of me! Then maybe I wouldn’t be bitter and twisted about it now! Or maybe I still would…
I may have turned 40 this year, but when I look way back to when I was 10, I remember spending most days exploring the woods that surrounded my parents house, and building Den’s with anything I could get my hands on. Then spending the night in a sleeping bag under the branches of my shelter, cowering at the sounds the night brought.
Fast-forward 30 years, to a few weeks ago, and where did I spend the night? in a sleeping bag under the stars cowering at the noises the night brought!
Hold on though, when I think about it, all the years of my life have been an adventure of sorts, I mean, an adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome. Well I think that covers everything from getting a tooth out at the dentist to your first encounter with a girl!
So how do forty year old Dad’s with a limited budget and time compete on the adventure stakes with 20 year old, six-pack wearing, outdoor warriors????
I mean, I may be wrong but given the chance, and a little training I could still walk/run by their sides to any destination, for any length of time! That I am sure of!
Precious day’s and hours have to be marked on the calendar weeks, sometimes months in advance, and pink slips given begrudgingly by my lovely wife. Although she knows underneath that without these priceless time-outs, she would suffer at the hands of my moods.
Where do they start then, these little adventures? Well that’s the easy part! Exactly five seconds after my working day starts I switch off from real life mode and transfer to the Dream Academy. Spending time planning and formulating my hours/day’s in either my back door playground of Northumberland or further a field.
I ask myself questions like ” I wonder how long it would take to run the exact line of the England/Scotland Border?” “I wonder how many of the local hills over 500 metres I can climb in 24hrs” “What do the Waterfalls in the remotest parts of the Northumberland National Park look like in sub-zero wintertime” “Can I cycle to Scafell Pike, climb it and cycle back in one day”.
These are how my small, personal adventures are born. But the birth is the easiest part, bringing them through to the actual first step is the hardest part of the challenge; It takes real determination to make these a reality!
I am not alone in this, as I know many thousands of other people are in the same boat. I recently came across a web site by a guy called Alastair Humphreys, who is, in his words an “Adventurer/Author/Motivational Speaker. He has in the last few years championed the “Micro-adventure” as he calls it, and blogs about it on his web site. His site really is in my opinion the first place to go if you are struggling for inspiration! One of the bullet pointed statistics on his front-page states that “40% of people have not stood on a mountain or swum in natural water” I find that quite amazing really! But at the same time in a selfish way pleased, as I want to be the only one in that water pool, or on top of that Mountain.
If you browse through my web site of you will read about some of the things that myself and my friends have been involved in, or events we have taken part in, and I can tell you that each and everyone one gives me a feeling that nothing else can match, whether it be running 53 miles, hiking up a mountain in winter, or jumping into a cold river, knowing that you have given it everything! The rewards are immeasurable! The after-glow that comes with the finale of these mini-adventures will stay with you for a lifetime. Which I guess is the same feeling Atlantic Rowers, Everest Climbers and Jungle walking Pro’s get at the end of their much bigger adventures.
I ask myself, “Can it be compared to Football” I mean, does scoring a winning goal in a Sunday League cup game give the same feeling of euphoria as scoring at Wembley in a World Cup game? I would answer yes! So using this as an metaphor, I will continue to play Sunday League in my outdoor world (but secretly hoping I will get picked for England!), and then after the full time whistle blow’s, I will turn on the T.V/P.C and watch the Pro’s tackle the Mountains that are the Brazil’s and Italy’s of the exploration world!
Watch out twenty-something year old Outdoor Warriors! The rise of the 40-year-old Daddy is happening!
Karl Wait lives in Wooler, Northumberland, England and is training at the moment for Moroccan UTAT Ultra marathon. He is also a father Evie 14 and Daisy 6 and is married to Cindy. His daughter has a blog at http://daisywaitsblog.blogspot.com/