When I was a teenager, my best mate became a climber. I'd often go out to the Peaks with him, along with a few others he'd met through work who were also climbers. At weekends we'd go camping in the field at the side of Fox House (Before they ruined it), having breakfast in Grindleford Caf and generally enjoying the outdoors. But it started to change, When they would talk, an adventure was something that happened to someone going to Peru, or someone making an attempt on Everest or finding a new route in the Alps... Essentially, someone with money. I did not have any money. I had a crap job that paid little, along with even crappier shifts. So as they got further into climbing and got better and better gear, able to spend more time on the wall, I was left behind.
I'd still go occasionally, scrambling around at the bottom while they leapt from one hold the next, high above. I thought at the time it was simply that I wasn't good enough to be a climber, I realise now, I just wasn't one of their clique and that their idea of an adventure was well out of my pocket.
Fast forward 15 years and I get back into walking. While I was reading on the net, I found a couple of websites that really fired my imagination. The first was 'One man and a Bivi' a website with the story of a man who sat up one day and decided that he wanted to go camping in a Bivi bag..
He didn't go climb Everest, he wasn't doing this for anyone else, he just wanted to try something different.
Around the same time I started to go onto the forum at Live For the Outdoors (an offshoot of Trail magazine. If you don't go there and you are into walking or climbing, give it a try. No matter how trivial the question, there's always someone who will help or lend an opinion. The people who post helped me enormously in getting back out there and if you have a question and I'm online, I'll do my best to answer it).
The story of the man and his Bivi kept coming back to me. I'd read it every now and again. It's essentially the story of a middle aged man having what seemed to be a very quiet middle age crisis, it inspired me to just go out there and do what I want to do. I don't need to go overseas for an adventure. In fact I don't have to travel far at all.
A few months later one of the Trail staff posted this question to the forumers.. "Would you work the outdoors?"
Since I had discovered that adventures were where you made them, I was Horrified... with a capital H and a lot of why's. Why would I want to spoil my hobby? Why would I ever want to feel obligated to go out there. Why would I do something that meant I had to follow a set path or stop where I didn't feel like it? Why would I spoil my enjoyment for that?
I found myself re-examining this question tonight. I still feel as protective of walking as I did before, but now I want.. I want people to feel the same way as I do when you're stood on a summit with the wind in your hair, like I did on Bleaklow last year. I want people to understand, just how otherworldly Kinder can be when the fog rolls in and one day, While I'm in the Pub having a well deserved after-walk pint - If just one person utters that they are there because they read something that I had written...
Oh! whare are my old mates?.. They are at home watching Eastenders...