Adventures In the Great Outdoors

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Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle.

My best memories and my best learning about life have come from spending weekends and holidays in the great outdoors. As a child my parents whisked us away for family holidays in our caravan or tent, taking in wonderful adventures as we immersed ourselves in some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes. We took walks in the grandeur of rainforested mountains enthralled by stories of our ancestors’ pioneering days. On secret secluded beaches we discovered ocean life washed upon the shore – evidence of another world we could barely begin to imagine. Across the deserts we drove, soaking in the wonder of the sunrises and sunsets, a land of extremes in myriad ways.

Family Beach Camping

My teenage years brought the opportunity to go camping with my Girl Guide and Ranger crews. As a restless sleeper, I knew then that my best sleeps came after a day in the outdoors, hiking, learning woodcraft skills, cooking over a campfire, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, riding bikes and simply being with others who loved the adventure as much as I did.

Beach Adventures

It was no surprise then that at uni I met and married a kindred spirit of the outdoors. We spent our leisure time exploring all the usual National Parks trails within a few hours drive of the city, playing frisbee in the park, cycling the local roads and pathways, paddling on the bay and local creeks, and filling our lives with regular camping trips near and far.

Rainforest Adventures

As our children arrived on the scene, they too were included in our adventures which were modified to accommodate their growing needs. Nurturing their love of the outdoors has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far. To see their little faces eagerly joining in on walks, creek paddling and bike rides has been completely heartwarming. And to hear their excited voices asking questions, always asking questions, soaking it all in, enthusiastic about nature and adventure, curious about their world and seeing themselves as a valuable and integral part of it has been a spirited journey.

Trop[ical Rainforest Adventures with Children

Through family illness and injury, study stresses and sporting commitments, work pressures and ties to family, friends and farm animals, we’ve kept up our habit of spending much of our leisure time in the great outdoors. Sometimes our adventures have been confined to the backyard (albeit a sizeable acreage of dry bushland) because that’s all we could do at the time. However sometimes our adventures have taken us to amazing far off places – interstate road trips with the trailer packed to the brim with camping gear. We’ve camped and hiked in awe-inspiring places like the The Warrumbungles, Mt Kaputar, the Blue Mountains, Carnarvon Gorge, Atherton Tableland, Central Australia, Birdsville, Innamincka, Gibraltar Range and Sturt National Park. By the time Miss E reached high school, she’d spent more birthdays in our tent than she had at home.

Family looking over FNQ viewpoint

And now this year I sensed I was ready to take on a new challenge. A challenge that would combine my much-loved experiences of camping with the physical challenge of bushwalking – I decided that this year I was going to have a go at backpacking! Something I was never interested in at all until now. I mean, why would you want to carry a heavy weight on your back for hours to a campsite when you can so easily tow a trailer with everything you could possibly need (and more), and pull up right beside a campsite to unpack, in easy walking distance of the bathrooms, and with plenty of walking trails to choose from right where you are! But the inner self doesn’t always operate on logic, and I’ve learned to trust myself when I sense that I’m ready for something new. Back-flipping my thinking didn’t come easily though. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and asking myself “why?” and I don’t really have that answer yet. But what I do have is a strong pull towards challenging myself, stretching my abilities and coping skills, and discovering new possibilities for myself, not limiting myself. Surprising as it may seem, even to me, the life learning in this backpacking adventure has only just begun!

The beginning of navigation and trekking adventures

Stay tuned for my next episode of My Great Backpacking Adventure as I take off on my first overnight hiking expedition!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Ode to a Headwind

Ode to a Headwind

HEADWIND, how you frustrate me. You visit without warning in all seasons.

You turn a fun time into suffering. You change direction without warning. Swirling, confusing.

In SUMMER, you bring the hot dry desert to greet me as I walk out the door to ride.

Thirst and weariness always by my side. Dust and dirt worn with pride.

In WINTER, you sneakily invite the Antarctic spirits along for the ride.

Icicles and frostbite ripping at me, destroying my soul. In winter you take a toll.

In SPRING, you howl and whistle all around me, invading every space, disturbing every peace.

Your gale force beckons fears and nightmares. Felling trees. You have no cares.

In AUTUMN, the chill is in your breath. Pushing me. Compelling me. Exerting force.

You face me on the open hill. A reminder that change is inevitable.

HEADWIND – you are a force. Meet me face to face or back and forth.

Strength training is all I need. Ensuring power is matched with speed.

But, OH HEADWIND, honoured be your cause. The summer flies are no match for thee.

Gladly I face you as I ride east. Goddam flies! Pesky beasts!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

Accidentally getting it right – OR DID I?

There’s been a rock garden at the beginning of our mountain bike track on our home property ever since we built it. It’s always daunted me, especially being right at the very start! I’ve been pretty proud of how I’ve come to face some of my fears along parts of our short track including this rock garden at the beginning. As time has gone on, my progress has gone from bike hiking through the entire length of the rock garden, to riding through the first couple of metres then walking through the next bit, to finally being able to ride most of the rock garden and dabbing my right foot once or twice on the boulder on my right as I squeeze through the narrow gap between the craggy rocks.

I often walk or run along our trail as well. It’s so accessible and I don’t need to go any further afield to step into our beautiful Australian bush country! As I’ve traversed the trail over the past few months, I’ve sometimes stopped to look at the rock garden and visualise myself riding through the narrow gaps between the rocks without clunking my pedals. I knew that I would need to develop a lot more skill, line accuracy, confidence and power to ride this section. Basically I’d been riding it so slowly that I didn’t have enough power to get over the craggy rocks. Although I enjoyed my brief little fantasies of riding effortlessly over and around the rocks, I certainly didn’t have much hope that I’d ever actually be able to do it.

Last week I was closely following my husband as we rode the trail. Normally I’m a long way behind and do my own thing. I watched the line that he took through the rock garden and without even thinking about it I probably followed a very similar line, dabbed my foot once on the big boulder on the right, and kept going. I noticed quite a powerful thought come to my mind “Wow that seemed pretty much seamless.” Even though I’d dabbed my foot, it felt smooth and flowy.

A few minutes later as we rode the trail loop again, I was conscious that I was thinking about something that was upsetting me. I wasn’t very mindful of where I was or what I was doing. Suddenly I realised I’d already ridden through the rock garden! I hadn’t dabbed my foot, I didn’t jab my pedals, and the smooth flowy feeling hit the pit of my stomach and came out of my mouth with a loud shriek, my previous upset forgotten in a moment of elation as I realised what I’d done. I’d accidentally got it right!

OR HAD I? What acknowledgement do I owe MYSELF for the consistent work of practising, the walking it through, the visualisations? How often do I mindlessly disregard something I’ve achieved seeing it as a random event which I’ve had no control over? How would it be if I paused for a moment to celebrate my work and my successes, however small they might seem to another? Would this impact my perception of progress over time and keep my enjoyment and motivation rolling along?

Today as I walk the same trail and peer along the rock garden, I can clearly see the line that I need to take on my bike. The rocks seem so much smaller than before, the gaps between them seem so much wider, and I realise just how powerful the images and thoughts in our minds can be.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

Women’s Wellness: Creating the ideal exercise experience!

Connection ….. Ease ….. Laughs ….. Shared experiences ….. Less pressure

These are some of the motivations that women and girls speak about when offered the opportunity for women-only sporting activities. There are many other reasons that individuals (whether identifying as male, female or otherwise) gravitate towards gender-specific activities. Despite the arguments for inclusiveness in sport, there are many women and girls who are reluctant to participate unless women-only events and activities are on offer.

There is growing concern for obesity and other conditions related to sedentary behaviour including chronic illness and poor mental health. Apart from the obvious burden on the nation’s economy, the real burden of poor health is lived out and carried everyday by individuals, families and communities. As a community, I believe we need to creatively explore the possibilities when it comes to getting people active, and not expect individuals to slot into the pre-existing boxes for engaging with physical activities.

Our society has been predominantly constructed and written by the male voice. Our medical research is skewed towards what works best on male subjects. And likewise, our sporting establishments have traditionally been set up by and for men. For women, there has long been the pressure to fit in with these establishments, or make minor modifications to better meet their identified need.

Rural and regional Australia has poorer health outcomes than its urban counterparts, so I’m really keen to make a constructive contribution to the health and wellbeing of my community on the southern Darling Downs, and to encourage women and girls to creatively construct systems and routines so they can enjoy being more active.

But I think it’s time we questioned whether our systems are meeting everyone’s needs –  not only women. Times they are a changin’ and the best time for change is now. I’d love to hear ideas from everyone regardless of gender:

  • What works for you when it comes to getting active and staying active?

  • What is your ideal way to increase your physical activity and reduce your sedentary behaviour?

  • What would motivate you to stay committed to your health and wellness through exercise and physical activity?

Leave your comments and ideas, or head over to Daisy Spoke’s Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/daisyspokeblog/?ref=bookmarks

Summer Riding: learning from the flies, mozzies, heat, and snakes

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SUMMER ….. for many of my friends summer means beaches, swimming, ice creams and holidays. But for me, I associate summer with something different – flies, heat, mozzies, heat rash, snakes ….. did I mention the heat? And so far this summer there’s been an abundance of all the above!

MTB Bike Trail Fatigued from the heat of the day and the associated sleep disturbance through the night, I struggle to enjoy my mountain bike riding as usual. There’s a narrow time frame to get outside in order to avoid the oppressive heat. Yet even then it seems too hot, there are too many flies and mozzies, I still get heat rash all over (just like a baby, yes, including ….. well ….. including everywhere!) and there is the ever-present foreboding possibility of [GASP] snakes. Not just any snakes though. The snakes round this part of the world (Australia) are the deadliest on the planet, and in my little corner of the globe (Darling Downs, Queensland) they are more likely to be deadly than not!

So many worries, so many stresses, so many obstacles to keeping active in my summer time, so many internal voices directing me away from summer MTB and exercise in general. Too hot to eat. Too hot to sleep. Too hot to play. Too hot to be sociable. Bah humbug!

treeSitting down at home after a particularly hot day (it’s still over 30deg C at 7:30pm), I feel the faint breeze starting to work its magic, gently wafting through the windows, sharing its spirit and energy with me, re-energising and refreshing my body, mind and soul.

The sunset painted across the sky in pink and purple and orange reminds me of the varied and colourful world we share with billions of others on this planet, and that I am privileged for having shelter, clothing, food and clean water to drink.

Listening to the kookaburras calling to each other I can only imagine what stories they are sharing about their day. What story might I share from my day? A story of grumpiness and resentment? Or a story of gratitude and celebration of life?

The cicadas amplify their tune as darkness falls and I remember that there is so much more to this world than what I see at first glance and experience directly. Remember the little people, the little creatures, the unseen and unsong heroes, those without a voice in our society.

The stars and the moon come out to play as the evening cools off. Maybe this is my time to play too. How can I use the cool of the day better? And how can I make better make use of my time during the searing heat?

I hear a menagerie of other wildlife settling down for the night, or beginning their nightly rounds. How would it be to organise my life more in tune with the natural systems and patterns of the world around me?

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I remind myself I have so much more to learn about life and myself. By tuning into my personal experience of summer, I can find lessons that will teach me patience, tolerance, acceptance and compassion.

I can acknowledge my internal voices that convincingly tell me I ‘should’ be able to control my environment and my reactions better, that I haven’t achieved anything worthwhile today, and that my level of frustration and annoyance reflects the injustice of the summer conditions.

Summer riding (or not riding as the case may be) gives me the opportunity to learn about what matters most, what I can legitimately control and influence, the importance of pacing myself and being in tune with my inner and outer worlds, and learning to choose more wisely which of my inner voices I’ll listen to today.

farmsceneathoughtisathought

Logo 2 shorter hairSo tomorrow, with temperatures forecast at 37deg C (again), I choose something different. I choose to stay indoors to do core strength training (something I tend to neglect anyway!) instead of riding outdoors. I’ll have the fans on and a bottle of icy water beside me. No snakes. No mozzies. No flies. And the heat …. well there isn’t much I can do to control the weather, but some of my choices can make that somewhat less of a problem. I choose to be grateful for the choices I DO have, and to make the most of them. BUT ….. I expect that sometimes I’ll need reminding about that again!