In a conveyor belt existence, of repetition, responsibilities and the mundane, we are becoming increasingly a race of drones. A hive of plebs afraid to park our family cars outside of the lines in Tesco’s car park, whipped to targets, deadlines and conformity and 24-7 scrutiny.
Mindfulness has become an industry; cashing in on a wholesale need to escape our bondage. Consumers pay for reiki, meditation or suffi chanting, unplug their brains and submerge themselves in a Netflix box set. Me? My rebellion is the micro-adventure.
Microadventures by Alistair Humphreys
“So what’s a microadventure? It’s close to home, cheap, simple, short and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours.“
We are all capable of creating our own micro-adventures. You find what excites you, scares you a little and drags your institutionalised dead-brained, zombie corpse as far away from the real world as you can in the mini-pocket of time you are allowed. I am unlikely to be walking the Appalachian Trail anytime soon, climbing Kilimanjaro or sailing solo across the Atlantic; but a micro-adventure is about spirit and a tight purse.
My name is Deborah, and I like getting lost.
My running feet take me predominantly onto the trails nowadays. At first, I was that person the Mountain Rescue dread the most. Yes, I had a decent pair of Salomans and a fell-runnery waist pack jobby; but inside said pack was a cheap old Ron Hill jacket and a couple of quids worth of sweeties. No full kit, rarely a water bottle, no map, definitely no compass and comprehensively no idea.
And I bimbled.
Bimbling involves studying an OS map in great detail, spread out on the lounge carpet, brew in hand with no idea how it relates to the terrain you will be crossing.
Bimbling is going over a route and consolidating and confirming the finer details whilst standing in the car park immediately prior to setting off, before chucking the map into the boot because you can’t be bothered to carry it/don’t want to screw it up/are only going 5 miles from home.
Bimbling is getting to the first crossroads and wondering where the other path leads and curiously wandering the interesting-looking way.
Bimbling is setting off with a vague idea of where you’d like to get to and plenty of time to get there.
Bimbling is carrying the map but not actually knowing whereabouts on it you are.
Bimbling is looking forward to uploading your run to Garmin so you can see where the hell you’ve been.
When I go on a run, my husband has no idea how long I am likely to be. We have had cross words over this fact. The trouble is, I cannot give him an accurate ETA or even an idea of where to send the search and rescue helicopter should I not be home for tea, because I rarely know myself. (Plus, I like to keep him on his toes.)
Here’s an actual message sent mid-run.
In this instance, I convinced myself that there were two trig points on Pendle Hill, (there aren’t,) and was confused as to why no-one ever mentions the second one, (because there isn’t one.) I scrambled down the side of a clough to splash across a river, climbed a fence in search of a path to follow, got caught in a thunderstorm and just made it back before it got dark. This was genuinely “a bit scary” at the time as I was struck with how massive and sparse our little local hill is.
I like to get lost as a way of route learning; I wander aimlessly down trails so that next time I’m up that way, I’ll know where they lead. I have repeatedly got lost in the same place.
On a run over Todmorden way, I ran for 4hrs, thumbing my map religiously and determined to find my way home. As dusk loomed, I took the sensible decision to retreat from the hills and head down the valley-side to the road. I found myself to be less than a mile from where I had started. I caught the bus home.
Getting lost isn’t something you can only do on your own though. If you take someone intrepid with you, the added bonus is their exasperation at your apparent ineptitude or manic, hysterical laughter as you stumble across landmarks that you’ve previously stated you are avoiding. “We’ll not go to Scout Cairn today, we’ll save that for another day,” recalled as we peered through the mist towards it a short time later.
Some people, don’t like the bad form of climbing over a padlocked gate, legging it through a farmyard and avoiding a barking dog; others look at you incredulously when you suggest wading an icy brook. Bogs are always a squelchy squeal-fest whoever you’re with. Quarries it turns out are bum-slidingly, death-defyingly adventurous playgrounds to be bimbling around with a pal. On the whole though, I take care to be respectful and 100% try not to die.
I carry appropriate kit now. I’ve sold a kidney and invested in a very expensive jacket, I have a first aid kit, a compass and a pair of waterproof keks. I do know how to nav; I’ve practiced loads, (in the dark and everything!) I can read a grid reference, orientate, and all that stuff. I know my way around my local hills better too; familiarity is making getting almost-worringly-not-where-I-want-to-be more difficult.
But, getting lost on a micro-adventure is still my favourite way to spend my time. I consider it an act of militancy against the societal restrictions of the mad, mad world we live in.
“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”
― George Orwell,