10 years ago

10 years ago today I landed back in Blighty on a flight from Peru full of stories about the most amazing adventure I’d just experienced, my first fundraising challenge. Little did I know that my adventure of a lifetime would turn into a lifetime of adventures!

10 years ago I was a very different person. Never did I imagine that I would ever climb Snowdon let alone an 8000m peak. I was always the one saying ‘I could never do that’ or ‘why would you want to do that’! Little did I know then exactly how much that challenge would change my life.

10 years ago I had a safe and sensible job, went to work in a suit, had a lovely house, weekends off, a big 4×4, went to the pub on a Friday night and had leisurely Sunday lunches with my friends. Oh how life has changed!

Back in Peru, I was the quiet one. The one who didn’t quite know what she’d let herself in for. The one who managed well with the altitude, the camping was bearable, tushing the bush was a new experience and so was eating unidentifiable meat. Little did I know that altitude gives you wind and just how cold it is sleeping at 4000m. Little did I know then that going commando is the best way where cycle shorts are concerned, that going with the flow will give you the greatest experience rather than getting annoyed when things don’t go quite according to plan. Little did I know that my vertigo was going to get a kick up the arse and that my quick exit from Machu Picchu from fear would see me back there on many occasions with groups of my own thinking, blimey….you can get over these fears when you really try, when you really want to.

Back in Peru our cycling was very different. We were given paper maps, note the ‘not to scale’ comment and just pedaled until we were told to stop. No Garmins, no worries about height gain, altitude, technology was left at home and we just pedaled and enjoyed it. I remember Dougie saying ‘it doesn’t rain this time of year’ just before we cycled through a thunderstorm. I remember getting sneezing fits and a seriously runny nose and Doc saying ‘never mind, you’ll be fine’, and I was. I also remember seeing Caroline meet her new group who had flown in to Cusco just before we flew out and remember thinking ‘what a cool job’. Little did I know way back then!

So life has changed somewhat. No fancy car, few weekends off, catching up with friends when I can in between trips, no more vertigo, eating unidentifiable meat is the norm as is wild wee’ing and having Sunday lunch with my friends is a real treat. My pay packet has taken a nosedive but my richness in life has increased beyond compare.

I am no longer the ‘I could never do that’ or ‘why would you want to’ person. I’m the ‘get out there and try it’ person. I remember so well the encouragement I received from Dougie, Caroline and Helen in Peru, from Joe and Caroline in New Zealand 18 months later, and from Jackie and Sneh in Cuba. 3 years after my first trip I sent off my CV to DA and got the call to come along to a crew selection weekend. I remember talking to the leaders and hearing their tales from trips thinking that I would never be able to do that. I remember on a London to Paris, in a truck with Jason, talking about this thing called an ML, how on earth I was going to get my foot on the outdoor ladder. I remember thinking that it was such a big leap but somehow I would get there.

So roll forward 10 years, 5th May 2014. I went for a leisurely Bank Holiday lunch with a great friend, Jenny. We talked about trips and about travels. We talked about what is going to happen in the next 12 months and we did a lot of planning for Everest 2015. I showed her my Peru photos in an album and the maps we were given on each day of the ride. Oh how life has changed!

Onto Everest 2015, such a huge project to raise the funds even before we even get to Nepal. Such a lot of support from my family, friends and even people who have never met me but want to live out a dream through someone else. Everest is one mountain that I said I would never do, I was definitely in the ‘why’ rather than ‘why not’ category. Sometimes you’ve just got to put a lid on the fear, take a deep breath and just get on with it.

Never say never.

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