Pembrokeshire coastal path, Wicklow Way, the entire coastal path, or the three peaks. I’ve never been much of an adventurer or a camper, so this came as a surprise: I want to go hiking for weeks or months.
Ever since I lived in Wales right along the Pembrokeshire coastal path, I’ve been dying to hike it. To me, it seemed like the ultimate freedom. My, hiking boots and a cliff with the roaring sea below. This was before movies like ‘Wild’ or ‘Into the wild’ were even on my radar. This was also when I was still overweight and had little to no endurance. It seemed like a faraway dream. One I never forgot.
Right now, I seem to find myself at a point in my life where I need to decide whether I’m going to do a trail like that. And if I am, it may be now or never. No, I’m not dramatic, just realistic.
Being on my way to 32, there is pressure from all angles of life. Friends are getting married, popping babies and buying houses. And while I’m happy for them and a part of me longs for that too, I can feel adventure pulling. It’s tugging my sleeve and asking me to pay attention to that feeling of growing wanderlust.
Lately, I’ve remembered the feelings of those first hikes in the UK. The ground under my feet, the landscape was flashing by when I was on the train. I remember the promise I made myself to hike that trail, the guidebook I bought now living on the bookshelf.
One thing I keep asking myself is ‘how bad do I want it?’. Do I want to do that hike, go on that adventure and see where it leads me? I do, but part of me is terrified that it will change me and that I will not return the same person. Another part of me is excited to finally become a travel writer and photographer. To be an adventurer. Something 14-year old me never thought I could be.
Maybe that’s why I took up climbing in September. Part of me longs for it so bad; it got hooked on something that started out as an extra exercise to support my runs. But the more I climb, the more I long for real rock under my hands. For the fresh mountain air, for the silence of nature that is never silent.
I’m at a crossroad I don’t want to be on. A crossroad where clear signs are telling me the way I should be going. And while my foot is turning towards the signs, my gaze is looking at that path less travelled by. I keep wondering ‘what if?’
There is a scratch map above my desk. One of those where you scratch off countries you’ve been to. It’s looking very bare.
Up until three years ago, the furthest I’ve been from home was Ireland and a city trip to Prague. I hadn’t even been to France or Germany. That changed quickly when I met my boyfriend. For all the things we don’t have in common, our love for travelling connects us. We were only together for a few months when we took our first road trip to Germany. I always wanted to see the Black Forest, so it felt like a great idea to do that together.
Since then I’ve travelled to the US, Asia and several other European countries. I’ve spent the day with Elephants, cooked Thai food, drove around on motorbikes (tumbled off a scooter) and hiked down a sulphur crater in the middle of the night. To be honest, I still can’t believe half of the things I’ve done and seen.
Yet, there is so much I would love to see: the Chinese wall, the Mayan and Inca temples, the great pyramids, but also wild Elephants, Japan and rain forest.
I was 29 when I started travelling, and part of me regrets not doing that when I was younger. It feels like I missed a great part of my life, and it feels like I’m behind. Then again, how can you be behind when you’re following your own path?
This year I want to travel a lot. Go on hikes, maybe even wild camping. The idea of doing those things fills me with excitement, and I can’t wait to get out and go.
Right now, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t do this when I was younger. I wasn’t ready for this when I was younger, and that’s okay too. I am now, and that’s all that matters.