Microadventures

National Geographic Adventurer of 2012 Alastair Humphreys really impressed me. Not because he climbed the highest mountains or travelled to the most desolate places…. but his creative ways to show adventures are accessible to all.

Generally I swoon over crazy stories of mountaineers, sailors, backcountry skiers and others who hop around the globe, doing daring feats that test their determination, perseverance, physical and emotional strength. Those individuals are awesome – but most of the adventures require a lot of time and a lot of money. We used a little of each on our kick a$$ adventures  hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in ’09 and Continential Divide Trail in ’10. TBut now what?

To go off for 5 or 6 months we’d have to quit our jobs… and we’re fortunate to both have jobs we’re very passionate about.  Plus, after moving here and there so much, we’ve now decided to stay put (for a bit, at least) and build up a community here in Reston.  However, we only get about 2 weeks of holiday a year.  So does it have to be all work or all play? Working 4 jobs to earn money for our backpacking adventures was definitely worth it, but now we’re trying to create a more integrated and balanced life.

Enter Alastair.

“Break down the elitism in adventure—that was my goal,” says Alastair Humphreys, reports nationalgeographic.com.

He had his fare share of far-flung adventures – he rode his bike 46,000 miles around the world, as well as traipsing around remote areas of Iceland and the South Pole.

But in 2011, Humphreys never left his native U.K. He barely even left the county.

Photo: Alastair Humphreys cycling on folding bike in the mistInstead he embarked on a year of microadventures—small, local trips that began and ended at his doorstep. He hiked Britain’s most reviled stretch of road, the M25, a clogged transit artery that circles London through the swelling suburbs. He swam the Thames, used public transport to get out of the city and sleep out underneath the stars, and spent four days living off the land. Advanced Base Camp was his home in London’s suburbs.

“Each trip ticked all the boxes of adventure. It was cold. It was physically challenging. I talked to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” says Humphreys. What he learned was clear—we find adventure by stepping outside of our day-to-day norms.

And what’s also great is his use of Twitter and modern technology to inspire others to also come up with their own microadventures. My fave of Humphreys’ adventures is his hike around the M25 – basically London’s equivalent to 495/The Beltway – a huge circular highway that people dread driving, much less walking. It’s so ludicrous. It sounds like something only a masochistic would dream up. Did I mention he did it in January? Yet Humphreys’ reports,  “I saw some beautiful places, which I hadn’t expected to find at all. I met interesting people. That week ticked all of the boxes that my four-year bike trip around the world ticked. I came back buzzing. It was quite stupid and silly, but it had been a genuine adventure.”

To read the full interview of Humphreys, click here.

And please leave comments about ideas of DC microadventures? Walking around the Beltway anyone?

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