Adventure doesn’t have to wait for a two-week vacation or even the weekend. Traveling rightly means making the adventure happen in the here and now. A short respite from the every day, an overnight paddle trip and a solo jaunt to reconnect with your basic nature are all excellent ways of stepping out of the field of what you DO and back onto the realm of who you ARE.
Nick Robinson of SUPfm Podcast in the U.K. reminds us of the importance and accessibility of microadventures. Those mini jaunts into the realm of possibility fill our adventurous souls where we can recreate our life anew.
“Forget the 9 to 5.
It’s about the 5:00PM to 9:00AM.”
– Alastair Humphreys
Finding Space for the Microadventure in Your Life
It was Christmas time and I was browsing the web, whilst sitting inside my sister in law’s
apartment. It was a rainy, wintry day and the girls were plugged into the kitchen preparing fabulous delights for our Christmas meal the next day. I glanced down at the raindrops slipping down the window panes, a drab and dreary Portuguese street below.
The cobbles glistened in the light of streetlamps and I returned my focus to an adventure website I had just come across. Microadventures? I was really taken with the concept. In effect all they were, were just a night out under the stars. When was the last time I did that? A school camping trip? That was almost 30 years ago! I swallowed. What on earth had
Alastair Humphreys was this chap’s name and he really had a spectacularly inviting website. I was familiar with Dave Cornthwaite’s story of adventure that he successfully peddles at each adventure show he can, but this was fascinating. Alastair, even though I had no idea who he was, was actually urging me to go out and do a microadventure. Forget the 9 to 5 he said it’s all about the 5 to 9. In essence, he was suggesting that one could leave work, go camping and be back in time for work the next morning. Fascinating!
Hell, I was going to do this, so I planned it. A few weeks later back down in the Algarve, I
made some Spaghetti Bolognese for the family and then deftly packed the rest of it up for
the next day along with a bottle of wine. I packed all my kit into the van and announced to my wife that I was going camping and would she like to come with? “Are you crazy!” was the retort. I went alone, which was fine. I was pretty keen on doing this alone. It would be a completely different experience.
It was winter but clear and windless as I inflated my trusty old Red Paddle Explorer. It’s a real tank at 12’6″ long and 31″ wide but carries the load alright. Red Paddle is probably the most alluring and prominent brand of inflatable paddle boards. I plopped it in the chilly water and waded out to secure my kit, all tightly packed into a waterproof bag. Sleeping bag, comfy mattress, food (and wine!) and lots of layers of clothes as I was paddling in my wetsuit, more for warmth than water protection. However, if you’re paddling in winter, it’s always better to be prepared for the unlikely event of falling into the water. The last thing you need is to be shivering in wet clothes all night long.
I stroked out into the glassy evening and a sudden thrill came over me. I was all alone and comfortably ensconced in nature. No cars, no sirens, no city hum. Silence. An owl hooted. A fish jumped and slapped back into the darkening water. I loved it! It was such a liberating, exciting feeling, however, I had a mission, to paddle the 4 kilometres to my previously scouted camping spot before dark.
It was getting pretty dark already so I urged myself to stop gawking at the brilliant sunset as dusk settled on the lake. “Get your butt in gear mate, otherwise you’ll never find the spot in the dark.”
I braced my paddle in the water, shifted my muscles and the well-oiled machine (creaking a little) thrusted my trusty paddleboard through the water. My cadence increased and rhythmically the board came up to speed, cutting a neat little wake through the glassy water. I could hear my little wavelets slapping against the lakeshore. Perfect! Sweating now, I eased into a comfortable stroke and pushed on as the kilometres clicked away.
My camping spot was an old road that had been turned into a slipway. Back in 1993, this particular valley had been flooded and everything in it had been submerged. To this day you can still glide over silent villages as the eaves of their roofs poke out above the waterline. It’s an eerie feeling and especially when you coast past the old primary school. I often imagine the laughs, tears and teasing that must have taken place as the valley people let their children learn the ways of the world. Now it was a silent husk of a building, half-drowned and brooding over its fate.
My board crunched into the gravel of the road and I hauled it up, loosening my bag and lifting all the kit up onto a flat promontory, which hung nicely over the lake. It afforded a view of the surrounding area while remaining protected from the wind deep inside a little inlet. I set about organising my goods, assembling the tent and creating a little area for a small fire.
It was dark now and I accomplished all this with the campers obligatory headlamp bobbing above my eyebrows. Magnificent invention! However, it’s only fairly recently risen in popularity (at least they weren’t prevalent in stores when I was a kid). The only similar thing was lights on miners helmets. Clearly, it took a while for that technology to be transferred to commercial public use. Now every campsite has at least a few bright one-eyed monsters lurking about. My pool of light lit up a perfect orange tent with brown rain cover. Good. I settled down, lit my little fire which was for comfort not for heat as those layers of clothing were working their magic and I was toasty warm.
Tucking into my Spaghetti Bolognese, I sipped on a delightfully fruity white wine from the Douro region, out of a mug, no less! I may have been camping but I wasn’t about to swig wine out of the bottle. I looked around, listening and marveled at where I was: deep in the Portuguese countryside with nothing but nature for miles around.
What a wonderful night.
Written by, Nick Robinson
Nick Robinson & SUPfm podcast
Nick Robinson is co-creator of the SUPfm podcast with Simon Hutchinson. This weekly worldwide stand up paddle board podcast is broadcast from the United Kingdom. Whether a SUP racer, paddle surfer or SUP adventurer, the SUPfm podcast is an inspiration for every paddler.
Discussions with athletes about fitness, paddle technique and topics geared across all skills and experience levels to give you what you need to get the MOST out of your stand up paddleboard.
If you have a story to tell, or would like to share your stoke then DM Nick and Simon on Instagram @supfmpodcast