So our 2023 Charity Adventure update and how we are going to proceed....
First of all, I would like to tell you that we are NOT going to be pausing or stopping our 1900-mile charity challenge to thru-hike all 29 of Scotland's Great Trails for Scottish Autism.
What we are going to do is change how we move forward into the year and keep it under review.
This is what we are thinking, intending to try, how it will work, and of course its inevitable consequences!
This, of course, may all have to change if we feel it is not having the desired effect for all of us!
As I have already explained we have been having a few issues this year that we did not experience in 2022 when we did our charity 'end to end' hike. I'm not going to go over our issues again as I have already spoken about them.
What I did mention though, is that for the last few days, Sarah and I have been talking about some of the things that need to change in order to carry on, and be able to complete the adventure whilst keeping all of our mental health intact!
Sarah and I had a conversation where we both tried to lay out what we were thinking and feeling. Luckily we were both on the same page, so coming up with a basic idea and plan wasn’t particularly difficult.
We extended the conversation to involve Eve once we were both happy with what we had come up with and that we were 'singing of the same song sheet'.
We didn’t involve Eve straight away in the conversation, as we wanted to discuss it between us first, without accidentally contradicting each other in front of Eve and causing any undue confusion.
Being autistic, the facts and details are very important and matter greatly. Eve can identify any irregularity or pattern without even trying to find any.
This is a double edge sword, which can be great but it also adds an extra level of complexity when we are trying to plan anything!
Luckily Eve is very chilled and good at going with the flow! pheww!!!
What I can tell you is, under no uncertain terms, there is no desire from any of us to stop, postpone or withdraw from this year's adventure challenge of hiking all 29 of Scotland's Great Trails.
I have said many times that Eve is at her best and strongest when outdoors and having an adventure. This has not changed. If anything it is becoming more obvious and more profound as she grows and develops.
What I think is that this year we have lacked a bit of balance between adventure and family time, although, in an ideal world, we would have been able to combine them.
Unfortunately the issues only really became obvious once we started.
But this is part of the challenge and being able to adapt to what happens and the unforeseen, both on and off the trail, is after all, for us a way of life!
We started this year's challenge hiking earlier in the year than we had intended and with a more challenging adventure than I had expected.
This year's adventure it is a lot harder than last year's due to the mileage, terrain and the fact that Scotland is a lot more remote and wild than England.
One thing that I have struggled with that's only just become obvious is the constantly changing trails. As soon as we get into a rhythm or settle into a pattern of hiking and living it has to stop as we move onto the next trail with its own unique qualities and challenges.
Hiking end to end last year was linear, where the changes, albeit dramatic at points, transitioned smoothly without the sudden jolt that we have experienced this year. I hadn't anticipated this.
I have definitely learned this year that I prefer long linear hikes such as JOGLE.
I think they also work best for Eve, if for no other reason than we are always able to start the day from a familiar point and the planning is slightly simpler.
So, back to the point (sorry I’ve gone off on a tangent again!)…
what are we actually going to change this year...?
The fundamental idea is to take a step back, slow down, and not have the Great Trails charity adventure as the predominant, primary focus for the year.
This will give us the time and space to do other things, alongside the charity walk.
How we will do this?
The way we will achieve this is to take more days off between each trial, focusing on the days that Sarah is not working!
Currently, we take only 1 day off between finishing one trail and starting the next.
We have made a point to not specify a minimum or maximum amount of days off the trial. It will however be enough to ensure we achieve a practical and emotional balance for all our needs.
All three of us still retain our individual veto, so we can extend our days off without a reason!
This, I hope will not just give Sarah and Eve more time together, but also give Eve the opportunity to continue with her other outdoor passions, such as canoeing, climbing, wild swimming, bushcraft etc, and of course the odd domestic activity that both Sarah and Eve enjoy such as baking.
This I feel will also be good from a developmental perspective as Eve will have more time to experience other things that are not so hiking-centric!
This will also give me the time i need to plan, prepare and transition to the next trail but also to wind down a little.
Eve is an energizer bunny when outdoors, and I simply can't keep up with her all the time.
The third and probably most important thing for all of us is that it will give us time and space to be together as a family.
Sarah and I might even manage to have a romantic evening together, something we haven’t been able to do for a long time as we’re always discussing and planning the next stage!
What are the consequences of the 2023 charity adventure?
The consequence of allowing ourselves more rest-bite between trails is that it's highly unlikely that we will complete all the trails by the end of this year 2023. We have no plan to increase the daily mileage to make up for the increase of days off, as that I feel would be counterproductive!
I hope that all makes sense.
I know I could have written this in about 1 or 2 paragraphs but I do like a good waffle, so if you got this far thank you and well done!
Ian, Sarah and Eve