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winter microadventure

Winter Microadventure

Last week I challenged people to try a winter microadventure sometime over the Christmas and New Year holiday. As an incentive to go and sleep on a hill there are a few small prizes (books, DVDs, howies t-shirt, Lifedge iPhone case) for the best photos that people take. But I hope that the photos below will convince you that the true reward is being out under the stars (by yourself or with a mate) for the night and waking up to a glorious breakfast view.

On Friday night I went to a friend’s house for dinner (great chicken pie, James). Afterwards, when everyone else went to bed, I went to sleep on a hill. Weird behaviour, perhaps. But what a place to sleep! The sky was big and clear and the moon lit up the field I lay in. Winter meteors showered spectacularly across the December sky.

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My bedtime beer – a ‘Freedom Ale’ – seemed aptly named. I felt the sort of contentment so familiar to those on big, wild expeditions but that is somewhat harder to find within the constraints of normal life (tedious reminder: don’t forget to fill in your tax returns, folks). I wrapped up warm and slept well.

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I woke to the beginnings of a beautiful sunrise. Pheasants called and flapped and burst from the tree line as I stirred in my sleeping bag. Urgent snipe shot across the sky, long-beaked and silhouetted in front of the orange fire of dawn.

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I rolled over and lit my camping stove. The strong, hot espresso felt so good as it warmed and stirred my blood. I stuffed my gear into my rucksack, waved goodbye to the adventures of 2013, and headed for home and Christmas and a well-anticipated proper breakfast.

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So, please, do consider a night under the stars this Christmas time. It’s entirely compatible with nights out at the pub or friends’ houses. It’s compatible with getting home for a full day of putting up the Christmas decorations. It’s so easy to do, but so memorable, refreshing and fun!

Work out where you need to be to see the sunrise (use this great link). Tell somebody where you are going and when you’ll be back. And then go!

Here’s the stuff I took, complete with links to help you if you need more information:

If you do head off on a microadventure, please share your experience. The best way for me to persuade ‘normal’ people to do stuff like this is for other ‘normal’ people to prove that it is possible (even easy), and that it is fun (or at least fun in retrospect!).
Tag your stuff on Twitter with the hashtag #microadventure or pop something on the Microadventures Facebook Page.
If you have any friends who could benefit from a microadventure, please send them this link.

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Comments

  1. Hi Alastair,

    i have a quick question, which i am sure will be covered somewhere on this fantastic website, but i cant seem to locate it.

    - How do I convince the significant other that I will be perfectly safe going for a nice walk in the hills and spending the night camping on my own?

    She appears to be fine when i am heading off bike packing in the Pennines as long as i am with somebody else. The moment i say i am heading off solo, the panic and doom mongering starts!

    Any tips you could give would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  2. Leigh Robinson Posted

    Hi AH,

    The 5-2-9′s club will be out this weekend enjoying the solstice! Out in numbers again!!! Though not as many as the summer … lightweights!

    Reply
  3. Hi Al,
    another great idea from you. I love reading about them, but so far have never acted on it! I have a question though – your pictures all look great, and i see that you just slept in a sleeping bag. What if it had rained really hard!? You would have been soaked, cold, miserable?. The pictures would have shown a different story no? Would you have held out in the rain all night, or gone back to your friend’s house for the comfort of a warm, dry bed? I’m just wondering, as I didn’t think people did this without a tent? It looks much easier to take only a sleeping bag, but also potentially an awful, miserable experience if the weather turns nasty?!? Sorry to be a doom monger, but these are the things that come to mind…thanks!

    Reply
  4. Amy Cockburn Posted

    I am arranging this for some of the kids I work with and friends but we wanted to add a volunteer element to it. Can we do that and still call it a Microadventure? We plan to volunteer, packraft, and camp in the snow.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Sounds like a great idea.

      Reply
      • Amy Cockburn Posted

        Thanks! I did your 24 hour challenge a few months ago and had a great time! My students even did one on their own. Now we are excited to try as many as we can. I will post on your Facebook this time.

        Reply
  5. John Matthews Posted

    Me for there is no comparison, your film was far more interesting. As much as ive loved ben and James’ previous works this show was an utter farce.
    Where was the prep/training etc no respect given to the conditions or the camels and like you said there was very little time given to the background of the journey

    They spent no time preparing or training and it may as well been any two celebs on a jolly at license fee payers expense.

    Reply
  6. It must take huge strength of character not to be more critical of James and Ben’s trip. Admittedly I only watched the first episode – couldn’t stomach more than that. Neither of them seemed to be living up to the privileged position that they were in. It felt more like an episode of Top Gear (without the laughs) than a genuine adventure.

    Reply
  7. I thought you made such a good job of the film production that after 5 minutes, I’d forgotten that you didn’t have a professional camera crew following you. From a production quality point of view, it didn’t really feel much different from watching Fogle/Cracknell the previous night (apart from when their support car turned up), and I enjoyed your film more.

    Reply
  8. John smerdon Posted

    The claims about the trip being tougher than Thesiger’s really got under my skin, how can they possibly compare that journey to his! I understand the expedition was a great physical challenge and I empathized with them trying to rekindle there friendship, but for me the way the show was narrated and the lack of passion for the the journey at least on Cracknells part really shone through and made it feel like an episode of bob grillz manvswild.

    Reply
  9. It is good that one team did the Empty Quarter. Two teams doing the same thing using two different modes is even better.

    I am more interested in your book on YOUR adventure. It will be fun reading your work giving tribute not only to Thesiger, but also to other British and early Arab / Muslim adventurers.

    Reply
  10. I prefer your version Al to be honest. I find it difficult to watch any expeditions on tv these days that have been undertaken with mass consumption in mind. They remind me of René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images – ‘This is not a pipe’.

    Reply
  11. Morad Echarkaoui Posted

    Thank you for this challenge. I did my very first micro-adventure on december 21st in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France.

    A few minutes before I left (at 1800), it started raining but I was decided to do this adventure no matter what. I rode my bike in the countryside to a natural park. It was errie being in the woods alone.

    I stopped to watch swans, ducks and other animals. There was a beautiful lake and I was looking for a nice place to set up my camp. I went through muddy terrain but I eventually found the perfect spot, right by a big tree and the lake.

    I left my bike and my backpack to go geocahing. It was my first time trying. There was a cache 1 kilometer from where I was and I found it ! It was quite fun.

    I went back to my camp and started preparing dinner with my stove. I had brought a tent cover that I used as a tarp to protect myself from the rain.

    After eating my warm lentils, I read a book, I watch the lake and the woods.

    It was windy too so I didn’t sleep much but it felt great !!!!

    Reply

 
 

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