Originally, Whit in the Wild was my travel blog when I was riding across western Canada. During my gap year after high school, I had dabbled in travel blogging, mainly to keep my family at home appraised of all the amazing experiences I was having as an 18 year old out there in the big wide world for the first time.
Amazingly it is still up and has helped me relive that very influential period in my life. I enjoyed the experience, and it seemed like the people that read it did as well, although admittedly they were limited to my close friends and family. On my next big adventure, biking solo from Vancouver to Fernie then through rural Scotland with my boyfriend, it seemed like a good idea to get blogging again, and so Whit in the Wild was born.
This new iteration was also spawned from an extended trip. Taking time away from my normal job, which doesn’t involve a lot of creativity, I realised that in pursuit of my career and my life outside work, I had neglected parts of myself. Good parts that were worth spending time and effort developing.
Almost 10 years ago, a mentor of mine told me that you need something outside of your work that you find intellectually stimulating. At that time the only thing I did outside of work was ride my bike and go surfing, both of which are great things, but did not meet his threshold of cerebral exercise. I have been looking for my intellectual pursuit since then, trying out a few new things over the years. It took this extended trip to help me realise for a long time I had been neglecting exactly what I had been looking for.
As a kid I was an enthusiastic reader. It didn’t take long until I wanted to try writing some stuff myself. I think the first time I realised I had a bit of a knack for it was when I won a short story competition in primary school. I won $500, which is a good chunk of cash now, let alone when my only expenses were corner shop lollies and movie tickets. An anthology of stories entered in the competition was published and for the first time I saw my words printed onto the pages of a real life book. I liked the look of it, a lot. Maybe I could be an writer?
In high school I still read and wrote a fair bit, but other things in my life started gaining more importance. My writing skill became a handy tool in my back pocket rather than something I would devote time to developing. It got me a partial scholarship to attend high school, helped me get better marks in essays, won me a set of signed Tamora Pierce books. I deliberately picked regular English over English Literature because I could get good marks without any study by coming up with a short story for the ‘Writing’ third of the exam. My subjects became primarily maths and science, and I suppose that was the beginning of the abandonment of my creativity.
When I decided to start writing again, I needed something worth writing about, something that would reignite the one remaining ember still smouldering in my creative hearth. The old advice ‘write what you know’ seemed like a reasonable place to start. And I only know about two things, my job and the outdoors. Given this was supposed to be my intellectual pursuit outside of work, I settled on the outdoors. There are a million outdoor blogs about what gear to buy, where to go, how to pack and so on, written by actual professional outdoors people. I am but an enthusiastic amateur who really loves going outside and I want to write stuff that my fellow non-professional outdoor kin will find funny and inspiring. Stuff that can fill the nature void when life gets in the way of adventuring. Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to get outside more?
My journey with the outdoors started as a kid on car camping holidays with my family. Running feral in the forest, swimming in the ocean, toasting marshmallows over a fire, all the classic tropes. We camped all over Australia every school holidays. When I was older, I was lucky enough to attend a high school that had an amazing outdoor education department. I signed up for every surf camp, sailing trip and bushwalking adventure available. I ended up becoming mates with the outdoor education teachers, some of whom are still my friends today.
When I graduated from high school, I decided to go on a gap year and volunteer at a summer camp outside of Squamish in British Columbia. I had the greatest time. I made lifelong friends, learnt loads about bushcraft and went on some incredible trips. The outdoors cemented its place in my life and has been there for me ever since. I have trekked through the south Tasmanian wilderness, splitboarded the Grand Plateau on Aoraki’s east face, bikepacked on four different continents and tramped many kilometres with friends and family. Sharing the stories collected during these adventures form the basis of this blog and I hope they will inspire more people to get outside and collect adventure stories of their own.