My idea to create a walking tour for women happened on a massage table.
I love my massages but the idea once planted had me wishing for the first time ever, for a massage to be over.
The idea persisted, nagged for days afterwards and eventually when I shared it with some close business buddies at Sass Place Community Hub, the reaction was encouraging and instant.
“Walking tours for women? Oh that’s awesome, when are you doing this?”
“How much is it? Actually I don’t care, where can I sign up?”
“When can we book?”
I initially just wanted women to feel ridiculously awesome about themselves for completing a walking tour, particularly a multi-day trek. But I couldn’t stop there with the feeling good bit. Imagine if their tour supported a local cause or charity with part proceeds? How about a walking group to get them ready for walking the distance, information sessions on how to get the right gear, and on and on the ideas flowed.
I wasn’t expecting that kind of positive encouragement when I first shared my idea. Over the years, I have had mixed reactions when I tell people some of the treks and trips I have been on.
Some women would hear my stories in awe, “Oh wow, I could never do that, good on you! I wouldn’t know where to start!”
Or others in disgust, “what? No shower for a week and a long drop toilet? Ew! You call that a holiday?”
Some would listen and say they would love to give this adventure travel thing a go, but their partner wasn’t keen or they simply weren’t brave enough or lacked the confidence to do it solo.
Or they just didn’t “get” what it did for me. The subject would be quickly changed.
Every active/adventure travel experience has been a learning experience for me whether it’s cultural enlightenment, new language skills, self-discovery or achieving a new goal. Often I would come away from these experiences feeling a million bucks or better!
Firstly the sense of accomplishment and achievement was so satisfying and immediately left me wanting more.
Secondly I had time away from the day to day busyness of life. I had time with nature, time with my husband, fresh air, my boots and a backpack and life beyond a screen, 4 walls and a clock.
Finally, I gained clarity, direction and the motivation to further put myself outside of my comfort zone. To become fitter, stronger, more caring, more patient – to become a better version of myself.
Granted, I never had to try this stuff alone, I had always been with my hubby or tour groups. To have faced these active travel challenges on my own, would have been a lot more intimidating, especially with less women to share the journey with (though women are now making up well over 50% of the active/adventure traveller market these days) and especially if they are new to the game.
So Wise Women Walking was born.
I created an itinerary that was going to appeal to beginners and those who wanted to be challenged. I picked a 4 day walk that could be completed over 5 days – 72km in total. I also chose a track that supported non-walkers with alternative water transport. A rarity with many trekking adventures!
We had been given generous discount vouchers from our local Kathmandu store allowing our women to purchase much needed boots, day packs, hydration packs, walking poles and clothing. These vouchers helped our women get the necessary equipment when starting out with nothing, making a huge difference to how prepared our women were for our trip.
10 weeks before departure, we commenced our weekly group training walks where we would cover lots of questions about the walk and preparation. We met either on a Saturday or Sunday morning and slowly built up our walking time from 90 minutes to 5 hours. Some of our sessions were gradual and easy, others were longer and tougher, demanding more from those who were unaccustomed to walking long distances or in hilly locations.
So our trip departed with 11 of us in total, 2 hosts, myself and Life Coach Sarah Adamson from the Happiness Experts. Sarah is an experienced trekker, paramedic and mother to 2 beautiful daughters and many fur children. In addition to being an amazing Life Coach, Sarah shares the same vision after feeling a huge sense of fulfilment, accomplishment and self-discovery after completing the Kokoda track in 2015. Her role on our trip was to facilitate informal group discussions, 1:1 chats on our “rest” day and set a theme for each day while on the track.
Our group was aged 34-70 and consisted of mothers, carers, survivors of illness and solo women. I likened them to warriors in their own right. They all had their stories and they all had their intentions for being there. For some it was about walking every step of the track. For others, it was about pushing themselves, accepting their limits and being proud of what they had done. The satisfaction and reward I felt when I watched the testimonial videos they had kindly made for me still brings tears to my eyes.
The sense of achievement, accomplishment and increased confidence was evident.
The feeling of escape, clarity and reflection was magical.
The fun, the laughter the bonding was incredible.
The beautiful souls that came together for 10 days of adventure, went home more than just Wise Women.
Post – script
Part proceeds of our trip were donated to a local tutoring organisation (Kip Mc Grath Holdfast Bay) who support young careers of siblings and/or parents with a disability with their tuition. We were able donate nearly 2 terms of tuition for one inspiring young female carer. Young Carers often have extra caring duties and responsibilities that can prevent full time attendance at school, homework support and accessing learning opportunities the same as their peers.
Big Heart Adventures was proud to support a young female carer with our first trip through our Give Back program. Our cheque handover ceremony was well-attended with many of our Wise Women coming to meet the family and share the act of giving.
This completed the journey for our Wise Women…for now……