Discover more from Travelling Lines Adventure Squad (Where's Emily?)
Is it Spring yet?
No you’re not going mad, it’s definitely not the first Sunday in February. I’m back from some gallivanting and very much enjoying the sunshine streaming in through my shed-office windows (more shed than office at the moment, let’s be honest). But when it’s warmer in the shed than in the house, you can’t say no to working outside - or at least I can’t!
So, this is me snatching a moment between trips to catch you up on the past month and a bit… Let’s get started.
Winter Mountain Leader Training ✔️
I am pleased to announce that I have fiiiiinally completed my winter mountain leader training. It has been such a long stint that I was utterly not psyched for it by the time the course came around in January. After all, I’d planned to do it in 2021 (not possible due to covid travel restrictions), got half way in 2022 (had to go home due to covid outbreak) and have now finally done the full week in 2023.
We were at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms and, despite starting out with really low energy and an “I just want to finish the course” mindset, I had a fantastic week. The group were excellent (amazingly 4 out of 8 of us were in Mountain Rescue, which is not normal). The weather was better than last time. The leaders were enthusiastic and worked us hard. Exactly what you want from a training course.
I’ll tell the story in full on the blog (I promise!) but for now… I had a candlelit dinner in a snow hole with Phoebe, thoroughly enjoyed myself on night nav and just learnt a lot about leading in winter. We rarely walked very far, but we packed a whole load in (including ropework, snow anchors, avalanche awareness, lectures, homework… one night’s chill time in the bar).
Now it’s just a case of getting in some more QMDs in Scotland, which is a hell of a haul from Devon, and maybe I’ll take the assessment. I think they said in my 1 on 1 debrief that I’d be a ‘good candidate for assessment’ if I got my logbook sorted, but I was so focussed on the action points I’m not 100% sure. Either way, fab week and many more winter adventures to come.
Other Adventure things
I’ve just got back from a week in the Lake District with friends, which was meant to be a winter trip but there was no snow. A tiny patch of ice on top of Scafell Pike was the most of it. But it was nice to just have relaxed walks, average weather and not feel the need to make the most out of everything. Discovered a fun new ghyll scramble and discovered that my Salomon Super Cross trainers have zero grip on wet rock (no… on the Coledale Round not in the ghyll scramble).
Next up is Morocco at the end of the month. Fingers and toes crossed for good snow conditions in the High Atlas.
John Muir Trail Update
There is now a mostly-complete John Muir Trail page up on my website. It is becoming more and more real! I’ve got my US passport. I’ve got a permit to hike the trail (northbound) from the end of June. If all goes to plan then I’ll arrive in Yosemite on my 30th birthday. I can’t even describe how unreal that all sounds. But what a way to return to America.
Now I need to book flights and all the logistics of it. I think I roughly no my route and where I’ll be doing town stops etc. Then there’s also insurance and some kit to think about (did someone say bear cannister?). The end of June is still quite early in the season so I’ll probably need an ice axe and micro spikes. (To see what I’m imagining, watch Elina’s video.)
And of course I need to pay for it all. I’m applying to lots of grants, but also looking to pitch stories about the trip to editors. Maybe a lovely brand or two would be able to sponsor the trip. We shall see. Please keep any available fingers and toes crossed on my behalf.
On Debt and Freelancing
I’ve been toying with talking about this for some time. If I haven’t deleted this section, then I guess I’ve finally decided to say it. Not quite as public as a blog post but still maybe over sharing. Especially because I’m not entirely sure who you lot are (yes you) that I’m writing to - are you here because you read my book or stumbled across me online? Anyway, feel free to skip this if it’s boring or comes across as odd.
Basically I, like many people in the UK in their late 20s, have a lot of debt. I’ve never really thought about myself as someone who has debt. I’m sensible when it comes to spending and budgeting, have never been overdrawn on a credit card etc etc. But I do have two big things: a student loan and a mortgage. Culturally, I feel like my generation are told not to think about either of those things as real debt. They’re just things you acquire on the way to being an adult and you’re never really meant to get rid of them. They just are.
Yet when all the chips are counted, I’m actually somewhere around minus £150,000. Which is HUGE.
Obviously I’m not looking for sympathy or whatever. I made all those choices and I don’t regret any of them (okay well maybe university). But put back in that situation again, with what I knew then, I would have still made the same decisions. And life has a weird way of taking you on an ambling path. Either way, it’s done now.
But I feel like it’s something that ought to be talked about a bit more. Because there are probably loads of us in this situation - whatever kind of debt it is - and we are just merrily going on ignoring it, because it’s easier not to look.
Well, I’ve decided I’m going to look and I’m going to talk about it more. And the money side of what I do: freelancing, online business, the adventure industry. Because I feel like it looks too glamourous from the outside and you don’t see the mess on the inside. (Especially all the people who email me asking how to get into adventure travel writing.) And I’m going to try to pay off that debt. I don’t know how, but I’ve been inspired to at least say it out loud by stumbling across Aja Dang’s videos on YouTube (this and this). She managed to pay off $200k of debt as a freelancer. Maybe somehow I can too.
Other Work and Writing Things
The question is, have I finished my book yet? And the answer is no, still not quite… still not quite… I just need to chain myself to a desk a bit more often.
The same goes for blog posts. I’ve got some stories that I just need to sit down and schedule in, but I’ve been finding paid work has taken priority in the past few months. (I feel like I’m always saying this, sorry.) If you didn’t see it, my Dartmoor post about the court hearing is a very thorough analysis of a topic very close to my heart. OMM and Winter MLT stories soon.
I am very open to more writing work at the moment. With MPora and Outdoors Magic both announcing closure, two of my go-to publications, I really need to start pitching broader. Here are some recent gear guides I wrote (Ice Axes, Crampons, Gloves, Winter Boots) which aren’t exactly light reading, but if you’re looking to buy a pair…!
I’d also like to start taking on more SEO work again. Not in the writing articles sense, but the overall strategy and audits of websites. This makes my Maths brain happy and puts over 7 years of experience to good use. No project too small - if you’re even vaguely curious, or know someone who might like some help, please do get in touch.
Something a little less serious before I sign off. My parents have been looking for baby photos of me in Yosemite. Here is a gem of a photo with Half Dome in the background.
It’s me in a pink onesie and it turns out that’s me being introduced to snow for the first time. And from my face I don’t look too impressed by it at all! (“What on earth is this. I don’t like it.”) Glad I changed my mind :)
Have a lovely month and speak soon,