AS I rolled my ankle on yet another exposed rock, causing me to stagger sideways into the branch of an inconveniently placed snow gum that swiped the side of my head before poking me in the eye, I reflected upon the joy of the great outdoors.
The beaded sweat on my brow, caused by the vicious sun and my heaving pack, only added to my feeling of connectedness to nature and the beauty surrounding me.
Starting the walk at 2pm on a summer’s day seemed like a good idea at the time. Hmm ...
Advocating time outdoors might seem at odds with this situation but it didn’t stop me hurtling across new terrain the next day.
After a night’s sleep I jumped on my second-hand bike in my second-hand shoes and, frighteningly, my second-hand shorts to resume my battle with the elements.
After a glance at my average speed (bit below what I would like), time spent riding (25 minutes at this stage) and fastest speed achieved (not worth sharing that one), I took in the distant mountains, the breeze in my face and the cows grazing in the paddocks.
I take a deep breath and thank the prevailing gods for allowing me this time of peace and tranquillity.
A roar and woosh of a passing truck shook me out of this reflection and back into the world of a cyclist looking for the widest road shoulder in the district.
These are the challenges that become part of my adventures in the outdoors.
They do not need to be complicated and expensive journeys, like those told in books we buy for Christmas.
They can be quite simple. For instance, a walk to the shops allows a check on a neighbour’s gardening endeavours, the new roof on the house down the street, the beautifully maintained gardens around the corner and the interesting coffee shop across the road from the station.
Stepping outside the door on a hot and steamy evening opens up a conversation with the elderly lady walking her dog.
I can keep walking to the river, where I sit and watch it meander its way from the mountains towards the ocean.
Gum trees lean over me, leaves bent and withered after a day of heat. But they have seen many of these days and will see many more.
I find a seat that allows me to take in the scene and a gentle breeze brushes over me. The beauty of summer.
Ouch! I slap at my feet as mosquitoes begin their nightly sortie. These drones remind me of nature’s perils.
Yes, the outdoors is not always safe, known or secure, but it does open the door for the mind and body to seek a better place.
Peter Mills is an outdoor education teacher and North East camping regular.