How to be moderately adventurous!

12 July 2020 | Climb


By Tommy.

I know. You want to be moderately adventurous. You don’t want to climb Everest, or even go to base camp. Who does? (answer: many people, and this is ok too). You don’t want to live your life in the wild either, but it’d be nice to take a peek, attempt the proverbial toe dip. Trouble is, every time you dip your toe there’s someone deeper in the water who spent years becoming a dive master and swimming with whales. But why should that diminish your experience? Why should that keep you away from the water altogether? Where is this water anyway?

So get your textbooks for dummies out everyone and turn to page rock and roll, because we’re learning how to informally explore the world! (with moderate skill at best). YES!

The breathe up









I breathe in, filling my belly, snorkel mask on. it’s going to be touch and go but we might just make it. It’s normal to feel a bit light-headed at this stage, I tell myself. I run through the important things I’ve just learned. Water on your face stimulates the mammalian dive reflex. Saying ‘how’s the vis’ makes you sound cool. I breathe out.

Adjusting my mask, I inhale to fill my belly, then my chest, ready for the long hold. Not far now. Gosh, I hope we make it.

I reach out and hold onto the glove box handle. I’m in the passenger seat and we’re trying to get to the bakery before it closes. Critical! Just as importantly, I’m trying to get savvy to swim with the free diving crew. Don’t worry, I won’t be going deep – but I will be joining in.

The takeaway

So what can we learn from this story? Firstly, saying ‘how’s the vis’ absolutely does make you sound cool. Secondly, there is room for us all in nature’s fecund arms, highly skilled or no.

Remember what they say: why let a beautiful dream slip through your fingers, just because you haven’t dedicated your entire life to holding things with your fingers?

The first step is admitting you don’t have a problem

If you ask me – and by virtue of reading this article, you are – there’s a touch of adventure hierarchy floating around. The more extreme, the better. Only the outrageous allowed. It’s time to put an end to that once and for all. Life is better with trees and there is no reason why the moderately adventurous among us cannot wander with gentle step. You CAN day-hike your days away without becoming a mountaineer. So pop your hat on, take my hand, and let us take a stroll into the supreme abyss. (read: let’s go outside).

Here are my tried and true tips:

1. Set a moderately adventurous goal

I’ll bet you thought goal setting was safe in the realm of high school and self-help books. Think again, because the Scrub and Shovel School of Moderate Outdoorsing is all about it. There is nothing more motivating AND enjoyable than having something wonderful to work towards. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • complete a hike over multiple sessions, eg Yurrebilla, Heysen, other walks
  • go outdoor climbing
  • climb a grade (you pick the grade)
  • destination adventure (Tassie, New Zealand, Patagonia, Camino de Santiago)
  • Learn to snorkel/dive
  • climb a coconut tree
  • summit a mountain (you pick the mountain (doesn’t have to be a massive mountain))
  • authentically retrace the footsteps of Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson

Your goal can be whatever you want it to be – whatever challenges you and makes your heart sing. This really is one of the fun bits. Ride on the crest of excitement! Dive to the depth that you choose! Eat cake! Dissolve the edges of your world! 

2. Have a go-to activity

Ok, down to business. This is your bread and butter activity, the thing that you can return to any time. Do this between adventures, to check-in with your progress, or to get back out there if it’s been a while.

Your go-to activity needs to be:
  • accessible
  • familiar
  • moderately challenging, but not mammoth enough to keep you inside watching TV (unless there is a good show on then that is OK)
Your go-to activity should not be:
  • overseas
  • really expensive
  • imaginary

It might be an ocean swim, a Morialta climb, or a walk in the national park (btw check out the latest in our Top 5 northern adelaide walks). It might be a quick hike up Brown Hill with a couple of friends followed by a delicious pub meal. I don’t know, that’s just an idea that has nothing to do with me.

3. Ask for help

When people come into the Scout Outdoor Centre and ask questions, it is the best thing ever! Information is gold and one should never feel self-conscious about seeking more, nor about where they’re starting from.

Similarly, on the trail, at the crag, it’s ALWAYS a better idea to ask and learn rather than fudge your way through – particularly if safety is involved. You don’t have to go it alone! 

And when you are alone, make sure you’re well prepared by asking your questions in advance. If you don’t know something there’s no shame in it, and tears are NOT an effective survival strategy. You should absolutely not cry yourself to sleep over it alone in your tent. This is a particularly bad idea if you haven’t put the tent up properly.

4. Spend time with other adventure people

No man is an island, and an adventure shared is an adventure quadrupled. Why do you think Tom Hanks made friends with a volleyball? There are several incidental benefits to this step, but the one we will unpack here is about your baseline. If you surround yourself with people who do cool things, this will slowly but surely become your new normal. You’re raising your baseline, which puts a lot more within your reach. Like alchemy, hill walks become mountain walks, camping on a weeknight doesn’t seem outrageous, and a weekend trip to Arapiles is a breakfast decision. You’re not reaching for the highest star here, you’re just putting yourself up there in the galaxy.

How to start?  Join a hiking group, a climbing group, make a friend, hang out in outdoor spaces – and shops. Don’t overthink it. Just put yourself near the people, and slowly let the magic happen.

5. Give yourself a moderately adventurous name

There is a time-honoured tradition of receiving a trail name on a thru-hike, particularly that legendary walk, the Pacific Crest Trail. We’re not delving into this phenomenon here, but we are borrowing from it. For now we will settle for a simple token, nay, symbol, of your new life. 

When my friend Scott became Scott Bellyair, don’t you think he took his diving to the next level? Not keen on naming yourself? That’s cool, name your gear instead. When my brother named his backpack Hillary (re: Edmund), don’t you think it helped to cement their relationship on the trail? Call it trivial, dismiss this one if you like – but at your own peril.

Peril is probably too strong a word.

6.  Have a strategy for injuries and setbacks

So look it’s all well and good to dedicate yourself to a life of extreme moderate adventure – but what happens when something happens? I’ll tell you what happens. Strategy.

Want to go climbing but you broke your ankle climbing? Go on a road trip instead! Get onto your physio exercises and start planning your next trip!

Can’t go literally anywhere but here because of COVID-19 restrictions? Keep working on the other steps, re-position your plans to South Australia, make longer-term plans for elsewhere.

Couch-ridden from a mosquito-borne virus? Read an adventure magazine, read this blog, get a book, absorb all the info and inspo you can!

7. OK now GO

You know how to be moderately adventurous now. Stop hesitating. Now is the time to do one thing that makes you feel more alive. One thing that will take you a step closer to your next adventure. I don’t care what it is, just do it. What are you still doing here? GO!

OK so you decided to read the rest of this first. That’s cool, you’re literally three sentences from the end so it probably makes more sense. You know what to do when you’re finished.

Spread your wings and wiggle the evolutionary remnants of your tail, for the wilderness is within us, and that is to be celebrated!

Yours always, in adventure.