30 Day Challenge to Overnight Hiking

For many of us outdoor lovers, the thought of taking the step from day walks to overnight hiking (ie. camping out) with everything on our backs, can sometimes feel more like a bungee jump, than a single step.

The truth is, with the right knowledge and some practice, it can simply be a matter of lots of small steps and not a death defying leap.

Overnight HIking
Let’s do this together!

If you’re lucky enough to have grown up in an outdoorsy family, gone through Scouts, be a member of a bushwalking club or have some awesomely patient and experienced friends, then the roadmap to this knowledge is already within your reach. If this doesn’t describe you, then it could be hard to even know where to go to find the map, let alone join the dots.

So that’s why I’ve decided to put together all the essential info into one place, delivered bit by bit, so we don’t get overwhelmed. Think of me like Siri… with a backpack. You’re welcome.

But unlike the times you’ve found yourself alone in the car yelling at Siri, “No, I said call Brian, not feed the lion!”, you won’t be alone with a disconnected digital voice. By joining with us on this 30 Day Challenge, you’ll actually be part of a wonderful group of people, all learning at the same time, able to support each other and ask questions in a private Facebook group. Even though we’ll all be going through the program in our own homes and local areas, essentially, we’ll be walking the pathway to our first overnight hike, together. Yay.

A nice idea… but what does it mean?

It means that I’ve broken down the steps to get you on your way to overnight walks and popped them into a 30 day planner. There’s a lot in there, so this will help us not get overwhelmed and just take it day by day, step by step, until you reach your big hero two day adventure at the end.

What type of stuff will it cover? What will I learn?

There’s a task for each day of the month and they fall under the categories of:

  • Accountability
  • Learning
  • Personal Insights
  • Fitness
  • Planning and Prep

Within the five areas we will look at the practical things like gear, food, clothing, packing, footwear and finding walks to do, all whilst gradually building up our fitness for carrying a full pack. We’ll also touch on safety and how to care for ourselves, as well as our precious and amazing environment.

Who is this challenge for?

If you’ve wanted to look up at the immense night sky, blanketed in a ba-zillion stars, sleep comfortably in nature, wake up with the dawn and #WanderWithNoWifi for a whole weekend… it’s for you.
If you love bushwalking and spending time in nature, but have always felt the need to go home after a few hours or at the end of the day, wondering what it would be like to stay out there, completely self sufficient… it’s for you.
If you’ve always wanted to try overnight or multi-day walks, but felt you lacked the knowledge and confidence to give it a try… it’s for you.
If you’ve tried it once or twice, but would like to learn a few more tips on how you can have a better, safer and more enjoyable experience… it’s for you.
Oh and of course… if you’ve ever carried a whole fresh cauliflower on a hike… it’s definitely for you.

Will this make me an expert?

I wish! Everytime I step off the concrete and head into wild places I learn something new and find better ways of doing things. In fact, that’s one of the amazing things about the bush… it teaches us things all the time. So no, this 30 days isn’t about making you an expert, it’s simply about giving you knowledge and boosting your confidence to take on your first overnight bushwalk or hike.

Speaking of learning new things, Autumn 2017 is the first time that I’ve run this challenge and so we’re definitely going to be learning things together. Bringing people together in this way is all new to me!

I’m busy! How can I fit this in?

I’ve written the plan based upon being able to do it even if you work full time.

How much time will it take each day?

Some tasks are as short as watching a 3 minute video, whereas others, like the walking tasks, will take more. If you’ve already got a routine to exercise 3 or so times a week, then you’ll find it easier than those who don’t already have this habit down pat.

When will the program be sent to me?

Rather than give you everything at once, you’ll receive an email each week with the plan, along with special resources and extra bonuses such as checklists, worksheets and planning tools. The first email will arrive on the 30th March.

What if I can’t do everything on the plan? Should I just give up?

Nah, not at all. Obviously, the more you’re able to put in, the more you’ll get out of it, but if you’re struggling with time, just pick the most important parts of each week such as the learning and fitness tasks. Remember, you can always adjust your goal along the way and change to an easier two day walk if you need to. This is about just doing what you can, not letting anyone feel like a failure.

How fit do I need to be?

You need to be in good health, preferably without nursing any injuries, to get the most out of this. One of the first tasks we look at is our existing fitness and where we’re at now, before setting achievable goals for ourselves at the end. This is about setting ourselves up for success, not failure. If this means that based on your current fitness and experience your end goal walk is 5kms each way on a flat firetrail, then that’s fine. But if you’re further down your fitness and pack carrying journey, then you can set a goal that’s more challenging and work towards that.

Can I do this from home?

That’s the whole idea. Well, until you need to get out and walk!

How do we do this “together”?

The ability to ask questions (there are no dumb ones) in a supportive and friendly environment is key. There will be a private Facebook Group only for those who’ve signed up. The other great thing about this is that it adds to our accountability. This is the place where we can share our learnings, offer suggestions, ask questions, even possibly find people in our local area who we can do our final overnight and training walks with. I aim to schedule in a weekly Facebook meeting where I’ll be live, answer questions and encourage discussion where we can all jump in and help each other out.

So what’s the “challenge” part?

Well, even though I’m serving up all this stuff to you in weekly, bite-sized chunks, I’m not going to do the work for you. This is about taking a hold of one of your goals, sleeping out in nature, committing to the task and doing the work. The work itself isn’t hard, but for all of us who live busy lives, with a crazy amount of commitments, the challenge is sticking with it. Another great reason that the private Facebook Group is a good place to go for support and encouragement to just keep going.

Shut up and take my money

Glad you’re keen, but I’ve put this 30 Day Challenge together for you for free. Yep. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Why? It comes back to the reason that I started LotsaFreshAir – It’s all about encouraging and inspiring people to get out there and connect with nature and themselves.

So hang on, why are you doing this?

I’ve written a bit about it in the past, but in a nutshell, bushwalking changed my life. I didn’t come from one of those outdoorsy families and so wild places were a mystery to me. But it was the mystery and call of adventure (from reading too much Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree as a child!) that kept me curious and egged me on. My biggest barrier to getting out there was that I was the fat kid who struggled physically and in terms of confidence. But what I lacked in confidence, I made up for by trying just about anything. Yes, I even tried synchronised swimming and physical culture!

What does cauliflower have to do with this?

Everything. My first try at bushwalking was teaming up with the only person I knew who liked bushwalking (my cousin) and attempting the Katoomba to Mittagong walk. This 124 km “Ensign Barrellier Walk” takes you from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, to the Southern Highlands and is usually done over 6-7 days. I say attempt, because we only made it to day 3 and even then, only just. I realised as the sun went down, whilst descending Mt Debert towards Medlow Gap (having left Katoomba Station at 10am) that I was waaay out of my depth and my pack was stupid heavy. Actually, I realised my pack was stupid heavy much earlier… somewhere along the 13km fire-trail road bash that Narrowneck is famous for. I had no idea of the implications of pack weight and as a result, I carried a whole fresh cauliflower. My cousin carried the broccoli. Within a day, I was in pain and exhausted as the sun bore down on us trudging along Scotts Main Range. By night number two (also arriving in the dark) I was so exhausted that I collapsed onto my sleeping bag (didn’t even get in it), without eating. I was miserable. Where was the joyous adventure that I dreamed of? Where was that sun-glinting-in-my-eyes, fresh-faced-smiley-outdoors experience that I saw in Paddy Pallin catalogues? I knew it must exist, but it sure wasn’t here in my own personal hell. All I needed was rain and that would seal the deal for me. The next day I got it (along with thunder and lightning), and it did. We pulled out at the mid-way point at the ghost town of Yerranderie with our tails between our legs. There had to be a better way… and there was.

Long(er) story short, I joined a Bushwalking Club, where the patient and occasionally quirky members taught me everything I know. I’ve never looked back. Bushwalking has given me so much. For all the sweaty, challenging and astounding moments, it’s given back to me in spades. Not just physically, by giving me a form of exercise and then weight loss that I actually loved, but by teaching me some of the biggest lessons in life. Things like leadership, communication, managing change, adaptability and resilience just to start. It’s like an MBA of the wilderness. #WildernessMBA!

LotsaFreshAir is all about me wanting to pass on some of the things I’ve learnt about bushwalking, that have helped make it so awesome to me… in the hope that it will also help others.

With over 10,000 people involved in bushwalking clubs in NSW, contrasted against statistics on the number of people in the state who go bushwalking, it’s clear to see that there’s millions of people who (for whatever reason) aren’t benefiting from the amazing knowledge and experience that these clubs hold.

However, when we look at the rise of interest in outdoor adventure and increase of visitors (and their impacts) to our incredible national parks and other natural areas, it’s obvious that the knowledge that is held within clubs needs to be shared.

A word about your privacy

By signing up, I can assure you that I don’t sell your email address or share it with anyone else. At the end of the 30 days, if you’re not already part of the Lotsa email family, I’ll pop you on to receive these updates, but I don’t do spam!

So, now that’s all out of the way, where do I sign up?

Well, signups have now closed for Round 1, but if you follow this link and leave your details I’ll send you notice of when the next round starts. Yay!

I’m glad you asked. Simply follow this link.

Writer, producer and content creator by trade, search and rescue volunteer by passion, Caro Ryan started LotsaFreshAir.com to inspire, teach and encourage people to get into hiking and the outdoors safely.

It’s all about connecting people to wild places in meaningful ways, so they can look after themselves, their mates and these precious places we visit.

She teaches wilderness navigation, authored the book, ‘How to Navigate’ and hosts, ‘Rescued - an Outdoor Podcast for Hikers and Adventurers.

In the bottom of her pack you'll find coffee grounds, instant noodles past their used by date and an insatiable curiosity.

Bushwalking & Hiking Tips from an Unexpected Outdoors Chick

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