The outdoor diary of a writer, photographer, and wilderness wanderer
That’s me above, Andrew Terrill, a suburban Londoner who now calls Colorado home (and who still has to pinch himself every morning when he looks out the window).
As you may have already gathered, I like to get out into wild nature. It’s my favorite thing to do (aside from spending time with my wife and playing with my children, of course!) But yes, I love to pull on a backpack, step out the front door, and disappear into the wild for days, months, even years at a time… to lose myself completely within the natural world.
Well, we all have our problems.
Perhaps surprisingly, I didn’t grow up in wild nature. Home was an environment of streets, houses, more streets, and more houses. Throughout my childhood mountains, forests, grasslands, and deserts were all abstract concepts, more fiction than fact, as remote as the moon. (Except I could see the moon). What limited knowledge I had of untrammeled nature came from books and TV, where the wild was almost always a hostile environment people had to fight to overcome, a place where the human species simply didn’t belong. ‘We’ were separate from nature… and existed ‘above’ it. As a child I took this for fact. As an adult I know many people who still appear to believe it. It’s one of the reasons why the world’s in the mess it’s in.
I didn’t step foot onto a mountain until I was fifteen, but the second I did everything changed. ‘Head-over-heals’ doesn’t begin to describe it; there was no going back. Afterwards, heading out into nature became an obsession. College wasn’t about academics; it was about escaping into the hills at every opportunity. My twenties weren’t about building a career or fitting into society; they were about freedom, adventure; about open trails leading onwards to who knew what or where. Life revolved around wilderness journeys, always undertaken alone, always on foot, and as time passed the journeys grew ever longer…
On May 1st 1997 I began the longest journey of them all, a walk I hoped would be ‘more than just a walk’. I set out to walk solo and unsupported across an entire continent, aiming to visit eight countries, traverse four distinct mountains ranges, and endure eight seasons, carrying everything I needed on my back. I set out not to get somewhere but to be somewhere. Reaching a destination had absolutely nothing to do with it.
What followed was all-consuming adventure, an experience both challenging and rewarding beyond my wildest expectations. It became an expression of simplicity and freedom, a celebration of life, a way of being true to who I was and true to the life I knew I was meant to be living. The journey connected me to the natural world that supports us all, and proved to me once and for all that we don’t have to follow the predictable path society too-often seems to expect and demand. I believe with a passion we have a choice in all things, in how we live our lives, in the trails we take, in how we deal with situations we can’t control. The point is we are in control. Choice – that’s the thing – and in 1997 I chose to immerse myself in a long walk through wild nature, a journey that would take me to highs and lows I never imagined I’d see, and ultimately teach a great treasure trove of life altering truths.
Since then, I’ve been trying to practice all I learnt, as perhaps you’ll see in my blog. I hope some of the lessons from my walk across Europe will prove useful to others, not just to myself, and that some of the adventures will inspire. I was once an introvert – unconfident and uncertain. But my journeys changed me. Completely. They showed me the benefits that come from reaching out to others, the enrichment that comes from sharing, the positivity that comes from making connections. This blog is written for the sharing, written in the hope others will find truths they can connect with. After all, I know I am not the only one who feels the call of nature, or who has a restless spirit, or who wants to live the very best life they can live… and who wants to have fun while doing it.
Perhaps you do too?
But that’s me, anyway. Happy to be alive, never taking it for granted, determined to make it count. Hope to see you in the hills…