Mike Simpson

About Last Night, Asleep on a Hillside

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Not all adventures need to be epic, some don’t need much planning or even need a weekend. Microadventures seems to be very popular now, in the past I’ve used a bivi bag a lot during hikes, it’s so much more fun than a tent and means you have so much less to carry. A bivi bag was very useful on the three Thames walks I did, where I just wanted to bed down for an hour just to take the weight off my legs. There does seem to be a variation in the rules/guidelines of microadventuring. There are some that stipulate a distance that needs to be travelled, or a limit on what kit to take or even the essential inclusion of a morning swim in the adjacent lake! For me it’s just whatever and wherever I fancy.

So I set off from home just before midnight and within minutes it starts raining, typical. No worries, let’s do this!!! The pace is slow, I’m on my old MTB bike with a rucksac on my back. I’ve already trained this morning so my legs are not too impressed with me getting back on a bike. After a few miles I pass an odd sight, I didn't realise it at first but the road is covered with hundred of white frogs, for 50 metres I am swerving around then, I think I kept the casualty rate to a minimum!  An hour later I’m pushing my bike up a hill off road and off track. It’s steep, awkward and unrideable but I’ll look forward to bombing down it in the morning.

It’s pitch black at the top, away from the road and a long way from the nearest house. Just where I plan to kip down I startle a load of, what I think at the time are sheep (they are actually deer). I bed down and look to my right, all I see in the darkness is a dozen or so sets of red eyes looking back at me. Sorry you lot I’m sleeping here tonight. I profusely scent mark the area to ward off the wildlife, well I was bursting for a wee anyway.

In reality it takes a little while to adjust to the surrounding. Trees make odd sounds and there is constantly the sound of scurrying wildlife. If you’re on your own, (and I usually am, not many seem to want to spend a night outdoors with me!) you can easily spook yourself out, is that a fox walking over there? Or a big hungry wolf stalking me! I am not easily scared so I am quite happy being alone.

After a while I drift off to sleep. I wake up a few times, it’s a lovely night and I’m really warm in a full down suit and down sleeping bag. It’s such a peaceful relaxing way to spend a night and although you don’t get as much sleep as if you were in the regular surroundings of your bedroom, you feel so refreshed and at one with life.

It’s 5.30am and I was dreaming I was surrounded by sheep, I wake up surrounded by deer! It is the ‘moment’. All adventures have a moment that epitomises your partaking and encapsulates the reason you do what you do. As I try and reach for my camera, they flee. They hadn’t got too near, my scent marking had worked well (must of been the asparagus) but they were closer than I’d been to deer in the wild.

It’s a foggy morning, which restricts my view in distance but not in quality. I spend an hour just watching as it gets lighter, even if I go on to have a great day, this hour will be the highlight.

I pack up at 6.30am, it’s still silent and deserted. I ride the steep, slippery hillside back down to the footpath. A few miles later I pass the frog section and it's been carnage in the night, looks like the car drivers weren't as careful to avoid them. By 8am I’m at work, my little trip done.

I’d read that the microadventure concept is all about making the most of your time outside of work, the ‘5 to 9’ rather than worrying about the ‘9 to 5’, but when I ride or hike off into the woods, to spend the night, for me it’s like being a child again, when everything was one great adventure.



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