Have you ever been thinking of leaving your whole life behind? About a complete, total change? Have you ever wanted to run away from hustle and bustle of crowded cities, continuous traffic jams and boring office work? Maybe the right cure to all evil could be living closer to the nature? In the vicinity of people who treasure interpersonal bonds more than a new car or a new house?
I have always admired people who were brave enough to make not very easy decisions to move to rural areas, where they frequently had to say goodbye to all kinds of facilities and had to simply roll up their sleeves in an old-fashioned way to have something to place on their tables. Of course, this kind of changes not always have to be so extreme, sometimes it’s enough to keep the appropriate balance between our surroundings and inventions of mankind.
Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to a very charismatic couple of – Chris and Charlie’s Adventures – who decided to abandon the things which no longer made them happy and devote to what they love most, which means hiking trips and bouldering.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourselves?
Charlie: I’m Charlie of Chris and Charlie’s Adventures. I’m 29 years old and work as an Occupational Therapist, blogging as a hobby. Having spent my childhood exploring the UK’s National Parks on family camping trips, I grew up loving the outdoors, especially the mountains. I always dreamt of living in the countryside when I grew up, but once I moved away from home to go to University, I ended up moving from city to city until I wound up in London. This is where I met Chris.
Passion Piece: Why did you decide to leave the city life?
Charlie: I was fed up of London life and Chris was feeling burnt out from barista jobs in the business areas. We started reading about long hiking trips in America and Chris decided he wanted to try thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I wasn’t that fussed by it, but we made a deal that if we quit everything in London and gave up our flat to go and hike in America, then we could leave the city for good and start a new life in the countryside once we were done.
Passion Piece: Was it a hard decision to take? What kind of difficulties did you face at the beginning?
Charlie: Leaving London was the easiest decision, but agreeing on where to move to was harder. Chris grew up in Scotland and really wanted to move up to the remote highlands. I was more practical and wanted to be closer to family. In the end, we settled on Wales as it seemed fairly central in comparison to our other options!
Passion Piece: What are the good sides of living in rural areas? What do you enjoy the most?
Charlie: Rural life is so peaceful and the views are amazing! People are much friendlier in the countryside and help each other out. As avid hikers and climbers, we also love being surrounded by beautiful trails and boulders we can explore.
Passion Piece: Mountains are beautiful, but can also be unpredictable. How did your adventure with hiking start?
Charlie: I’ve been fairly lucky to have climbed a lot of mountains as a child, so mountains were always exciting to me. I love planning routes on a map and trying to navigate unknown territory, a passion which I must have shared to Chris on one of our first dates. I think our third or fourth date was a long day hike just outside London, and we had such a great time that we started doing as many day trips and weekends away as possible. We spent 5 days hiking through Snowdonia a couple of years ago, then completed the West Highland Way in Scotland a few months later. Once we realized we were strong enough to carry all our gear, we agreed that the Appalachian Trail could be realistic after all. I love the scenery, but Chris mostly gets excited by the camping and bushcraft element. Every time we pass an outdoor shop, he’ll drag me in to look at the gear. Recently we have started climbing outdoors, so we bought some bouldering pads and carry these with us on some of our hikes. They’re very bulky!
Passion Piece: How much training does one need to become an efficient climber? What should one remember about before setting out for a hiking tour?
Charlie: I’d say we are intermediate climbers now, but it has taken a while to get to this point. We started bouldering indoors once a week, then as we felt more confident we attended a top rope course so we could start climbing indoors on ropes. Every Friday we’ll head to the climbing gym and will spend about 2 hours climbing and bouldering. As our technique and stamina developed we realized we needed to start training at home in order to improve our strength further. Finger strength is the hardest element to work on, so we bought a Beastmaker 1000, which is a hang board with different holds on it. Once a week, we’ll spend about 20 minutes doing a hang routine. We’ll also do some chin-ups and abdominal exercises while hanging. Flexibility is also important for climbing, so we spend an evening a week doing a long yoga stretch routine. I started to feel anxious on more challenging climbing grades, so started doing Qi Gong to learn how to link my breath to my movements; this has really helped, alongside some mindfulness, if I’m feeling nervous on the wall!
Passion Piece: What are some of your craziest experiences while traveling?
Charlie: During our hike through Snowdonia we decided it would be a good idea to hike up Tryfan with all our gear on our backs. Tryfan is notorious as being a very difficult mountain to climb with a scramble to reach the top. On our way up the mountain the weather changed and torrential rain started to fall. The winds picked up so much that we were being blown backwards. We ended up crawling a section on our hands and knees, so that we could reach the ridge line and descend down the other side. The path seemed to disappear and our visibility was terrible, so we rushed down towards the valley. Suddenly I heard a splash behind me and turned round to spot Chris waist deep in a bog. He was drenched and so was his backpack. Luckily we made it to a campsite at the bottom without any more incidents. We didn’t reach the summit, but at least we were safe.
Passion Piece: Have you ever faced any dangerous situations while being close to the nature? How did you deal with them?
Charlie: During our Appalachian Trail hike we had a very close moment with death. We were hiking across an exposed mountain ridge called Big Firescald Knob and we were surrounded by fog. The ground was really slippery, so we were taking our time and being slow. I was climbing down a steep rocky section and my foot slid off the side of the ridge. My poles both slid and I could feel the weight of my backpack pulling me towards the edge. Chris threw himself onto me to pin me to the rock and we ended up getting pretty bruised, but at least we didn’t plummet off the side!
Passion Piece: What tips would you give to people who would like to travel more and to spend more time out of their towns?
Charlie: Even if you can’t afford a huge trip abroad, get yourself a tent and some cooking equipment, and drive into your countries national parks. There are so many beautiful places to explore, but you can get an amazing experience just by hiking off into the wilderness with a tent and some food. It’s the cheapest way to travel and the most exciting. Nothing beats being able to cook dinner over a camp stove and watch the stars with no-one else around; it’s so peaceful.
Passion Piece: What are your favorite travel destinations? How do you choose them?
Charlie: I love jungles, mountains, and epic views, so my favorite destinations have been Peru and Canada. We tend to choose destinations based on their scenery, food or culture. We’d love to visit Japan for all three of these reasons.
Passion Piece: What are your plans for the nearest future?
Charlie: In June we’re going on a three week road trip around the Alps and Pyrenees mountains, visiting France, Switzerland and Italy. We’re excited to get in lots of hiking trails as well as climbing, sightseeing and lots of eating! Leading up to this we’ll be bouldering outdoors as much as possible and trying to do some multi-day hiking trips around the UK.
Passion Piece: Do you have any other hobbies besides hiking?
Charlie: We’ve already mentioned climbing, but we also like building and creating things. Since moving into our first unfurnished home we started building our own furniture and upcycling things we found in charity shops. It’s been really fun rummaging through shops and creating cool items out of someone else’s junk. I’m pretty good at baking too, but I try not to bake too often as I’ll just end up eating it all!
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Charlie: As quoted by George Bernard Shaw – ‘Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself’
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation and I wish you good luck during your next trip!
I hope that this interview made you think a little bit. We don’t always have a possibility to leave our everyday lives for good, but with the right time organization and the proper way of planning you will be able to have a good time close to the breathtaking nature more often than just in a while!
See you around!
Photos by: Chris and Charlie’s Adventures