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How do you achieve a work life balance?

07/02/20

I am conscious that I have been sharing mountain views from my walks for some time now without much in the way of personal commentary so I thought I would take the plunge and share some of my thoughts.

First of all, some context, climbing mountains in Scotland is not really expedition territory (although there are exceptions such as the Cuillin Ridge on Skye).  While some ascents require navigation skills, a certain level of fitness and the appropriate kit for the conditions, many routes are straight forward hill walks that provide an easily accessible great day out.

While top dogs like Everest will take typically require a 12 week plus trip, you can trek the same distance (130km to base camp), cumulatively ascend higher (Everest is 8848m) and exercise as long (6 – 8 hours average per day) over the same period.  All this without altitude sickness, great expense, frostbite, hypothermia and snow blindness (and that’s before you consider avalanches, crevasses, rockfall, oxygen deprivation and a wind chill of –60 degrees).

I have just entered my second-year hill walking and have averaged two hills per week with half of them being over 3000 feet, therefore, qualifying as Munros.  Not spectacular or recond breaking but perfectly manageable for middle-aged me and while bearing no comparison whatsoever, I often do the maths for how many Everest equivalent ascents I have climbed – it’s over five in the last year so about once every twelve weeks (the same as an average Everest expedition!). 

In freezing rain, fog, howling winds or heavy snow, I do sometimes question my primary pastime but I only need to think about the welfare benefits to endure these moments.  I often exhaust my mind during the week but my body has pent up energy that I feel a need to expend to maintain a healthy balance.  There is a certain symmetry here in that I find walking very therapeutic.  When I start, I find anxious (tired) thoughts turn to constructive reflection with beautiful scenery and changing landscapes replacing a backlog of email and todo lists.

As well as the obvious physical and mental health benefits, I am slowly achieving several personal goals which are, in no particular order, strengthening my knees to manage osteoarthritis pain, improve average navigation skills and break down my mild acrophobia (I do get the irony).  Having lost weight and improved my fitness, I continue to enjoy wonderful solitude and everything the Scottish weather can throw at me!

If you are also a walker, enjoy and stay safe.

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