I get it! I'm getting older. I've been travelling through the wilderness for quite some time now. I've written books and articles about it, done films, been interviewed on radio and TV… I don't want to admit it, but I'm becoming "the old wise man"!
The cool thing about it is the amount of unique people I know; people that share a desire to get others out into the wilderness so they can heal themselves and the Earth.
That’s not a bad thing. And it’s not a new thing. “Forest bathing,” “nature therapy” … it’s not new—and it’s so real! So many are craving it right now.
I was a very shy kid growing up. I had a speech impediment; I stuttered nonstop up to grade 10. I skipped class … a lot. I ignored crowds whenever possible. I suffered from high anxiety, had suicidal tendencies … went to therapy for it, took medication, even tried yoga …
But I’ve known for years, probably since birth, that time in the wilderness will heal you mentally and physically.
The people I’ve gotten to know in the paddling community know this as well. When we spend time in wild places, something profound happens.
Now more than ever, we need to hear their voices. I’ve spent some time interviewing a bunch of my paddling colleagues and asked them to explain their reasoning behind spending so much time out in the woods and waterways. Of course, I had to do the interviews online due to us all being in isolation due to the virus pandemic. It was a challenge to do the interviews this way, but every one of them jumped to the challenge in their own unique way.
Check out the first of the interview series on my KCHappyCamper YouTube channel:
Justine is an award-winning adventure filmmaker and expedition sea kayaker. Her work has aired on numerous programs, including the National Geographic Channel and the BBC. She runs Cackle TV and created the highly acclaimed “This is the Sea” series of sea kayaking films, and the incredible This is Canoeing film. Justine has won over 20 prestigious prizes including best film at Graz Mountain Film Festival and best adventure film at Banff & Kendal Mountain Film Festivals. She was named as one of the UK’s Top 20 Living Explorers—and she’s even met the Queen!
Justine’s wilderness journeys include:
- The first all-female circumnavigation of Tasmania (900-miles in 42 days)
- A solo trip around Iceland’s West Fjords
- A 400-mile journey up the Pacific coast of Kamchatka with Hadas Feldman and a novice Russian sea kayaker.
- A 500-mile circumnavigation of the Queen Charlotte Islands with Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme
- A kayak crossing of the eastern Bass Strait, island-hopping between mainland Australia and Tasmania
- The first kayak circumnavigation of Wales (by sea, river and canal) with Fiona Whitehead
- A 2,400-kilometre circumnavigation of the South Island of New Zealand taking 67 days with Barry Shaw
- A 500-mile circumnavigation of Sardinia with Barry Shaw
- Three crossings of the Irish Sea of between 45-57 nautical miles: from Anglesey to the Isle of Man, from the Llyn Peninsula to Wicklow in Ireland and from Holyhead to Dublin. All the crossings were done in strong following (or side) winds. The Llyn- Wicklow Crossing was on New Year’s Day, one of the shortest (and coldest) days of the year.
- A crossing from mainland Scotland to Shetland, via the Orkney islands and Fair Isle
- Kayaking 120 miles from London to France in 50 hours and kayaking from Russia to Japan in a series of open water crossings—both with Sarah Outen. See the film on “This is the Sea 5” DVD
- A world first kayak trip 1,000 miles around Isla Grande, Tierra Del Fuego—a remote windswept Patagonian island—with Barry Shaw.
- Circumnavigation of Ireland in 2013 with Barry Shaw & Roger Chandler
- 64 nautical mile paddle around Anglesey in 10 hours 8 minutes (2nd fastest person to date)
- Kayaking 2,500 kilometre along the Aleutian island chain and Alaskan peninsula with Sarah Outen in 2014 over 101 days
- Paddling over 1,000 kilometre along West Papua & Papua in Indonesia with Sandy Robson in 2016. Sandy is kayaking from Germany to Australia re-tracing the route of Oskar Speck.
- Solo circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in 32 days in May 2016
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