This is the story of two people who love each other, and adventure. Who love food, and always seem to carry too much of it around in their backpacks. Who are desperately seeking new horizons. Who know what freedom feels like, but can’t always quite find it.
My name is Kirsti Whalen. I am 28 years old and live in Wellington, New Zealand. I am married to (arguably) the world’s best human, Marcus. We have a dog called Millie who is a year-old mutt, who is rampant and adoring and drooling and naughty and learning and our absolute darling. And she, like us, loves a romp in the hills, on the beach or through the forest.
I am a writer but often find myself stuck in the 9 to 5 humdrum of daily life. I come home from work, make dinner, walk Millie and although my laptop stares at me, begging to have its keys pounded, I end up falling into bed. Partly it’s a result of four years of writing school — after my Masters degree was complete I felt like I had already written everything I wanted to say. I wanted to live more, rather than just talk about living. I was burned out and over it, to the extent that I have a book I really should try to publish sitting in a file in the cloud, waiting to be edited.
I realised, however, that what I really want to say comes down to three things: Food. Adventures. Love. I am endlessly astounded by the beauty I’m surrounded by. I am lucky enough to be able to experience the outdoors right on my doorstep. I am passionate about all things food, especially when that food is fuel. Delicious, healthy, extraordinary fuel. And I am so grateful to be in love with a person who inspires me to do better, to climb higher, to shock myself with what I am capable of.
Full disclosure: I am miles and miles, light years perhaps, away from being any kind of professional athlete or cook. I am a hiker who, only two years ago, cried on each and every day of a three day hike. It was hard. I had never climbed a mountain with a pack on my back before, and it felt as if it nearly killed me.
Thankfully, I don’t cry on hikes anymore. Now days, I seek out the buzz that I feel as my legs ache and I ascend. But I’m still learning. I’m getting better. I’ve worked through anxiety and a whole lot of loss and now I’m beginning to understand what it truly means to keep going, one foot in front of the other. I want to share the journey.
The actual journey we’re undertaking started in New Zealand, from Wellington to Queenstown, Rangiwahia and then Coromandel. Tonight we’re off to Los Angeles. We’ll pick up a campervan and drive to Wyoming and back, then head down through Central and South America and all the way to the Southernmost tip of Chile. From there we head to Argentina and across the world to Scotland, for Christmas and then home again, for adventures of a more domestic kind.
Thank you for wanting to come with us. If you’re here because you’re our friends and family, then thank you for being part of our lives, even when we’re at a distance. If you’re a stranger on the internet, it’s great to meet you! Thanks for wanting to be a part of one of the best things we’ll ever do.
And if you’re here because you have a mountain, any kind of mountain, you don’t yet know how to climb, then please remember: there will be a time when the pain you held in your body and your heart becomes something you can’t recall. Some people find relief only for moments. Those moments still matter. They matter more than most people will ever know.
Some people are fortunate enough to be able to change their lives for good. Remember that you are someone important and special and wonderful now, just as you will be when everything has changed. I am still the crying, overweight, unfit, frizzy-haired, broken-hearted girl hauling up a hill. She was valid and had an important place in the world. Every iteration of yourself is just as necessary as the next, so be kind to yourself as you embark on the challenge you want to accept, and the person you want to be.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Onward, now, to the next adventure.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton