'The greatest adventure might be hidden in your own backyard.'
I can't even tell you how much I can relate to these words. I am all for the philosophy that you don't have to travel far, nor do you have to spend huge amounts of money in order to have an experience. Sometimes, adventure can be waiting for you right outside your door. All you have to do is allow yourself to go out and play.
'There's mountain people...there's desert people and there's river rats (...) and I am definitely a mountain person (...).’
‘If life gives you a mountain, put on your boots and hike.'
One day, as I was searching for outdoor events and adventures around Newcastle, I came across a competition ran by Salomon, called OUTline Women's Adventure competition, where the winners would have the opportunity to try the new Salomon OUTline shoes and backpack through a different range of activities that were kept a secret...
The Salomon Group is a globally operating French sports equipment manufacturing company, and they produce products for various sports markets, including trail running, hiking, climbing, adventure racing, skiing, and snowboarding in over 40 countries on five continents.
This competition was ran on their website, and I was so intrigued that I applied, not really knowing much of what we would be doing. But then again, I never thought I would actually be selected!
A few days later, I received an email that changed everything! I could not believe my eyes! I had been one of the selected winners, and I was so happy. The adventure was a bit of a surprise, so I wasn't given many details. All I knew was the it would take place in Keswick, in the Lake District, on the 23rd May, between 6pm-9pm. I asked for the day off at work and impatiently counted down the days left until the big day!
I asked Salomon if I could bring my camera, Go Pro and all the equipment necessary to document the experience, so I could later on write a blog post and post the photos online, and I was encouraged to do so.
I woke up to a beautiful sunny day on Wednesday, 23rd May, and Bruno and I drove to the Lake District at around 1:00pm. We stopped for lunch on the way and we honestly couldn't have been luckier with the weather. It was the perfect day for an outdoor experience: warm and sunny, but with a soft breeze was a perfectly good balance.
Once we arrived, we parked the car and walked towards George Fisher & Abraham's Cafe, the meeting point for all the competition winners.
Soon, all the ladies started to arrive, and I was given a goodie bag with a personallised baby blue Chilly's water bottle with the Salomon logo, and we were also provided with snacks to fill our backpacks with. I was soon also given my backpack and shoes to try on.
I hadn't even started the actual experience, and I was already super impressed particularly with the back support provided by the backpack and the comfort of the shoes. But the question still remained: would these actually be that comfortable after a few hours of walking or hiking?
As soon as everyone was ready, we left George Fisher's and headed out, but not before a quick brief by the entrance.
The experience started with some beautiful views of the lake between the trees. I took this time to get to know the rest of the ladies that were also coming on the experience. So many different backgrounds and stories. I was so grateful to be there.
I had only started to walk, but I could definitely immediately tell that the comfort of both those shoes and backpack was like nothing I'd experienced before. In particular, the back-support of the backpack, which is specifically designed for women, was definitely the highlight of the backpack. It was also waterproof, light in weight, easy to adjust and with straps to tie around the waist and chest. In two words - phenomenal comfort!
The backpacks also allowed for a water bottle (which we were also gifted) to fit in the right side pocket. You could tell the amount of thought and work that was put into these products, and I was really impressed with both the quality and comfort.
When we would stop to appreciate the views and take a minute to photograph the scenery, some of the ladies felt adventurous enough to climb on trees and seize the moment. Carpe Diem is a good way to express what was going on at this moment in time...
We all took a moment to take a deep breath and enjoy the view, before continuing to walk toward our first challenge of the day! I almost couldn't contain my excitement! This was everything I love: being surrounded by nature, in the presence of like-minded people, in what was a celebration of women through adventure and games. But more importantly, I was surrounded by women I didn't know and had never met before, and yet it was like we all knew each other for a long time.
We kept walking through the trails, until we reached our first destination, where we played some games and exercised by the lake. We put down our backpacks, got split into groups of two and played rock-paper-scissors. The person to lose would then have to do 2 jumping jacks, and try again. Then, we did some press-ups, we ran toward the lake, picking up rocks and bringing them back, while the other group did some press-ups, and then we switched sides.
It felt so good to get the heart-rate up, and I enjoyed every game that we played.
We then sat down to have lunch and eat our snacks. I was obsessed with the water bottle. It kept the water so cool and fresh, and it didn't leak at all in the bag. Having my camera with me on the day, including my Go Pro, that was one of my main concerns, but I have to say the quality of every single product I tried out was beyond excellent.
I had a lentil salad, and for desert, a sweet potato chocolate brownie that was to die for! After lunch, we continued to walk towards the next destination. We stopped for group photos throughout the experience.
Although some of the terrain we walked on was very uneven, the shoes made it super comfortable to walk on tough and uneven terrain. As someone who's used to hiking on the weekends, i have to say these were way more comfortable than the hiking boots that I own. Plus, they were so much lighter.
The sun was slowly going down, and we reached our final destination: a super secluded spot by the water, where we dumped our bags and gathered around for a long, relaxing yoga session.
We were told to pay attention to our breathing, trying to slow it down, before we performed a series of yoga exercises. I can't help but say that once the session was over, I felt as though I'd been in a Spa for a full day. So relaxed...so revived....
I closed my eyes for a moment and took a few deep breaths. I was looking out into the mountains. Both the sky and water were so blue. The gentle breeze increased slightly as the sun began to descend, and I was feeling so good. The Yoga instructor was amazing! I also realised during that moment, that Yoga isn't as easy as it may seem. Although I am pretty flexible, I struggled with my balance during a few of the exercises, but then I realised how much the shoes were helping me to regain that balance.
At the very end of the session, we all took some photographs by the water, where we jumped with our hands in the air. I really love this photo, because I think it captures the experience perfectly. What an incredible way to meet new people, to hear their stories, to exercise and become friends with people you'd never met.
I would give the backpack a solid 5 out of 5. It is comfortable, light-weight, the back-support is out of this world, the colours were beautiful, it was durable and practical, in the sense that you could fit all your gadgets in hidden little pockets, strategically placed for easy access. I had my powerbank charger in one of the side pockets near the waist clips, and the water bottle pocket is also a super clever way to prevent accidents inside the bag.
As for the shoes, I was also impressed with how comfortable and light these were. I am glad the weather was glorious, but a part of me kind of wishes I had the chance to test them in the mud and rain.
I will never forget this experience, and I can only thank Salomon and George Fisher UK for making this possible.
I will leave you with a phrase:
The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
Thank you, Salomon.
Thank you, George Fisher UK.
'Great adventures are hidden in your backyard. Make time to play.'