Why You Should Trust Your Spirit in the Outdoors

Wild Turkey and We Are Explorers have come together to help Australian's fuel their spirit to make memorable moments in the wild.

Between the crew at Wild Turkey and We Are Explorers, we’ve got enough adventure memories to fill a draw full of photo albums.

But we didn’t start out with the outdoor skills and knowledge you need to experience epic places. We all had to earn it by trusting our spirits. With every push of the boundary, we’ve been able to gain more knowledge, more skills and to build on the trust within ourselves and our abilities.

To celebrate our collaboration we spoke to our own people first about times they’ve had to trust their spirit to guide them towards an unforgettable experience, and a safe passage home.

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tim ashelford

head of editorial

‘It’s not that hard, you’re fit, you’ll get it.’

Those were all the words it took to get me on a plane to NZ for a ski trip, despite never having clipped into a pair in my life.

Not a normal ski trip, mind you. There were no instructors, lifts or apres where we were going. We were heading into the backcountry, fully-laden, to post up in Kirtle Burn hut for a few days.

Tom had been doing a guiding course for most of the winter, while Rick had a basic level of skiing expertise and Gee was one trip down. The word ‘motley’ comes to mind.

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Nothing in my life has quite exemplified the term ‘full send’ like teetering at the top of a steep embankment with thin skis strapped to my feet and nearly 20kg on my back. As expected, I performed a dictionary-definition yard sale, and spent the next 15 minutes collecting my kit from deep snow and attaching it to my person.

But it got easier. It always does, right? With the exception of bloody surfing, every sport has this joyous part of the learning curve where things quickly become familiar, easier.

By sunset on day two, I was turning with confidence. Which was good, ‘cause on day three we navigated a blizzard to get the hell out of there.

Back in the van, Gee spun bald tyres all the way to a Wanaka burger joint where we hoed into a meal and sipped on bourbon to celebrate. We were exhausted, elated and a damn-sight better at skiing than when we first broke trail two days before.

Sure, we were never that far from safety (and Tom knew exactly what he was doing) but to get out there we had to back ourselves. We trusted our spirits, rolled with the punches, and the trip turned out to be truly unforgettable.

A little self-belief goes a long way in the outdoors, and every step after you set out is easier than the first.

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Sian Brain

Digital Campaign Coordinator

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Not too long ago, Bee and I packed our bags and headed to the Gibraltar Range for a three day, 60km hike. Neither of us had done an overnight hike in a long time, let alone a three dayer.

While we’re both adventurous gals, the reality is this; week to week we sit at our desks all day and aren’t dedicated when it comes to exercise regimes. But off we went, to conquer this hike without preparing for it, because that’s what our damn hearts wanted.

Day one was beautiful, the bod was feeling strong, and spirits were high.

Day two started off okay… but slowly the hobbles started to take hold and by lunchtime my ankles had well and truly morphed into big fat cankles.

Bee luckily didn’t have cankles, she was lumped with toe blisters instead. What’d be your weapon of choice? Toe blisters or cankles? Both pretty brutal I say.

It’s about now you start to doubt yourself, when you’re 30km deep and your body is giving up.

You think;

‘Hmm, maybe we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. Should we turn back? Can’t turn back, it’s just as far as going forward.’

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After having a huge lunch, numbing the feet in an ice-cold river and throwing numerous bandaids on the old stompers, we did what we always do. We kept going.

In these moments you have to trust your spirit because given the opportunity, the body might just give up!

On we hobbled, and of course, made it the whole 60km.

Those three days are my favourite of the year, probably since 2020 actually. When I think back to it, all I remember are the feelings of being awestruck by the natural scenery, of being alone in the wilderness with my best mate, away from cell reception, and chores, and work, and parties to go to, and people to see.

Just me, letting my spirit lead the way. And my cankles.

Disclaimer: My ankles have returned to their normal state. Thanks for the concern.

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Amy Fairall

News and Features Editor

Over the June long weekend last year, nine mates and I planned a three-day kayak trip across Jervis Bay that saw the strengths of our spirits truly tested. We set off from an inlet near Callala Bay in a fleet of double and single kayaks to find a spot to set up camp for a few nights.

The first day was GLORIOUS. We glided across the top of the still and glassy bay, the crisp winter sun warming us up from the inside out. Although we only paddled a handful of kilometres, we took our time, kept a keen eye out for stingrays and dolphins, and shouted across the water ’How good’s this?!’ a few dozen times each.

We found a quiet grassy patch just off a deserted beach to make our home for a few days, filling our time with bushwalks, a spot of surfing, reading, delicious food, and of course, a few drinks around the blazing fire.

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When it came time to paddle back a few days later, the wind had picked right up, so had the swell, and it was all blowing right towards us.

We jumped into our kayaks and immediately had to fight to not drift off in the wrong direction.

I was seated at the front of a double kayak and waves were constantly breaking in my lap, the bitterly cold winter water intensified by the wailing wind blowing in my face.

The group quickly became separated and the wind made it impossible to be heard. I was incredibly thankful to have my good mate Oly as a kayak buddy. If I was alone, I probably would’ve given up, or at least cried.

After more than an hour of constant paddling and shivering, I was becoming incredibly frustrated about how much further we still had to go and at the unrelenting nature of the journey.

Every time the kayak drifted down into a trough we had to paddle hard to bring it back up and over the peak of the incoming wave. There wasn’t a single second to rest if we didn’t want to capsize or lose ground.

But Oly trusted in his spirit, and more importantly in mine, and that’s what got us back to that inlet. He knew I was reaching the limits of what I could endure, but a few words of encouragement helped me dig deeper, paddle harder.

After over two hours of incessant fighting against the elements, our kayak was the first to land back where we’d taken off two days earlier. The rest of the crew arrived in dribs and drabs, each regaling us with their version of the paddle and filling us in on the whereabouts of some of the others. A few people had bailed out and were waiting on a car to pick them up from a nearby beach.

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I knew that if Oly hadn’t believed in me, I probably would’ve been sitting on a beach waiting for a car to finish the journey too. And that’s no way to end an adventure.

Sometimes it takes someone else to believe and trust in your spirit before you can do it for yourself.

Bee Stephens

Digital Campaign Producer

Showing up to an adventure with an open mind and trusting in your team will always be a recipe for success in the outdoors.

Hiking with my Dad is an interesting experience, even a trip to the shops with Dad’s pretty unique. On this particular occasion, the whole family was back together after a few years apart. All four of us, Mum, Dad, my older brother, and me. The hike we’re about to embark on is the Jatbula Trail - 5 days in Nitmiluk National Park on Jawoyn Country.

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Whilst I could waffle on about the jaw-dropping, mind-bending time we had, this story is about hiking’s culinary realm and about trusting your taste buds' desires, your chef’s kiss ideas despite the climate and the nay-sayers around you.

‘What is that Dad...? What on earth are you pulling out of the freezer?’

‘Just a bag of frozen snags. They’re tonight’s tea.’

Dad proceeds to stuff the frozen snags in his billy, and into the depths of his pack. All of this, before we’re about to walk out into the desert in the scorching midday heat.

My brain is thinking, what the heck? Firstly they’re heavy as hell, secondly, they’re going to defrost through his bag, and thirdly, will they even be safe to eat by tonight's dinner?

We make it to the trailhead at exactly 12pm and trudge on, the heat bears down. It's quite a shock for a bunch of Melbournians who haven’t been in 30 degrees for months. I think about rationing my muesli bars as we begin the first day’s walk, closely watching the back of Dad’s bag to see if any dripping has started, signalling no dinner for these steamy travellers.

The day draws to a close, and we’re the last people to make it to camp. We pitch our tents and after a dip in the waterhole, it's dinner time. Dad draws out the manky-looking package from his billy.

‘Nobody else does this Dad, everyone else has lightweight dehydrated food that’s easy to cook, clean, and carry.’

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Dad carries on with dinner, the smells start to waft and you can see Dad’s knowing smirk under the headlamp light. Pretty soon a few neighbouring campers come sniffling.

‘What’s that? Smells good.’

‘What have you got there?’

‘Geez that looks fancy…’

Dinner is then served. It tastes absolutely phenomenal, literally one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. Barely a word is spoken as our camp tucks in. I look at Dad and he laughs, he’s done it and we’re the most well-fed crew at the site.

Sometimes despite everything around you, you’ve just got to trust your tummy, it often knows best.

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