Chris Ball (@529adventures) believes the hours between 5pm and 9am are a perfect opportunity for an all out microadventure fest. He embodies everything that WAE stands for, and he’s submitted his recent trip as Challenge #45!

You work hard 9 to 5, but what do you do 5 to 9?

Going on an adventure for days, weeks or even months is special. But why live a life without adventure in between the big adventures? Have you ever considered what mini-adventures existed near your home or office? If you were a tourist where you live, what would you do?

A 5 to 9 adventure is any mini-adventure outside business hours during the working week.

My latest went a little something like this:

Kitted out with a fully loaded camping pack and best adventure proof hiking gear, there was a wave of colleague curiosity as I strode out the office at 5pm on a Thursday evening.

This was not your routine Thursday. For this weeknight, rather than ride the couch, I would ride the train one-hour north, into the bush!

After an hour on the train from downtown Sydney and a short 5-minute walk from Mt Kuring-gai train station, I was where I needed to be. Nestled between Hornsby Heights and Berowra Heights, civilisation was not far. But it could have been a million miles away, as I set off on the trail in that golden hour of sunlight. Nothing but fresh air, the sights and sounds of nature and the feeling of adventure induced excitement!

I had to move fast to get to my campsite before dark.

4 or 5 kms from the train station, I reached my home for the night.

on the walk out in the morning, as I get closer to the ocean

Setting up next to Berowra Creek, I was mindful of not breaking one of the golden rules of camping: ‘don’t camp too close to water.’ In the last moments of twilight, I found what looked like the perfect spot. A clearing set back some 50ms from the water, where I set up camp, got a fire going and settled in for the evening. There’s nothing like being out in the wilderness, cooking your meal under the stars with the warmth of crackling fire. Whether you’re sharing or, as I was this time – solo, it’s special. Being alone provides time to reflect and simply be with ‘you.’ Your senses are heightened; you’re in the zone. Solo adventures are awesome in their own right.

With a full stomach and a few sneaky swigs of rum, I crawled into the tent and fell asleep in the middle of the bush on a Thursday night.

However, my sleep would be short-lived. I’m not sure who to credit with the quote, but it’s a line that’s always resonated: “It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.”

Unfortunately on this occasion, it would be in the wee hours of Friday morning.

I first suspected something was up when my feet felt damp at 1am. I figured that with recent rain, water was rising up from the ground and making my tent a little moist. But 30 minutes or so later I woke again. This time, the bottom quarter of my test felt like a waterbed. I sat bolt upright and murmured aloud: “what the f*%k is going on?” With urgency, I flicked my headlamp on and unzipped the tent door. Still half asleep, I wasn’t prepared for what my eyes were seeing. My cooking equipment and everything that wasn’t securely tucked inside the tent was floating. Slightly downhill from the tent, the campfire was a foot under water! It was a weird, confusing and rather inconvenient situation at 1:30am! I jumped out of the tent and moved everything to high ground.

With headlamp on, I investigated the source of the water. There’d been a ‘rookie error.’ Setting up in low light, I’d failed to notice an inlet for the creek just metres from camp and Berowra creek is, as I am now acutely aware, a tidal creek connected to the ocean. As the tide went up the inlet filled with water, which spilled into the campsite and a quarter of the way up my tent!

oats for breakfast... forgot my spoon!

I woke in a mostly dry tent just before a perfect sunrise. Freshly cooked oats, a cup of tea and sunrise over a wide, fast flowing creek made for a stunning start to the day. Surrounded by thick bush, the environment felt more like tropical S-E Asia than the Australian outback.

But, there wasn’t much time for sitting. This was a 5-9 adventure and for it to be a 5-9 adventure I’d need to be back in my office by 9am, sharp.

After a brisk 5km walk along inlets and creeks, I arrived at Berowra Station – lungs filled with fresh air.

An hour south on the train, and it was impossible not to have a cheeky smile as I got off at a packed Town Hall Station and made it to my office by 9am.

In this moment a sense of freedom and satisfaction wash over you. You know that feeling you get when you’ve done something special, something from the heart?

Soul food.

Happy adventures, no matter where, when or how short they may be!

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