Hikefulness is not a word, it is an experience for the senses and spirit.
Every hiker knows the feeling. Waking up to the kookaburra at sunrise. Stepping outside your tent and the brisk cold air showers you. As the sun rises through the leaves which glow like gold. The smell of rain and how perfect it feels on your skin.
It’s that feeling when you have reached the campsite, you feel exhausted and all powerful at the same time. Everything you eat on trail tastes amasing. The warm campfire, the crackling hardwood in the bright orange flames.
There is no time to chase, or days to remember, you are simply there, present, in that moment.
I have often been asked which was my favourite part of my Bibbulmun Track end-to-end? – My response is “Where ever I was at that time”
When someone feels anxious, it is often due to something that has not happened yet or might not even really exist. Only focusing on the destination and future causes strain because we have little or no control
over it’s outcome. There really is only the here and now.
It’s extremely difficult for me not to get too excited about what’s happening here with Hikefulness. We are always supposed to be calm and stay in control. But passion is oozing from every part of me.
Hiking has changed my life, in no just little way either. In 2015 my 21 year marriage ended, I was falling apart. I had been working in a mentoring role within disability services / mental health for 7 years and I was burnt out. Even though I loved my job and my employer was amasing.
It is longer a great secret that spending time in nature has the power to change your body, mind and soul. It has been scientifically proven that even spending a few days in remote wilderness away from the daily stress begins to produce a transformation.
A tree releases it’s oils into the air to calm and heal any potential predator including us.
Sitting still, not moving in nature can be very rewarding and healing. I in fact encourage my youth hikes participants to sit apart occasionally in a forest or overlooking a beautiful scene. A moment of mindfulness.
But there is something about the art of walking in nature, movement which creates a flow both physically and mentally. It gives us direction and teaches us to be present at the same time without any effort on our part. It simply happens naturally. Dr David Strayer gave a TED Talk on how it’s been scientifically proven that spending a few days in nature increases your problem solving ability by 50%.
So when you add together multiple days of walking with a backpack, we gain incredible resilience. Everything slows down, so we can take it all in. We have more time to breath and communicate clearly with others. You can’t underestimate how power this is. I watch it happen again and again. A study conducted on children with ADHD showed a marked improvement in concentration after just 20 minutes in a natural environment.
I began to see this transformation in myself during my end-to-end, followed by witnessing it in others on the track. The first transformation I noticed occurred during the first week of my 68 day journey. When I didn’t see another person for 5 days.
An idea popped into my head
I was two thirds of my way through the Bibbulmun Track when an idea popped into my head to take people hiking, more specifically others who were suffering from mental health. The first glimpse of Didier Walks was born. I wanted to come home and create a Not-for-profit organisation, but all in good time.
In 2017, I and my idea was accepted by Business Foundations Fremantle who are a service provider of NEIS “New Enterprise Incentive Scheme” a federal government small business start-up program.
Three years on Didier Walks is a sole trader, I specialise in youth hikes which I enjoy so much. I’m an Activity Provider for the Duke Of Edinburgh International Award. I have consulted/mentored a dozen people to complete their own end-to-end. The Bibb For Beginner Overnight Hikes are designed to take day hikers who want to take that next step into solo multi-day hiking. Your first solo overnight hike is truly life changing, in a most magnificent way.
Hikefulness Australia is born
Now it’s June 2020, my dream of offering more opportunities to more people who want to give hiking a go, to absorb the benefits is coming closer and closer. I’m back on NEIS but this time to create a Not-for-profit hiking organisation. It will give Hikefulness Australia the opportunity to focus on mental health, youth at risk and families. Access to different levels of government and corporate support to create hiking programs for people on low incomes. A youth hiking scholarship to assist Participants of the Duke Of Edinburgh International Award to complete the Adventurous
Journeys when their are barriers in the way. The scholarship will take through from Bronze to Gold level or anywhere in between. I then hope to take this scholarship to schools and youth programs. Clients will have access to hiking gear, so they can focus on themselves. This is just the beginning…
Didier Walks will continue to be a sole trader, the master behind the apprentice. It will continue to offer youth hikes, step more into tourism and corporate hikes. In many ways they will be separate and in other joined hand in hand. Both Hikefulness Australia and Didier Walks wants to also work hand in hand with other interested parties or Friends as I prefer to call them.
Hikefulness Australia will always aim to be financially self-standing. We will need some support and be eternally grateful for any government funding, corporate sponsorship, grants, personal donations that we attract along the way. I am expecting to officially launch Hikefulness Australia sometime in early August this year.
My vision for Hikefulness Australia is clear!
Thanks for playing a small part today, by reading this first page.
Didier – 0410 756 065