Mel from Galzgonewild speaks with us about her reason for adventure
Throughout 2018 as part of #iGOoutdoors we’re celebrating the different reasons for adventure. Not every adventure is reaching a summit, for many, it’s as simple as reaching their first 5k, or getting out on a weekend with their friends to enjoy the fresh air. For our latest feature, we sat down with Mel from Galz Gone Wild, an outdoor activity group in Ireland aimed at encouraging women to join a group of like-minded people for adventures in the outdoors.
Research has shown that joining an activity group can improve both physical and mental health. The physical benefits of exercise are obvious, but joining a group filled with like-minded people can lead to new friendships, and having somebody to enjoy the outdoors with is a step toward motivating yourself to do it more often.
Mel runs a group called ‘Galzgonewild’ in Ireland which welcomes women of all abilities to join them on their adventures which include hikes twinned up with activities like sauna, yoga and photo trails.
Here was our chat:
Q. For those who haven’t heard of GalzGoneWild – What is it?
A. “Galzgonewild is a community and business aimed to encourage and empower all women regardless of their athletic ability to utilise our surrounding landscape, to get back into nature, to nurture, build increased confidence, creativity, fitness, mindfulness and adventure. Most importantly, to have fun and forge new friendships out in the wild!
I have been running GGW since July 2017. It started with a monthly adventure but with there being such a positive response early on, the demand meant I very quickly had to increase it to run fortnightly.”
Q. What inspired you to start the community?
A. “After going on some other group hikes myself, I found the age demographic to be older, the atmosphere competitive and to be lead or attended by a majority of men. I also found the hikes too focused on the history of our landscape and getting from point A to B as quickly as possible. There just never seemed to be enough time to stop and be mindful of these magnificent surroundings you had come to be in. Something I always encourage the girls to do when we are out adventuring.
Another difficulty I found was getting to the trails. It was always required that you had to drive as public transport is limited. I wanted to create a community of like-minded women, in a non-competitive environment who encourage and support one another. Providing them with return transport means the trails are easily accessible. Giving them information of what to pack/wear and what to expect on the day gives them the knowledge and reassurance to be happy spending a day in the open mountains. It’s about awakening confidence and empowering women to get outdoors.”
Q. What sort of events do you organise?
A. “The adventures are varied but are usually based on a day of hiking in the open mountains and are aimed at complete beginners to advanced experience. They can include yoga (indoors during the winter and outdoors during the summer), hikes to a mobile sauna which is set up by a river, where you plunge yourself into the cold water before running back to the warmth of the sauna, photography hikes, and we’ll soon be adding dog friendly hikes and camping adventures. We’re getting ready to host our very first overnight GGW getaway at Avondale House in Wicklow which will include lunch, dinner, yoga, hiking, mountain skills workshops, creative writing and WINE!”
Q. Starting a community to encourage others involves a great passion for the outdoors yourself, is it something you’ve been involved with all through your life?
A. “Growing up in the countryside gave me a lot of independence in the outdoors. It meant playing in my neighbour’s fields, climbing trees, exploring the local woods, camping in the back garden, building huts, biking to local villages and generally finding adventure wherever I could, something at the time I definitely took for granted.
My love for the outdoors always remained in my heart but it lay dormant as I pursued a career in fashion. I returned home to Ireland after living in London for a few years, I was burnt out and diagnosed with depression. It took some time but I got better and my sense of adventure returned. I found a love for photography and this spurred me on to get outdoors. I was spending more and more time in nature, hiking trails and camping.
I soon realised this is where I found peace and healing. This is where I was happiest. I went on to complete my Mountain Skills 1 and 2 training last year and am currently working towards my Mountain Leader award which I hope to have by the end of the year. I hope to inspire other women to follow their dream of a life spent in the great outdoors.”
Q. Who encouraged your own sense of adventure?
A. “Me! When you live in the middle of nowhere as a kid with the nearest village 3km away and at a time when there was no mobile phones or internet you had to get creative.”
Q. What do you hope those who take part, get out of their time with GalzGoneWild?
A. “New friendships and connections. An appreciation and respect for nature, clarity and healing, the confidence to conquer.”
Q. What has been the most memorable GGW adventure so far?
A. “The very first GGW adventure. 24 women stomping through the open mountains on a hot sunny July morning. Practising yoga outdoors, eating a picnic lunch in the woods and creating poetry by a stream. I was overwhelmed by the energy, positivity and kindness of these women…pure magic.”
Q. As somebody who organises these events, where is your own personal place to be outdoors?
A. “Anywhere in the Wicklow Mountains. I feel so lucky to have such a beautiful landscape on my doorstep. The Wicklow way trail, however, holds a special place in my heart as it was my very first long distance solo hike.”
GalzGoneWild are an adventure community based in Dublin, Ireland that host many of their adventures in the Wicklow Mountains. We’d like to thank Mel for taking the time to talk to us, and we hope that it inspires you to seek out an outdoor group that suits your own needs. If you can’t find one? Why not start one, like Mel did.