1. Please tell us a little more about yourself.
I’m a long distance hiker, outdoor writer and photographer.
My passion is being in wild places. I live in Strathspey in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland.
2. What’s the story behind Christownsendoutdoors.com? Can you share some of the “behind the scene” things?
There really aren’t any ‘behind the scene’ things! It’s a fairly simple website and blog.
The main purpose is so I can post anything I want to write about and share photos. It’s non-commercial so I’m not tied to any particular approach. I just post as and when I feel like it.
3. How did you discover your passion for the outdoors and how did it change your life?
I was brought up in the countryside and spent my childhood playing in fields and woods so my love of the outdoors has been there as long as I can remember.
What changed my life was my first backpacking trip of more than a few nights – the Pennine Way in England which took me two weeks. I knew then this was what I wanted to do.
The next big revelation came when I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and encountered real wilderness for the first time.
4. Tell us more about your camping/outdoor gear and what are the items that you recommend.
Which gear I use depends on where and when I’m going. I wouldn’t use much of the same gear for the Arizona Trail where I’d expect it to be hot and dry and the Scottish Watershed, where I’d expect it to be cool, wet and windy.
I’d use different gear for Yellowstone in January to the High Sierra in August too. Items that are current favourites include the Caldera Ti-Tri alcohol stove unit, Pacerpoles, Tilley Hat, Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar, Six Moon Designs Fusion 65 pack, Inov-8 trail shoes, and Polartec Neoshell waterproofs. Of those only the Pacepoles come on every backpacking trip.
5. This one is for the multi tools fans out there… What is your favorite multi tool and what do you use it for most often?
Again, this depends on the type of trip. Summer backpacking it’s the Leatherman Style CS or SAK Classic and the main use is opening food packets.
My multi-tool usage becomes much more serious in winter and spring trips when I’m on skis. I like the Leatherman Fuse then. It can be used for tightening screws and various repairs.
6. What was the most terrifying experience in your hikes?
There have been a few! Deep river crossings, steep icy slopes, winds that knock of you off your feet have all scared me at times.
My first and so far only close meeting with a grizzly bear (I have seen others at safer distances) was frightening too. Nothing happened but the initial shock at seeing the bear was great.
7. You are a great author, tell us more about your books and where do you get your inspiration?
Thank you! The inspiration for my books is of course the outdoors and my experiences there. Many of my books tell the stories of long walks I’ve done – my next book, Rattlesnakes & Bald Eagles, tells the story of my Pacific Crest Trail hike.
I’ve also written a few how-to books, the key one being The Backpacker’s Handbook, now in its fourth edition, and some guidebooks and a photographic book on the Cairngorms, my home mountains.
8. What do you appreciate most about being in the wild and exploring wild places?
There is so much. Key is being in nature and feeling close to it. Also, beauty, freedom, challenge, adventure, immersion in the present.
9. Please offer 5 tips for the beginning adventurers.
- Follow your heart. Do deserts appeal? Mountains? Rivers? The ocean? Go there.
- Learn the required skills but don’t let this stop you starting out. Skills and experience are not separate.
- Learn about places. Knowledge of geology, plants and animals greatly adds to appreciation of a place. Such knowledge can have practical uses too.
- Plan carefully and then be prepared to change your plans in the light of reality. Flexibility is important. Rigidity is dangerous.
- Remember it’s meant to be fun!
10. Who is your favorite adventurer and explorer?
If I have to choose it’ll be Colin Fletcher, author of The Thousand-Mile Summer and The Man Who Walked Through Time, my two favourite backpacking books.
11. What is your message to your readers and fans?
Thank you to everyone who’s enjoyed my writing and photography and, recently, my films. I hope you go on doing so and I hope you’re able to get out there and have adventures of your own.