A love of adventure I grew up in the suburbs of London and I had an amazing childhood there. But when I became a young adult, I never found purpose and meaning in suburban life. I felt called to the …
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Andrew Terrill’s book “The Earth Beneath My Feet” covers the first half of his journey across Europe. It is available now through Amazon and local bookseller websites.
A second book, titled “Sacred Ground” and covering the second half of the journey, will be released in June.
I grew up in the suburbs of London and I had an amazing childhood there. But when I became a young adult, I never found purpose and meaning in suburban life. I felt called to the mountains and hills of Britain and going on long walks into the mountains was a passion of mine. So I escaped into trips and the trips grew longer and longer and eventually I wanted to go on a trip that wasn’t just a walk it was a way of life.
When I was 23, I was on a weeklong hike in the Alps and managed to fall down a mountain. I should probably not have been able to walk away from it or even breathe after it. Doing that completely changed my perspective on life. I realized that life is a fragile thing that you shouldn’t waste and that you should really do what you want to do.
Then I was thinking about European mountain ranges that I could possibly hike and I thought about the Appenines, which stretch the length of Italy. But I was also thinking about Norway, which has a mountain range that extends the length of the country. And then I was sitting there and I thought `why don’t I walk them both and join them together?’
At first, I decided to try and find sponsors for the journey which, of course, ended up being a complete and total failure. So eventually I just decided to take that leap of faith and start even though I only had money saved for the six months and trust the mountain gods would eventually reward me for starting. And so part of the adventure was not having the budget to stay in hotels and always staying in the woods.
The real voyage was finding that belonging and sense of peace in places that were often intimidating and wild and uncomfortable. The 7,000 miles took me from being intimidated by nature and scared of it to an incredible sense of belonging and connection which ultimately was beyond anything I ever imagined was possible and that I haven’t lost in the 25 years since. I now don’t see a differentiation between nature and civilization, it’s just the world. You can see nature and wilderness in a small patch of sidewalk if you look close enough. That’s an incredible thing to have.
I always imagined myself writing a book about the journey because I always wanted to share the experience of being in the mountains, which I think is a uniquely human thing. But when I finished the journey I tried writing it but I don’t think I had the skills to do it justice as a writer.
But I think eventually 15 years after, I decided I really wanted to do it. And in writing it I found I did the journey a second time with a depth that added incredible meaning to the original journey and the book is the culmination of that. It’s the youthful exuberance I had at the time, which I tried to keep in the point of view in the book. But it’s also the insights and perspective that I have brought to bear on it which I think seems to be making it work a little more.
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