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GEORGINA AVLONITIS

@gigiavlo
Hiking

What is your favourite thing about being in the outdoors and what does it mean to you?

With nothing, we are all the same. There is no status, materialism, wealth or power in the wilderness and therefore less room for egos. Nothing separates us from our fellow humans on the trail, which is perhaps why the feeling of connection is so abundant. Perhaps in 'the real world' it's why so many people feel alone even when surrounded by so many others- our so-called busyness and our egos and perceptions of our own and other's status get in the way. Take away these things, throw us in nature with the bare essentials and we are who we are. How special is it to connect and celebrate with others over such simple pleasures- a meal, a fire, sunshine after the rain. What the outdoors have also given me is the deep knowing that nothing is permanent- not the pain, not the pleasure. Nothing stays the same and I've learnt that I have to take each moment as it comes- to take NOTHING for granted. To lean into each emotion, each experience and each landscape or mountain climb, both painful and pleasurable because it will inevitably change in the blink of an eye. I suppose it's learning to live in the present. Nature will beat you to your knees, and just when you think you can't take another second, it will provide you with a helping hand (disguised in various shapes and forms) to bring you back to your feet - stronger, humbled and more human than ever. It took a while to learn to lean into the ups and downs and moments of pleasure and pain on very long multi-day hikes but I discovered the real beauty lies in the dichotomy. There is a well-known saying that there cannot be light without darkness and when living in wilderness one finds oneself worshipping these contrasts to an almost religious degree. Feeling alive is about just that....FEELING. It's inextricably linked with experiencing the dichotomies- feeling all emotions in full vivid spectrum. You cannot feel that warm overwhelming blanket of gratuity without having been deprived. You cannot experience and appreciate feeling pain-free without enduring substantial physical pain. You cannot revel in rest without having pushed your body to its limits. You cannot fully appreciate being on track without having being lost, nor take full pleasure in being fed without knowing what it was like to be ravenously hungry

How did you first hear about or experience FOREVER FRESH?

I came across Forever Fresh while trying to search for sustainable hiking meals and dehydrated/freeze-dried food online

If you could go anywhere in the world (without any limitations), where would you travel/explore?

I'd love to explore South America on foot - deep into Patagonian mountains and the Andes

What does the world need more of?

More systems thinking- realising how inextricably we're linked to nature and to each other

What is a saying, quote or mantra you live by?

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

On the Road

What has been your greatest adventure so far?

On my personal and professional journey as an ecologist I wanted to understand my own relationship with nature, to take a deeper look at my hardwiring as a human being- what it meant to me. In 2016 I decided to throw myself into deep wilderness for 6 months and really get a deep understanding of my relationship with nature, with my body and with the resources I consume- with what it means to be homo sapien in this rapidly urbanising world. I decided to walk something called the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT is the longest stretch of contiguous hike in the world. It stretches across the west coast of America from the border of Mexico, all the way across California, Oregon, Washington and then to Canada- spanning 2650 miles- 4300km. It dips into 19 major canyons and ambles past more than 1,000 lakes. The PCT passes through five state park units, six national parks, 25 national forest units and 48 federal wilderness reserves. It is the equivalent elevation change of hiking Mt. Everest 17 times. It reveals the beauty of the desert, unfolds the glaciated expanses of the Sierra Nevada mountains, travels deep Oregon forests, and provides commanding vistas of volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range. The trail symbolizes everything there is to love—and protect—in the wilderness.

It was one of the hardest and most significant things I have ever done for myself and uncovered so many realisations I would never have had, had I not shed my urban skin.

What do you hope to do more of this year?

More time observing the small wonders and miraculous life around me on trails, instead of focussing on 'getting there'.

What is the number 1 item on your bucket list?

Through-hiking the Te Ara Roa in New Zealand

What does sustainability mean to you?

Human actions have typically been shaped by a paradigm in which a “good life” means material consumption and perpetual economic growth. For decades, we have extracted natural resources, destroyed critical habitats, and generated pollution. Our relationship with nature is unbalanced: humans are continuously taking and discarding, and nature is continuously giving. This one-way relationship is unsustainable.

Sustainability means resetting the balance: not just hoarding benefits, but investing as much back into nature as we extract from it. It’s time to develop a new paradigm that recognizes the value of nature and understands that life quality is not purely a matter of GDP. Instead of a linear approach in which things are used and discarded, we need to apply circular thinking in which life is sustained and things are continuously repurposed. We need to think about these things in all the choices we make, from how we select and deliver the food we grow and eat to how we build our cities and provide water and electricity for our growing human population.