Marilyn Scott started bush-walking at the age of 45 and has been canyoning, abseiling and caving for the past 25 years. As she says, "there comes a time when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it!"
In between family time and organising guided weekend trips away, we managed to catch up with Marilyn for a quick 'Sunday 7'...
What is your most treasured outdoor space and why?
I don’t really have a particular outdoor space in mind, but if I had to pick, I guess I’d choose a canyon with moss covered walls and a crystal clear pool in the centre. It would be the middle of the day, with the sun peeking out over the edge of the cliff walls and the sunbeams hitting the water. You don’t get this often but when you do, it’s magical.
What is your definition of adventure? Do you think it has changed over time?
There’s what are called Type 1 and 2 adventures. Type 1 adventures are where you just have fun, you’re well within your comfort zone, and not freaked out. The other Type is when you keep asking yourself, “What the hell am I doing here?”
Whilst I like Type 1 adventures, I REALLY like surviving a Type 2 adventure. However, lately it’s a relief to just have “fun” without scaring myself half to death.
How do you see the perception of women in outdoor adventure and sport?
I can’t speak on the current perception of women in the outdoor adventure/sport arena, but in my early bush-walking days, I believe that we were looked upon as the weak link in the group, participants that should be “taken care of”. Mind you, I was walking with a lot of older men in those days and that would have been their attitude whether we were outdoors or not. Now, being an older woman in the group, I love it when younger men (and women) want to make sure that I don’t get into a situation that will be potentially dangerous for me. I do have a number of friends that are offended when men offer to help them, but I think they are over reacting – just go with the flow. You know how capable you are, and you really don’t need to prove it to others. On another note, people always feel good about themselves when they help someone (whether they need it or not – haha).
How would you describe your typical Sunday?
If I'm taking people out canyoning for the weekend, I like my Sunday to end in a leisurely walk back to where my car is parked and taking the time to let my kids know that I’m out of the wilderness unscathed. However, this is rarely the case and I have to rush a bit more than I like! Usually I’m being pressured to get others back to their vehicles so that they have more time for the long drive home. When I arrive home, I unpack everything from my car, put stuff away and get semi-organised for next weekend’s adventure.
The outdoors can be unpredictable - how do you handle adversity?
My trips often don’t go to plan, so it really doesn’t bother me and I’m pretty dynamic – there’s always a solution. I might not like the solution at the time, but it is what it is. I also do a lot of “what if” thinking when I’m on a trip, so it’s not often that I’m surprised when things don’t go according to plan. I often have a Plan B in the back of my mind so that I’m not standing around thinking, “what now?” With the sort of trips I do (soft adventures), the only real adversity is bad weather, bad navigation (on my part) or not being able to find a decent camp site!
If you had control of the news for a day, what’s the one story you think everyone should know about?
The carelessness of a lot of people in the bush today. In the “old days”, we were taught to “leave no trace behind” by the bush-walking/canyoning elders, mainly in a club environment. These days, with the internet and the ready availability of track notes, people just download information and head off into the bush with little or no idea of leaving no trace. I can’t tell you the number of “fairy rings” (rock rings to build around a camp fire) I’ve had to destroy in an attempt to obliterate the fire scars that people leave behind. The worst thing is the garbage – I often find toilet paper laying around, aluminium foil in fire scars, tins and bottles laying around in sites accessible by vehicles…
What is it about the outdoors that keeps you coming back for more?
Challenging myself and seeing how long I can do the sort of trips that I do. Whilst I don’t think I’ll be able to do these activities to the same level, I think I’ll still be getting out there for at least the next five years. I am fortunate that I’m surrounded by a group of very supporting friends and my family are very understanding about my absence when they'd like me to babysit!
You can follow Marilyn's adventures on Instagram @adventures.with.m and find details about her upcoming trips on her website: https://www.adventureswithm.com/