At The Heart Of My Bucket List

At The Heart Of My Bucket List

Kathy Chislett gave a copy of Travel Play Live featuring herself on the front cover ( Issue #12 ) to her cardiologist. He giggled and told her she was on fire and that she looked like a hippie. He is thrilled that she can climb mountains – but not nearly as thrilled as her. 

We love getting to know our tribe members and so invited Kathy to share a glimpse of her story.

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A few years ago I was really sick with what I thought was asthma. But after many tests he found a 2.5 cm hole in my heart. It had never been detected which is rather crazy (apparently over 20% of us are walking around with a hole in the heart that hasn’t closed properly after birth). My hole was extremely large and had been misdiagnosed for 50 years (I am also asthmatic and the symptoms are similar). 

Sadly, many people don’t get diagnosed until they have suffered a stroke. But it’s easy to fix with a great surgeon: no open-heart surgery required. I felt fantastic almost immediately and was breathing deeply like never before. 

 It’s been three years since my Patent Foramen Ovale closure surgery and with a new implant I feel great. My cardiologist said I have no limits so I have a long bucket list to tick off. Health issues certainly change your outlook on life along with priorities and plans for the future. My husband and I retired early at age 54 after many years of being in business. We have a new appreciation for great health and I am now able to enjoy a few more adventures. I’ve tried abseiling, bungy jumping, white water rafting, zipping, ATV driving, kayaking, mountain biking and even ice climbing. 

 My bucket list mostly includes hiking (my biggest passion) and I’m putting the final touches on a trip to Switzerland (Jungfrau) and Italy (Dolomites and Cinque Terra) for later this year.

 I’m just a very average girl. I didn’t even start hiking until five years ago when I lost my sister to Melanoma cancer. I was overwhelmed with grief and sadness. Walking was the only thing that brought me inner peace. Hiking offers great healing, not only for grief but for general mental health. I’m a big believer in the power of Mother Nature and have met so many hikers who have developed the same passion for similar reasons. 

 A little bit about THAT photo: Prest Mountain, Norway

Norway is a hiker’s dream. The natural beauty is breathtaking and you don’t need to worry about snakes, bears, cougars or anything else in the wild. We had been on a week long hiking adventure with a small group from around the world who shared my passion for hiking. We started and finished our Hvitserk Tour in Oslo, had hiked to Preikestolen, Trolltunga and Kjerag Boulder, and wanted to see more of the magnificent fjord country. On our way to Bergen we stayed in the popular tourist village of Flam (scenic railway fame) and chose a couple of hikes in the area. The hike to Prest Mountain is not easy to access but that made it even more satisfying (and far less travelled by tourists). We caught a taxi to the starting point which is about 3 kms beyond the well known Stegastein Lookout. 

 It’s a favourite hike for locals and we bumped into one of the Flamsbana train drivers along the way. We allocated three hours, but really should have allowed more time to enjoy the views from the top. We had to run back down the mountain to meet our patiently waiting taxi.

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 It was a warm day for Norway and we had worked up a sweat as we climbed the mountain (it was pretty steep but doable with general fitness). After reaching the end of the hiking trail at Royrgrind and being thrilled to sign the visitor’s book I was still really high on adrenaline. With a little encouragement from my mischievous husband I removed my shirt and then my bra...let’s just say for the sake of an artistic pic...but to be honest it was refreshing, invigorating and the freedom was beyond my expectations. We were alone on the top of a mountain in the fjords of Norway...a dream I had held for a long time. It did not disappoint. I giggled a little at the rhyming of Prest and breast to later learn that Prest actually translates to Priest. I’m not so sure this is what any Priest had in mind when this mountain was named but the views over Aurlandsfjorden certainly were serene...almost heavenly. 

I will never forget the peace and childlike joy of climbing this mountain. The overwhelming feeling of freedom in the fjords will live with me forever. If you find yourself in Norway: add this hike to your bucket list...no regrets!



Story by Kathy Chislett
Kathy Chislett is a self-proclaimed ‘ordinary girl’ who featured on the front cover of Issue #12. Her cheeky snap won first place in our Happy Place Photo Competition and landed Kathy a TPL Life Membership.



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