Hi everyone, my name is Huw Rogers and I am a Discover Adventure Leader, a role which I have been lucky enough to perform for six years. I am a qualified Mountain Leader, a Mountain Bike Guide and a proud member of Brecon Mountain Rescue Team for 16 years. I have led trips in both in the UK and overseas and love working to support people achieve their goals.
Discover Adventure have asked me to write a regular blog spot on a range of subjects to try and help you plan and prepare for your adventures. I am one of those people that loves to improve and learn from my mistakes, so you can safely assume advice given in my blog has come from me learning the hard way!
Today I’m going to talk about being prepared. When I was younger, I remember the words echoing from my dad’s mouth when talking about a camping trip I was planning. He looked at the scant amount of kit in my rucksack and smiled. He was a keen Scout and still loves the outdoors. He then said “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe”. It was lost on me at the time, but it wasn’t long into that camping trip I understood what he meant; “Be prepared!”.
In fact, I can remember the people in school who used to brag about not doing any studying before an exam and coming out with all A’s! Well, let me let you into a little secret, I bet they were not telling you the whole story, as the old saying goes, nothing in life worth having comes easy.
So, let’s talk planning. Before you start thinking about specific advice, research the trip you are undertaking. Think about key factors. Is it is a day or night event? What are the likely weather conditions/temperature? What terrain you are walking on? What is the elevation and estimated daily mileage? Once this is in your mind, you will have an idea of exactly what you need to do. Go the Discover Adventure website and have read of the fantastically detailed information we can provide.
Once you have in your head your challenge, I want you to find a quiet room (go with me on this) then I want you to close your eyes, relax and put yourself on the start line of your adventure. What would be in your head, what would you wish you had done, what are your worries? The slowly bring yourself around, open your eyes and be back in the present time. Immediately you are now blessed with the gift of time, you can start planning how to make your adventure of a lifetime even better!
Everyone plans trips differently, but my key planning elements are:
- Equipment / kit
- Mental strength
- Logistics before/after event
So, let’s move onto kit or more formally, equipment. As a mountain leader and a lover of outdoor equipment, this is an area close to my heart (and bank account). When taking out groups we look for certain indicators regarding people’s experience in the outdoors. The kit they use is often a clue. I look for two things in gear. Firstly, is their kit fit for purpose and secondly, does it look like it’s just come out of the box. Both can be concerning for a group leader!
When choosing a kit for any overseas challenge, it can be difficult to replicate the conditions, but my firm advice is go to a reputable gear shop and gain advice from experts. This doesn’t (always) mean spending a fortune but is does mean that you can draw on the experience of people who know what they are talking about. It is also good to do your own research by watching YouTube clips and reading kit specific blogs. It’s amazing how into it you can get!
Get properly fitting boots and wear them in. I can’t stress this enough. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing someone on the first day of a trek with fresh-out-of-the-box boots. It only means one thing: blisters, blister and more blisters.
Write a kit list months before the event. Make a list with plenty of time to spare and start purchasing items as time goes by. This will allow you to spread the cost and also give you time to test it thoroughly before you rely on it. The key is to try things out in a variety of situations. Wear your raincoat in the rain, try different socks, get your base layers sweaty and be 100% happy with all your kit before you need it.
As I mentioned earlier, the Discover Adventure website has detailed information about each trip. Research the trip to see what is expected of you and then start working towards the goal. For example, Discover Adventure run a Yorkshire Three Peaks trek, which the website describes as a one-day 26-mile trek over three mountains in the UK. For you to be successful, your training would have to build up depending on your starting fitness level.
In training, you need to be working up to close to the full distance. Distance and climbing really is the key here, oh and training in all potential conditions. If you have trained in all conditions, your mental and physical strength will be at its peak for the event and the adventure will be not only manageable, but enjoyable and, while a challenge, will make you yearn for more.
Let’s talk about a multi-day trek. For any multi-day event, multi-day training is vital. The daily distance may not be as severe as a Yorkshire Three Peaks but day on day trekking brings with it its own challenges, such a build-up of blisters, fatigue and mental exhaustion. However, if you practise, you will learn to understand your body and the aches and pains you are likely to get and it will be much easier to treat and deal with issues under pressure. A positive mind-set is a huge part of multi day treks. If you practice in all conditions, you will develop mental strength. If you are mentally strong, you will enjoy your challenge more and radiate it to others which will in turn help them along when they are feeling anxious.
Now, the big day arrives. While on your Discover Adventure trek, the logistics of the day(s) will have been expertly and meticulously planned by the Operations staff and Leaders. But what about before and after? Think about your start and end game. Arrive on time. If it’s a UK event, have a warm and dry set of clothes in the car to change into at the end of the day in case the weather is wet. If an overseas trip, arrange transport to collect you from the airport terminal. These may seem like small things, but when you’re nervous and excited at the start or exhausted at the end, they can be a lifesaver.
If there is something you want me to talk about in the future, let the people at Discover Adventure know and I will endeavour to cover it if I can.
Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!