One of the things I’ve always loved about the wilderness and being on the ocean is that everything is what it is. No masks, no motives, no hidden agendas. Mother Nature can be the hardest of taskmasters, but I’ve never found her to be disingenuous or unfair, and on the very rare occasions that I thought that was the case, I realised later on that it was my own ego that was speaking.
I've been stuck on exposed ridges when an unexpected bad weather comes rolling through; that’s on me. I've almost fallen into boulder crevasses over having been too complacent to not tie my boot laces properly; that’s on me. I've walked 15kms through mud sometimes waist deep and had cramps in my legs that have kept me awake all night and you know what, that’s on me as well.
When you get right down to it, once I have made the decision to head out into those wild untouched places or journeys along the tracks, everything that happens after that is a byproduct of my original choice. It’s all on me. The process of accepting full responsibility for all of your choices is the first step in a concept referred to as the “Three A’s” – Accept, Adapt and Appreciate – of wilderness hiking and adventure trekking. A set of principles that have collectively represented one of the cornerstones of not only giving clients unique opportunities to escape and explore but translate into their lives to further their potential, whether it be knowledge to get out more often and enjoy the wide open spaces, gain supported solo experiences, goal setting or reaffirming their potential.
Accept the environment on its own terms. The natural world is inherently fluid. Conditions can vary dramatically from hour to hour, day to day, let alone from one season to the next. Hikers who head into the wilderness with an itinerary that’s set in stone and a mindset to match often find themselves in trouble when Mother Nature does an about-face, as she is sometimes, more often than not is prone to do.
Adapt accordingly. Once you have made an rational and managed risk assessment and accepted a situation for what it is – rather than what you thought it might or should be – theory must then be translated into action. Decisions in the wilderness should be based upon two overriding considerations:
1. The conditions you are facing and the unknown.
2. Do you have the ability, skill, equipment and experience with which to safely negotiate those conditions?
The decision is made; action has been taken. Now it comes down to perspective. Whether the challenge you are facing is simple or difficult in the extreme, nothing will ever be gained by moaning, blaming and second-guessing. By choosing – and it is a choice – to view the tough moments as opportunities to learn rather than obstacles to endure, you give yourself the gift of appreciation.
When I think about it. When are the times when I've have learnt the most from out in the wilderness? Is it when the sun is shining, the temperatures are comfortable, and I'm are powering along on a clear path with pretty scenery all around? Or is it when Mother Nature is flexing her meteorological and/or topographical muscles with extreme heat, white-outs, heavy rain & high winds or much tougher than anticipated terrain and you have no choice but to embrace the suck, focus, and do everything in your power to deal with what is being thrown your way?
Mother Nature’s Boot
When I think back over the course of my outdoor experiences, both on land and out on the water, I have been kicked up the bum by Mother Nature more times than I can remember. In fact if I looked hard enough after a few challenging expeditions and offshore experiences you'd see the imprint of her foot permanently tattooed across my backside. That said, if you spend enough time in the wilderness and with nature living on her terms, a certain amount of bum kickings are a given. What is not a given is how you react to them.
The Three A’s are all about learning to view challenging situations as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks. Whether it be in the wilderness or your everyday life, nothing builds strength and character like overcoming difficulties. That doesn’t mean you should necessarily go out looking for crappy conditions to learn from, eventually they will find you. What it does mean is that when are faced with a testing examination, life situation, you will be able to recognise and embrace its value, and subsequently not only survive, but also thrive as a result of how you deal with it.
Contact Escape-And-Explore for your next tailored adventure and embrace those challenges.
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