TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, ADVENTURE’S HAPPENING
Boy Scouts’ slogan got it right! With a small adjustment: be prepared for the unknown. What do you need to bring on the trip? Really, there are only two musts: make sure your brain is working and positive attitude is turned on. All else is for extra comfort, since you will likely be roughing it without a bagful of personal belongings. Careful packing is a crucial way to anticipate and smoothly overcome possible hurdles on a badass journey. Play the trip out to yourself over and over again, visualizing the euphoria and the challenges. Think of the material necessities that should accompany those abstracts. This way, you will mitigate the stress of the unknown.
There is no ultimate way to prepare for what’s coming on the adventurous path — that’s the point. It is possible, however, to make arrangements for imaginable encounters. Everyone has different wants, preferences, and pet peeves about what to bring on a trip and what to omit. Consider those nuanced details! If you thoughtfully prepare according to your likings, luck will likely follow; even if some object will be missing.
BRING THE SAVING GRACE
Oftentimes it served me well to be intently over-prepared. The prominent example is having stomach, head, cold, and heartburn medications – these don’t take up much space, but saved the mood too many times to count. Depending on the location, other less obvious items might also be incredible assets.
We were hiking around for three days on a fly-in fly-out type of island outside of Katchemak Bay in Sea Otter Sound near Homer, Alaska. This several square miles spec of land in the vast waters of south-central Alaska is hardly accessible even by boat, especially during low tide. The rain was pouring nonstop the first two days of our extended weekend. On the morning of day two, we walked into the low waters along the shore rock formations to collect mussels for lunch. The taste of these fresh mollusks, steamed in white box-wine over the campfire, was worth the trouble of nicking all our fingers while plucking the black shells off the rocks.
Since you’re sure to walk in several inches of water, waterproof shoes are a requisite for this activity (actually any activity on an Alaskan island expedition requires even more formidable Xtratuf boots, which I was silly enough not to bring). That’s exactly when my old but trusty pair of Northface boots failed me. The sole of my three-year old right shoe started coming unglued. The toes became practically exposed and my wool socks immediately became wet. My instinct kicked in, and, in a split second, sent me hopping out of the water onto the surface rocks. The front of the shoe flopping like a jaw, “they are too hungry to go on” was the uneasy comic relief. The weather was extremely chilly and wet. Stabbing shell beaches, precarious layers of moss, and thick brush are the terrain of the island. The only way out via Beaver aquaplane was days away and traversing that whole time barefoot ‘d be unfeasible. Clearly, losing the only footgear would be detrimental to my feet, killing any joy of the getaway. With each passing minute, the rest of the trip felt more and more like a doomsday scenario to me. I did want to cry.
There’s a saying in Alaska: can’t go anywhere without Duck Tape and Spam. Luckily, I’ve taken that mantra to heart and developed a habit of always stowing a roll of Duck Tape in the far inside pocket of my Jansport daypack. It completely skipped my mind in those moments of heavy-heartedness, but hope returned to me in time. Far from our camping spot, we ran into the middle of the dense woods, for some minimal relief from the rain, and started to repair my boot. I wrapped the tape around them at least a gazillion times. (Duck Tape if used properly, is also waterproof). It did the trick, ultimately protecting me from hyperthermia; the day was saved. We passed on mussels till the next day, and had Spam for lunch.
The 3rd guest POst in the Vital (cliché) steps to adventurous travels series from someone who has a lot to say about spontaneity, facing fears, and traveling with tips on how to embark on an adventure of your own.
The other POsts in this series can be found by following these links:
the tiny village/town behind Igor is Jelondi, Pamir, Tajikistan
Igor Postrekhin is a (seemingly fearless) world-traveler and professional adventurer. He is also my brother. Having a travel journal including more countries and cities than most will ever even contemplate visiting in their life-time, Igor has a unique perspective on wild experiences, facing fears, cultures & people, and most importantly living life without the constraints of society’s rulebook. A direct quote from his About Me section on his Couchsurfing profile (which has an overwhelming 142 positive reference list) says “Passion is the fuel that keeps me going. Extremes and adventures exhilarate me, obscure the norms.” He is currently living in Xinjiang, China.