Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Trip Planning Workshop

Next week I will be teaching the first workshop solely devoted to trip planning. Obviously in conjunction with the release of my trip planning book. I am teaching it at Piedmont Hiking and Outing Club, which is a very active outdoor group located here in central North Carolina. 

I am in the early stages of creating a web based workshop, which will probably have two different levels. A self guided video version, and a more interactive version with one on one time to fine tune your plan. (I am looking at as a host for both of these, but if anyone has any recommendations I am in - no pun intended - uncharted waters.) 

This is something I am excited to teach, because at the end of the day my goal is to get people actively, and safely having amazing experiences in the outdoors. For years I have been hearing the reasons why people can't do trips. There are a lot of reasons people give for not doing a big trip - keeping in mind that a week of backpacking could be considered a big trip to a lot of people. Here are some of the big ones:

  I don’t have the (Fill in the blank). It could be money, time, ability, or another big one: permission from a partner or family members. 
Money is a good one. A lot of people say they don't have the money to do a big trip, or they don’t have the time to take off from work, giving up that income to do a month long (or longer trip.) We all have bills to pay, right? Mortgages, car payments, phone bills. Life insurance. Health insurance. College debt. Not having enough money is a perfectly valid reason. 
Except, it isn't. Money should never be a reason not to do something. The truth is, that it doesn't really cost that much to do an outdoor trip. A month of time is nothing. If it means you live lean to put money aside to cover your bills for a month, isn't that worth it? Of course it is. 
The other part of money is related to the gear. I don't have the money to buy the gear I need to do an epic trip. Except, it's a lousy reason. Gear can be purchased slowly, over time, to help defray cost, but here is the best part - once you have the gear, you can keep doing trips. Yes, my expensive kayak set me back, in terms of cash reserves, but once I had it, I didn't worry about having the gear I needed to do trips. I bought my Delta Seventeen because it was fun to paddle when empty, but could easily handle a month worth of food and fuel. I bought a drysuit by redirecting the money from my daily cup of coffee. It took about 4 months to save the money I needed. Money isn't the reason people don't do epic. Or at least it shouldn’t be a reason. 
Time. You don't have the time. No one has the time. We are all way too busy. Right? Doing something big takes time. Time to plan, to train, time to just get your mind around the idea that for a month you will be paddling a kayak or hiking a trail or climbing a mountain. Start there. But really, having the time to take a month off isn't easy. 
Except, nonsense, this is completely doable, and I’m going to tell you how. The “time” excuse is really a permission problem. See #5. You have the time. It is making the time a priority that is difficult. 
What about skills? I don’t have the skills to do this. I can't ride a bike, I can’t hike 1000 miles. I can't paddle 500 miles in a month. Maybe I should work on my forward stroke and rescue skills, and paddling in surf, and wind and cold water. And cycling, maybe I need to be stronger to climb hills, and learn to descend big hills safely. Mountain biking definitely has a skill set that needs to be learned. As does rock climbing, and mountain climbing. Skills or the lack thereof will certainly keep you from doing an epic trip. 

Except, guess what? Skills can be learned. Skills are supposed to be learned. We can use the process of learning new skills to build the foundations we need to do amazing outdoor trips. It can become part of the training for your trip. You want to climb El Capitan? Spend a couple of days climbing Cathedral Wall in New Hampshire. You want to ride cross country? First ride across your state, and before that, ride across your county. Before that, ride across your town. By starting with small trips and building to bigger ones, you will learn all about your needs while performing. You will learn what your food and fuel requirements are. What kind of seat you like in your boat, or on your bike. You will make all sorts of mistakes and learn from them. Wouldn't you rather do that paddling on a lake near your home, than on the coast of Alaska? With some hard work, and honest judgement, skills will come. 
Permission. I don't have permission. From my partner, from my work, from my family, from my dog to take a month off. I simply have too many responsibilities. Guess what? Nonsense.
All of these reasons, time, money, responsibilities and skills are problems of insufficient resources. Insufficient resources can always be overcome by resourcefulness. Always. So what are the real reasons we don't do big trips? It isn't a lack of money. It isn't a lack of time. It is a lack of resourcefulness, partnered with fear. 
Fear. It is really that simple. I won't be able to do this. I will look stupid. I’ll be ridiculed. I will fail, and people will make fun of me. I don't have enough knowledge. Fear. Fear is real. It sounds counterintuitive, but don't be afraid of fear. Fear is a driver. Fear is a motivator. Fear will help you think through every detail for your trip. Fear will help you prepare. Fear will get you to take that wilderness medicine course, which almost guarantees that you wont need any of those wilderness medicine skills.
 Fear can be a motivator, if you allow it to be. But fear can also paralyze you, keeping you from doing that trip you always wanted to do. Embrace fear, and work through it. 
There is one other reason why people don't do epic trips. Age. Regardless of what age you are, age becomes a reason. You are an adult, and having the ability to take that kind of time off is only possible if you are a teen or not yet in your "real career." Unfortunately, when you are a young adult, done with high school perhaps, but not finished with college, you may have the time but you don't have the money, or the discipline to be careful with your money to do a trip like this. I used to work freelance, and when I had the time I didn't have the money and when I had the money I didn't have the time, or at least that was the excuse. 
All of the previously mentioned reasons for not doing a big or epic trip, can be beaten by doing one thing first. One simple thing. It is hard at first, but once you do this simple thing it makes all the other things easy. It is deciding that you are going to do an epic trip. That is it. It is having the realization that you can work through any problem put in front of you, to get to a goal. Once you decide you are going to do it, really decide, you will let nothing get in your way. 

For more information on how to make a big trip happen, check out my book. 

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