Are the best adventures completely spontaneous? I actually love the planning stage. I also love abandoning plans and doing something completely different when the time comes, but it is in the planning stage that your adventure grows from let’s go for a walk to, let’s climb a mountain. There’s always some planning involved to achieve moments like these.
I have never been on what you would call an expedition, but I’ve planned hundreds of them in my head, some of which may have even made it to my notebook. Soon I’m going to discover whether the expedition is actually as fun as you imagine it will be. Next week, a friend and I will wild camp and hike a portion of the South West Coast Path. Normally, I’d call this camping, but in February… I’m looking at it as more of an expedition.
Google maps is probably the most wonderful invention for expedition planning. Not only can you plot out a route, calculate miles and even work out how long it will take, but you can zoom in and manipulate landscapes to check for good sleeping spots and hidden gems. For example, I scoped out a number of potential camps on the uninhabited islands of the Scillys from the comfort of my chesterfield.
Looking at maps is fun, and when you live in a, very compact, one bedroom flat, having all this technology available is very convenient. Still, digging out OS explorer maps can be fun too, if you’ve got the room.
Apart from looking at maps and planning routes, there is the ever growing kit list. I don’t know how the great explorers managed to get to the poles when every outdoor clothing company clearly states that you need a different jacket, hat, underlayer, pair of boots and pair of trousers for each season. I can’t deny being fooled by it. I’m currently in utter turmoil over the decision whether or not to buy a down jacket that is slightly lighter than my current down jacket. Ideally I’d have companies beating down my doors, begging me to wear their labels, but I might need a bigger readership than you and the other person half reading this… unless you own an outdoor clothing company that is.
Here is a list of the stuff I plan on taking on my wild camping trip next week:
- 3 season sleeping bag
- roll mat
- 30L rucksack
- 1 man tent
- bivvy (if the weather permits)
- hiking boots
- 1 pair of trousers
- 3 pairs of socks
- 2 or 3 t-shirts
- 1 jumper
- 1 fleece
- 1 down jacket
- 1 waterproof
- 1 pair of gloves
- 1 wooly hat
- something to cook with
- something to cook
- a spork
The list just goes on and on, then you realise you have to carry it all. You practice packing your bag. You decide that maybe you need a bigger bag. You decide you don’t want to take anything except for a fishing line and a knife. You realise you’re not a commando. You go back to your kit list and consider losing a pair of socks.
I have just bought a small tent. I’ve never been good at putting up tents. I struggle to see the shape when it is flopping around in the wind. I decided that this time I would master the tent build. I set about, just as I’m sure Shackleton and Scott would have, building my tent in my living room. The internet told me that any man should be able to achieve erection in 4 to 6 minutes…
The last thing to do is check the weather forecast and consider cancelling the trip.