I think its part of the process of ageing or is it? Yet as I get older I consider some of the things I have done and the consequences and am amazed that I am still walking the earth, yet we all do these things on a whim.
I can remember staying in England at Lake Windermere when my wife and I decided to stroll in the Fells( hills ) as it was a beautiful sunny day. Then when the village was out of view we were engulfed in the thickest, wettest mist ever experienced-without a compass, torch or raincoat. Needless to say the KWV wine and port that evening made the experience of being lost, cold and drenched worthwhile. Yet we could have stayed up there all night and may have succumbed to hypothermia.
I have done a few silly things and learnt each time, in my early 4×4 days I once extricated myself from deep sand using my vehicle mat set and my son’s beach bucket and spade, lucky no one saw that plan in action.
Unplanned = Unprepared
Yet all these little excursions had one thing in common, they were unplanned and thus unprepared. Whether you go off-road without equipment or park the 4×4 and decide to go on a short hike just because someone told you” the view from the top of the ridge around the corner of the hill is beautiful”, you need to have a plan, sort of like a mental checklist. The weather is not something we can predict, nor can the weather bureau (my iPhone app is not bad though-but will my battery last?).Remember in areas we frequent like George, Knysna and the Tsitsikamma, you can have all four seasons in a day, generally ranging from the best to the worst.
So the lesson is to be prepared if you are going to explore, it does not matter if you are staying in 5 Star accommodation whilst on the Garden route, when the itch bites and you decide to leave the tar either on foot of by 4×4 you need to have a few things in the vehicle- yes stuff, stuff that should always be with you when the spirit of adventure strikes. Okay let’s see what the absolute essentials would be!
Tools of the Trade
Your Garmin, yes it looks great in your window and shows people that you are a cool rugged adventurer but see that it is charged and take it along, save the parking spot as a waypoint (just in case you get lost) and it’s better to have it off the dash as temptation may cause a break in whilst you are away. On that note if you have stuff in the load box of your vehicle rather reverse it close to a wall, tree or rocky outcrop-make it difficult to access your goodies.
Now have you checked the weather on your Smartphone? It’s no good venturing off on foot or in low range if it’s going to bucket down in the next few hours. You have a torch, lighter and a compass? But do you have spare batteries for the torch?
And your GPS Smartphone are charged, well I hope so. Then you all have rain jackets and perhaps a few space blankets, water and a first aid kit- yes all essential even for a day 4×4 trip or a hike into the forest.
The lady who sold you the tickets at the entry gate also gave you the quaintest route map, it had been drawn by her 5 year old and photocopied a 1000 times yet you are happy to tackle the route with your family? Back up saving the waypoint, use a compass and shoot a bearing as well-it could be long and cold out there, perhaps even wet and muddy.
Well now you are ready to set off, do you at least have a few litres of water -cool drinks don’t count? Snacks and proper shoes, these are important for walking and driving, big hiking boots are not great for control of the accelerator and clutch and the delightful Crocs the whole family is wearing are not great on an 8 km hike through the bush.
Then throw in a few last essentials or store them under or behind a seat, matches to back up the lighter, a decent knife, duct tape and a few bin bags-preferably yellow or green. the bin bags are useful as they can be made into emergency raincoats and can cover camera bags in a downpour, keeping your expensive equipment dry.
I suppose the gist of this article is about being prepared at all times, ensuring that you always have e few essentials with you and not simply venturing into the unknown. You have a responsibility to yourself and your family. Enjoy yourselves and the beauty of our country, be responsible as well to the environment and share it with your kids!