In about a week and a half, I’ll be headed out to a bit of crown land with a friend of mine. It’s going to be an interesting experience, since I’m not used to letting someone else plan a route for me. I’ll be going in essentially blind, but that’s fine. I’m going with a standup guy, and we’ve both got good heads on our shoulders.
I like to make sure that every time I head out into the bush, I learn something. If I don’t, then all it means is that I wasn’t paying attention. For each trip, I also like to try and give myself some goals. They’re nothing crazy – sometimes they’re restrictions I place on myself, like not bringing a tent, or using a flint striker to start all my fires, sometimes they’re just an attempt to focus, like trying to keep my stuff together when portaging.
This time, navigation is key, so I’m going to set my sights on the orienteering skills I remember learning in junior high, about two decades ago.
Wish me luck.
This approach has helped me in the past, however. I now know how long and how difficult it is to get a fire started if you dropped me in the middle of nowhere with just a knife and my shoes, or how well I can rig a hammock or a tarp in gale winds (not well, sometimes), or how well I can deal with dehydration (not well at all).
Each time I challenge myself, it’s a bit of a learning experience. I’m not an extreme sports guy, by any stretch of the imagination — heck, I’m not even a regular sports guy. I could continue to safely enjoy myself by going to the cottage, or riding the comfortable, well-traveled routes, but I learn a bit more about my environment every time I get outside of that comfort zone.
More importantly, I learn a bit more about myself.