From start to finish, what does a typical outdoors excursion really look like? It depends on the time of year and the type of experience that one might desire. True adventures begin as a concept, turn into a plan, and culminate in many different types of outdoors adventures. Ultimately ending in cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
For me, the desire to get outside can typically be initiated by seemingly random occurrences throughout my day. Sometimes, that desire starts after smelling smoke from a neighbor's bonfire, seeing some amazing picture of a nature scene, or simply giving in to that internal unquenchable desire to step back out into the wilderness. The desire comes in many different ways, but usually results in packed bags and treks - leading to fun new experiences outdoors. Let's take a few moments to break down some of the moving pieces that contribute to a successful excursion into the outdoors.
Planning - The decision to pack up and head for the wilderness has been made. This is where the planning phase comes into play. Who do you want to bring along? What type of adventure best suits your interests? When is the best time to go? Where do you want to explore? Why is it important for you to allocate precious time to this adventure? How are you going to coordinate all of the moving pieces and pull off an awesome trip? These are all applicable questions and maybe you already know the answers to some of them. Allocating enough time to answering these questions will prove beneficial during your initial planning efforts. Hopefully your answers will push your decision over the edge of whether or not you should hit pause on your everyday life to go enjoy the outdoors.
Preparation - The major planning pieces have fallen into place and you are ready to get things moving along. In order to succeed, you will need to prepare yourself and your gear for your upcoming adventure. This also requires that you understand the area you intend to head to. For example, know if you need a permit. In some locations around the nation, you need to purchase permits or licenses well in advance in order to utilize recreational areas. Additionally, you need to understand all of the posted restrictions or limitations that you should be aware of before heading in.
When we prepare ourselves, it is important to conduct an honest internal assessment into whether or not we have the necessary skills to excel in the wilderness environment. This can go a variety of different ways. If you feel you are fully capable, it is still a wise decision to brush up on skills that you may employ along the way. On the flip side, if you are not fully capable it is advisable to reach out and learn new skills. NOTE: At the end of this article, there is a link that takes you directly to the Sojourner Survival Outpost Guided Excursions & Expeditions page.
Preparing your gear can be relatively straightforward. Research and understand the environment and terrain you are preparing to enter and pack accordingly. No one wants to get caught in the wild missing something necessary for survival. Finding the balance between critically important items and "nice to have" items can be a difficult task. It is up to you to decide how comfortable you want to be while keeping in mind that each item is going to add weight to your pack. A typical packing list can include some of the following items: specialized first aid kit, navigation gear, appropriate seasonal clothing (hot/cold/wet), technical gear, shelter (if desired), sleeping bag (or woobie), fire starting equipment, food, water (or means of gathering/cleaning water), terrain appropriate footwear, a multitool, headlamp, bushcraft knife, hygiene kit, and a book or other preferred entertainment. That list is not all-inclusive of course, but it can be a good place to start.
Finally, preparation includes planning for contingencies. What types of challenges might you face on your journey? It is always a good thing to come prepared when Murphy's Law is sitting around the corner. No matter what your experience level is, remember to always let someone that you trust know what your plans are and when you intend to return.
Get Outside - Both the planning and preparation phases are complete and it is finally time to launch. This is where all of the sweet benefits from prior planning and coordination come to fruition. With the backing of a thorough plan, this portion of the adventure should play out with little to no hiccups. That being said, there is no way one can plan for every single contingency. This is where it really pays to bring a solid set of bushcraft and survival skills that you can rely on to get you through unpredictable circumstances.
Launch - Before you hit the trail it is advisable to conduct a pre-trip inspection of everything on your packing list. Lay everything out and ensure that it is all in operable condition, your batteries are fresh, and you have appropriate navigation gear. Don't forget the rule, Two is one and one is none. That means two completely independent ways to ensure you can track where you are at all times. Ensure that you double check the weather conditions. You can form better situational awareness by looking at weather conditions leading up to your trip and for the duration as well. All that is left is for you to ruck up and hit the trails. Don't forget to pay attention to where you are heading at all times. NOTE: Some people can get so laser focused on getting to their final location that they end up missing out on amazing experiences during the journey. Slow down a bit and soak in the beauty of the world around you.
The Meat and Potatoes - In the military, we call this phase Actions on the Objective. This is the main event and the one that we will cover the least because you are the one custom writing this memory. Whatever your outing may consist of, don't forget to be safe, embrace life, give thanks to God, and remember the outdoors skills you have worked so diligently to refine. You have worked hard to get to this point - Enjoy it.
Exfil - Sadly, your journey is coming to an end. No need to start reminiscing yet, you still have your whole trek out. For some, this may be just a quick pack up and head home. For others, the exfil portion of the adventure is no small-scale event. Similar in many ways to the launch phase, it is advisable for you to check all of your gear before you head out. Double check your route and sanitize whatever space you have been in. Remember, No Trace Left Behind is more than a slogan. It is a way for us to preserve the outdoors for generations to come.
Consolidation and Reorganization - The impending return to everyday life has finally become a reality. One of the hardest tasks to complete (for me) during this phase is to lay out and wash all my gear and then let it dry/air out. This step is HUGE if you want your gear to last longer than just a few trips. I suggest that you do this right off the bat so it doesn't become one of those, I'll get to it tomorrow type tasks. Finally, dedicate some time to review your trip. One way of doing this is to list out lessons learned. Note what went wrong and why. Also, note what went right and why. Some people like to journal throughout this whole experience which can be a great way to rejuvenate memories later on down the road. This is also a great time to start brainstorming for your next adventure. Don't let life pass you by.
There is a significant amount of effort that goes into planning and executing a successful outdoor adventure. By ensuring you are thorough in every step of the process you can count on a couple things, your excursion is going to be an adventure and surprises will likely pop up along the way. The weather, terrain, predictable events/encounters, and the unforeseen experiences are all part of the lifestyle. Some might call that last one happy little training opportunities. Feel free to reach out to Sojourner, we have several options available to help you create some unforgettable memories.
Master the Wilderness!
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