Principle number 1 as laid out by LNT.org is “Plan Ahead & Prepare”.
Being prepared! What does that mean? Well for one, it is the Scouts Motto, and a good one at that!
A lot goes into being prepared, however, if you master the basics it avoids many potential issues in the future. Let’s start with the basics:
What? What activity are you planning? Running, Hiking, Climbing, Camping? Maybe a combination?
Where? Where do you want to go? Is it in the country or overseas? What is the terrain like? Do you know the area? What options do you have for overnight stay?
When? At what time of year do you want to go? What is the weather like then?
How Long? How many days do you want the trip to go on for? How much food, gas and other supplies will you need? How physically taxing is your route going to be?
With Whom? How many people are going? What are each of these people’s individual strengths? Are all your members fit and experienced enough for the chosen activity?
Using these questions can help you decide what and how much to pack, as well as help you decide if any additional specific gear is required. They will also indicate whether the trip is feasible and whether you may need a guide or a more experienced trip leader.
I am planning a Hiking trip to the Drakensberg in December for 4 days and 3 nights. We will hike +-10km per day over steep, challenging terrain up to Mafadi. We will stay in caves and make use of Centenary hut on one night. There are four hiking members in the party. The hiking members are all experienced and individually are skilled in cooking, first aid, navigation and trip leadership.
By writing this example out, I can now use it to decide on what gear goes in and what stays at home. I can also decide what equipment which party member will carry. This also helps with food and water planning.
So, let’s break down the example! We have decided to go Hiking for 4 days over tough terrain; we should pack our basic hiking kit and should plan on carrying lightweight, hiking friendly foods with enough calories to sustain our efforts. We should also keep in mind what litter comes with the food we take and how we will take it out with us. As December is in the rainy season, we should make sure we have gear and clothing to keep ourselves dry. We are staying out in caves and one of the nights in a hut and therefore will not need a tent. However, we should take bivvies or a form of emergency shelter. We will do most of our route “Off-Trail” and a map and compass or another method of navigation will be essential. We may move at night and should have headlamps and spare batteries. As we will use natural water sources, we will carry a minimum of 3L of water per person.
From here we can split up the tasks between our group members. As we go on with the series, we will discuss each member’s role in more detail. We will also discuss environmental impact and risk assessment.