Thursday, October 20, 2011

Always Unprepared to Always Prepared

Every day we wake up and face a certain number of tasks that we hope to accomplish. Every individual task involves a certain amount of preparation even if we might not realize it. If you’re going to work you have to do the necessary preparation to get ready for your day whatever it might entail. The same situation proves true with school, leisure, or outdoor excursion. Chances are you lay in bed the night before running through details of what needs to be done in order to get the necessary tasks accomplished for the day.

In the realm of physical activity, you can apply the same concept. If you go out to play 18 holes of golf for example proper preparation is necessary. You figure out what the conditions are for the day. Will it be hot? Windy? Is there a Chance of rain or a possibility of extremely cold temperatures? While this is just an example, how much time and consideration you put into these decisions, depending on the sport or activity you partake in can be critically important.

In August I had a minor heat stroke while out riding my bike. Preparation had a lot to do with my situation. I had not properly hydrated that morning, as I drank several cups of coffee and not much water. I chose to go out at the hottest part of the day, 110-degree temperatures on blazing hot asphalt. I only packed one Gatorade bottle, which was half full of Gatorade, and half full of water. With the heat of the day and my lack of preparation for the ride I quickly found myself out of water and alone on a lengthy bike ride. I was fortunate to make it back home that day, where I spent the remainder of the day recovering and kicking myself for my lack of preparation for the situation I was going into.

A few weeks back a friend and I went for a lengthy hike in Jackson, Wyoming. The morning started out cold and crisp and warmed up slightly through the hike. As we reached our first stopping point we had hiked over 4,000 feet to a much higher altitude. The temperature quickly dropped and the clouds moved in making the beautiful Tetons disappear. We stopped to rest and warm up. Despite our knowledge of the cold weather and high possibility of rain we decided to continue on to our destination, Marion Lake.

The hike to Marion Lake was 6.2 miles from where we started. The hike there was not that bad we went through some rain and it began to get muddy on the trail. I realized a few miles into that portion of the hike that having a rain jacket would have been the best way to be properly prepared for the backcountry Wyoming Mountains. We arrived to our Marion Lake destination and headed back. As we begun the hike home the rain began to pick up and the temperature quickly dropped.

My lack of preparation to pack accordingly to hike was beginning to take a serious toile on me. I was completely saturated in freezing rain and sleet and I was having trouble keeping feeling in my hands. With still four miles to go all I could think about was getting back to a safer situation then what we were in. I attempted to warm my hands and tried to have optimistic thoughts and ignore the current situation, which was seemingly becoming worse. The last few miles of the hike were pure adrenaline. The desire to live which might seem farfetched but after my recent heat stroke, I knew hypothermia and frostbite were becoming a serious factor. We pushed through and made it to the base of Jackson, Wyoming.

As I type currently I have not regained full feeling in my right hand. At first I was worried, a little scared about what this might mean for the long term. I have spent hours kicking myself for not preparing myself properly for that day on the mountain. But as the days go on I realize that it was a learning experience and there is nothing I can do about it at this point. After my heat stroke I am always sure to pack plenty of water after this experience I will always be sure to be properly equipped when hiking. Never leave home unprepared. You can never be over prepared, but you can always be underprepared.