Wednesday, January 18, 2012

3 things to check for before you embark on an expedition

When you get busy with the equipment, the travel arrangements, creating a social media presence, it is easy to ignore items that you need to check for in yourself before you are exposed to the demands of an expedition. Expedition, as the word goes, involves some arduous task for an extended period of time -- Be it climbing dizzy heights, hiking long hours day after day, kayaking hard for months or navigating your way across uninhibited landscapes. You need to be as ready as your equipment is. Sure, you have been preparing long and hard, you are raring to go..but these 3 things below are easy to miss in the last minute euphoria of starting on the expedition. They will mean life or injury/death if ignored.

1. Check your hemoglobin count - It will pay rich dividends if you know what your RBC levels are BEFORE you go. It'll prevent fatigue during the expedition. Over time this fatigue can build up into a life threatening weakness. It might mean leaving the expedition altogether. And any hurried arrangements to get it back to normal levels while ON the expedition are of no use anyway. Know and handle this at least 3 weeks before you go.

2. Notice and feel each breath you take. Are there any tiny stabs of pain or discomfort that you have noticed in the last 2 weeks? Anywhere? Is there any tummy trouble that is more than butterflies of anticipation? Do not sweep even the tiniest of  health issues under the carpet at this stage, or decide that you will deal with it during the expedition. Believe me, there will be enough things during the expedition that you have to deal with, let this not add to the burden. Get tests done, consult your physician/sports doctor and resolve at the earliest.

3. Analyse, very very honestly... are you really really ready? Ready for the long haul ahead or ready just for smiling at the cameras at the finish line? Often, in the time after you announce the expedition till the time you actually begin it, there is hardly a second you get to yourself in between all the training, media appearances, logistics planning, choosing equipment etc. There is no shame in postponing an expedition or abandoning it altogether if you do not feel prepared enough. Never ever, however last minute that decision is taken. True, it might cost you money, time and perhaps reputation. But then are they worth your life and what it'll take away from your loved ones?

Give this a long hard think. What more do you think you would check for? Write in your experiences.