Years ago, both my father and the Boy Scouts taught me the most vital lesson. Have a plan A and a plan B. This is so that you are not only able to be prepared, but be visible and predictable to others so that they know when to start worrying. The other day I watched a movie 127 Hours that not only hit this point, but focused on this concept to the extent that there would not be a story to tell if these plans were put into place. In case you are wondering, the main character (Aron Ralston) reflects on who knows where he is and realizes that he did not tell anyone.
How does this work? Very simple, your plan A should be a written agenda of who, what, when, where, and what rule we all learned when writing in school. Think about who is going, where you are going, how long, check points (when), as well as guidelines for others to follow in case you are not heard from. This is not anything more than a guideline so diving into each section is not important as I am sure almost everyone can fulfill. The one item that is typically overlooked is what to do with the plan beyond hitting these points.
First step, your plan A should be nothing more than your regular planning session. Not a lot of people are aware that the forest service has a ton of amazing resources. They even have a “build your trip” tool you can use: https://www.recreation.gov/myTrips.do?tti=Trips
The plan B should be your contingency plan. For example, when I was going to Silverton, my plan B included alternate camping areas in case we moved locations, potential areas we would visit if something changed, and potential extended timelines in case something would cause a delay. This allowed me to be able to communicate with the other people participating as well as to let my emergency contact people know the details in case I was needed or they were needed.
What to do with your plans? Other than develop and stick to them, I almost always keep a written summary in my emergency pack, give a written summary to my emergency contacts, and include anything of value such as life impacting medical info such as insurance, blood type, medications needed, and allergies.
I have attached an example of a plan that I used for the Silverton trip. If you think this is overkill, please rethink it. I personally have seen the impact this would have made if the information was available.
In my book, the plan is something that I take very seriously and stay consistent with. Everyone who acts as my emergency contact expect this and know exactly when to take action. Please create a habit that screams something is wrong if you are not able to communicate this. On a side note, as you go to a lot of the resources I share, you will see the same theme of planning.
I know this might be a trivial part of the planning process because with all the tools we have in this current day and age this should be the easiest. The point I would make is that in almost every trip or adventure, poor planning almost always negatively impacts the overall experience and can be very dangerous. In almost every ride, trip, or adventure that I have been on I come across people who are suffering due to not planning properly even when it is blatantly obvious that they should have been prepared.
Getting the trip ready, what we needed when we got there, and what items were we grateful to have and bring?
This goes without saying, #1 rule when planning any adventure is to be prepared for the worst case. This is tough because what do you prepare for? This post is specifically addressing items that we learned spending 7 days in the mountains hopefully to help others, but more specifically to help the newcomers to the adventure circle.
Before I dive into each segment of planning, I want to keep this open by saying that I myself not only have a planning routine, but almost always over-plan to be sure. The challenge we all face is that it is impossible to plan for everything, but to be able to remain stable is the key. In the associated posts I will post tricks that I learned, cool products that have taken years to discover, and even ask for questions/input. For my own edification here is a high level summary of what is to come.
We were adventuring in areas that we have been in prior, however in an area that can have drastic swings in weather. There is always limitations on budget, space, cargo, etc. which almost always plays into what can be deemed as acceptable or overkill. A good rule of thumb is to do the following.
Again, I do not believe that any one way of doing things is better than the other. In my lifetime of adventures (camping to caving) there are real threats to safety and great opportunities to experience. At the end of the day, the experience is why we go on adventures and so my main goal is to keep the desired experience as positive as possible.
I am not just an adventurer, but I am a project enthusiast. I look for projects and overall love the hunt for an adventure. My nickname is Bubba who loves fly fishing, photography, building things, and is open to finding an adventure anywhere.