2017, Chaitén, Expeditions, etc.

The Lessons: Part Fem*

Expeditions have a way of teaching much if you know where to look.  Some of this year’s lessons are specific to the Valdivian or Siempreverde rainforests, others more general.  Some are obvious, others, not so much.  With those unobvious ones, one has to to search a little harder, dig a little deeper.  I got some of each this year, along with some re-hashing and reminding of older, previous ones.

  • Down Sleeping Bags: In this part of Patagonia they suck, quite literally.  And for me who worries a lot, it just gives me one more thing to worry about.  I have a system for camping that has been developed over 20 years of synthetic bag use and it was challenging to adapt it to a down bag.
  • Learn Fucking Spanish: It is easier to get information, find what you need and develop relationships with the locals if you can speak their language, duh.  Despite this having been my eighth trip to the region and continued practice over the years, I still possess, at best, rudimentary Spanish language skills.  
  • You Can Never Be Strong Enough: Well, this speaks for itself and remorse sucks.
  • Simplify Your Options: Early on we had many ideas and options on where we could try to go.  Had we pared down these ideas we could have put our focus in one place.  
  • Partners: Bring a good one.  It seems I was able to do that on this expedition.  There was a lot of laughter and hard work.   Despite never having spent so much time  alone together before, it seemed we were able to get along well enough, which I deem very important on trips of this nature.  
Sorting and re-racking in our waterfront kitchen
  • Learn to Stem Worries: Spheres of influence have greatly impacted my life.  In daily life, both at work and play, I can easily separate what I can control and what I can’t control and not let things bother me that are out of my control.  It seems I struggled more with this on this expedition.  Not voicing these worries is a place to start.
  • Bring a Durable Helmet: Despite having packed the Petzl Sirocco many times in an expedition load pack and never having negative results, it was this time that I found it cracked and broken upon removing it from my bag.  Duct taped helmets don’t inspire confidence in me.  Light is right, only if it is functional (and mine was on the verge).
  • Self-Reliance: I like self-reliance.  Having to wait for a boat to cross a river does not a settled Jared make.  Being able to walk in or out of the backcountry on my own allows me to feel more in control.  And that is something I desire. This directly relates to stemming worries, as stated  above.
  • Other Gear Thoughts: 1) I thought I brought a good solar panel, but this is the second expedition on which I have had a Goal Zero solar panel malfunction on me deep in the backcountry. 2) Check the age of the batteries I bring as backups/extras. 3) In this environment, the Patagonian jungle, wetness is everywhere; many dry sacks and/or thick, durable trash bags are essential. 4) Be more aware of the size range of my gear, or just bring a #6.
  • Details: They matter, particularly in the backcountry.  I am a detailed oriented person and need to stay that way when planning expeditions (see #2 above).

No doubt there are countless more buried in my psyche and written in the old, torn pages of my notebook, woven within the words that fill the faded pink lines.  I only hope that I can distill them before once again venturing onto the tattered edges of a yet unknown map.


*for those not well versed in Danish, five is the English translation of fem.  At least according to translate.google.com

Featured Image: Lessons scribbled in the back of the expedition journal.