In this next installment of the “Other 10 Essentials” (O10E) let’s change directions a bit. The first three essentials dealt with becoming more mentally focused and in tune with the environment in which the outdoor adventurer moves;
These elements coalesce into an amalgam that might be categorized as one’s state of mind. The next three essentials focus on the outdoor adventurer’s state of being. These essentials are not as esoteric as the first three, but they are important to consider as one enters into the very real and physical requirements that accompany outdoor activity.
Take stock of your physical condition and perhaps what boundaries exist for your stamina, outdoor abilities, and adventure skill level. This applies to the new hiker or the experienced mountaineer. Self-awareness demands an objective evaluation of what you can and cannot do.
It is fool hardy and dangerous for an inexperienced hiker to attempt a twenty-mile hike over a 14,000’ high alpine pass when all they have done prior to that are three to five-mile hikes across rolling ridges in the foothills. It happens much too often that outdoor adventurers will do this only to be found by cadaver dogs days later or if lucky, airlifted out by a search and rescue team.
This is not to say that a person shouldn’t challenge oneself, and we’ll discuss that later, but having a clear understanding of your abilities in the outdoors is vital.
The ancient Greek axiom, “Know Thyself,” was purportedly inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The adage, of course, has deeper meaning but for purposes of our discussion, self-awareness also means not comparing yourself to others. The 10th-century encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, The Suda, says: “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are and that ‘Know Thyself’ is a warning to not pay attention to the opinion of others.”
It’s your hike, your trail, your mountain and your pace.
Being aware of your physical “now” helps you to enjoy the outdoor experience as well as developing an understanding of where you want to be in the days to come as new adventure presents itself.