The weather changed
URG! The weather report was wrong. . . .again. We wake up with frost on our tents, a light layer of ice and snow crystals paint the tussock grass and about 50 meters of visibility. I bravely escape out of my cozy warm cocoon of my sleeping bag put on the warmest clothes I packed, timidly slop on my wet boots from the bush whacking we did the day before as we traversed off trail along a ridge line. Today is going to be a big day, we have to navigate ourselves over a couple more peaks and then cut back down to another trail (we were far off trail at this point, intentionally). Water is attempting to be boiled as we need some good solid breakfast before we head off. As we wait for that to happen, we break down camp while freezing our hands in the process.
We gather together, set some bearings and are off to the races. In this time a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. As miserable as this seemed to be, I was enjoying it. I guess that means I really love backpacking, getting out in a world I have no control over, facing the elements, testing my spirit, facing the unexpected, and figuring things out as we go. There is just something special about it. However, I look to my left and to my right and I see that my team is not as thrilled as I am. They are miserable, the conditions suck and there is no definite end in sight as we don’t really know how long it will take to get to the trail at the bottom. However, this kind of stuff is not for the weak of heart. We all charge ahead full throttle, taking bearings, lining each other up and getting the job done. It was a good lesson of grit (strength in character). Despite many not feeling comfortable in the terrain, being cold, everyone was able to come together and get the job done. Each step had to be taken with care and everyone had to pay attention. Despite all of this it takes something deep inside to keep going and make it all work. As the saying goes “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. The get going is the mental game. How do you get your mind right when the situation absolutely sucks?!
Fundamental truth: Situation + your attitude = YOUR EXPERIENCE
There are often times you are not able to control the situation however you can ALWAYS control your attitude. Although this makes total sense, I know, it can be really hard but it is totally doable. Back to the story, Situation: terrible weather, wet boots, compass navigation, cold hands and feet. These are not totally controllable other than putting the appropriate clothing on. Each person now is responsible for his/her attitude and that can make your break your experience. So, at this crossroads one can decide to make the best of it or you can allow the situation to control you and you can complain, complain and be miserable. Your choice. Here are a few ways to make the best of the situation
- Go through your concentration routine (mantra, deep breath and physical action)
- Distract yourself from the current setting, give you a quick mental break
- Smile and know that this is going to be the best thing to do
- Acknowledge the bad situation and move on to the task at hand
- Set mini goals for yourself, and focus on that one step at a time
- Repeat a positive mantra in your head in order to stay calm, grounded and focused
- Ultimately, the ability to mentally keep yourself mentally strong will make or break an experience.
This is most definitely a skill that can be developed and worked on. Starting off with one of these strategies will put you well on your way.Up on that mountain because we are travelling as a group each person has to decide how he/she is going to pull it together. Some did this better than others,
we trudged on contouring the mountain through
some snow, making out way as we had about 50m of visibility until we found ourselves at tree line. The loss of elevation meant the temperature increased and to our surprise we found a trail that would take us to a hut where we could have lunch. We arrive at the hut about 1 hour later to find a hut where we can make some tea and prepare lunch. These things happen all the time in sport as well. Have you ever disagreed with the umpire/referee, has the weather caused a change of schedule, have friends said some not so nice things, the examples can go on and on. So, the next time your situation is controlling you, remember the part you play and do something to work on that attitude! Attitude is contagious, do you want to spread a good one or a bad one?