Holding back the group, we’ve all been there whether it be due to that throbbing pain in your back, your uncomfortable ski boots, or subpar fitness. There are many ways a good group dynamic can be undermined, but perhaps the worst of them all is having a “weak link” on board.
Here are some things you can do before your next trip to be sure you’re not “that guy” :
As a general rule, the 10 day backpacking trip you’re about to go on is not the time or place to see if you like those new hiking boots or that backpack you’ve been eyeing on backcountry.com. Be sure all of your gear is functioning appropriately and fits you well. Both your feet, and your partners, will be glad you did.
Know your body and listen to it
Don’t wait until the week before you leave to start working on loosening up your tight hips and hamstrings. Stretching every day is a simple way to maintain a healthy, happy body that will pay huge dividends on that big trip you’re planning, no matter what the activity may be. Speak up if you’re not feeling well. Your body will let you know when it’s being pushed too far. Being the tough guy and trying to push through can cause serious problems. Turning around earlier means you can recover faster, lessen your chance of serious injury, and avoid a potentially disastrous situation.
Turn that frown upside down
A positive attitude is more valuable than gold on wilderness trips, especially when things go wrong. Don’t be the one complaining when you realize that you’re standing on a false summit and you have another mile to go. A smile and some positive words help you accomplish your goal by keeping the motivation and psyche up for the whole group.
Perhaps the most important of all these is to be physically prepared for your trip. Every group is only as strong as it’s weakest link and it sucks to be the one holding the group back. Be honest with yourself in terms of your own fitness and train accordingly. There are hundreds of great training resources to choose from, find one that addresses your needs and stick to your training program. Nothing feels better than being strong enough to lead the charge on summit day and set the boot pack. Consider Steve House and Scott Johnson’s book, “Training for the New Alpinism” for any wilderness activity you may have planned that involves physical exertion.
Having these bases covered will radically improve the quality of your next wilderness trip. Get fit, stay fit, and have a great time out there!
How to start a fire.