In 1996 during a hike in Bolivia’s Cordillera Apolobomba, I spent a full day in an abandoned miner’s hut riding out the ‘Mother of all Storms’. During this enforced break, I came up with the Three A’s of travelling in developing countries: acceptance, adaptation and appreciation. Translated into backcountry terminology, it goes something like this:
- Accept the environment on its own terms: The natural world is a fluid one. Conditions can vary dramatically from day to day, let alone from one season to the next. Hikers who head into the wilderness with an itinerary that’s set in stone and a mindset to match often find themselves in trouble when Mother Nature does an about-face.
- Adapt accordingly: Once you have made an assessment and accepted a situation for what it is (rather than what you thought it might be), theory must then be translated into action. Decisions in the wilderness should be based upon two overriding considerations; 1. The conditions you are facing, and 2. Do you have the ability, equipment and experience with which to handle those conditions?
- Appreciate and Learn. The decision is made; action has been taken. Now it comes down to perspective. Whether the challenge you are facing is simple or difficult in the extreme, nothing will ever be gained by negativity. Learn to appreciate the tough times. View them as opportunities for greater understanding; both in terms of yourself and also the natural world into which you have chosen to venture.