Reassess, always.


There’s a concept in wilderness survival and risk management.  Basically, if something about your situation or environment changes, and you don’t account for the change in your decision making, you get screwed.

When your plan is based on good weather, and then clouds role in, you need to reassess.  Maybe you turn back, maybe not, but the point is you have to stay open to change.  We make plans with the information we have so it’s only natural that a change in information might change your plans.

And it’s shocking how often we mess this one up.

A classic example is when people are obviously lost but wont admit it, and so they keep walking for miles or days, wasting energy and making it harder and harder for rescuers to find them.

I’ve been assuming I’ll spend my summer in Scotland.  That’s still the plan.  But the environment, so to speak, has changed a bit.  When I failed to get through customs (and wasn’t told why) I assumed again that it would be a quick turn around…and it hasn’t been.

On the other hand, since my failed start I’ve been doing loads of climbing.  I also got to go on an epic canoe trip.  I’ve spent some quality time thinking deep thoughts about why I want to be in Scotland, and I’ve been thinking about the things I’ll miss if I go.

It’s kind of scary to imagine not going, it’s been my plan for a long time, and I hope I do go…but at the same time if things change and there ends up being a better plan I hope I can do that instead.  I want to go to Scotland because I want to go, not just because it’s the plan.

So…while I continue plotting my return I’m also trying to cast a real wide net here, I’m trying to stay open to the best plan, whatever it might be.

To me, this is a dark side to epic adventures.  When you’re making decisions for yourself it’s actually a lot of responsibility some times.  When is it good to push on, to keep going, and when is it stupid not to turn back?

This, to me, is why reassessment is so important.  Or reevaluating, or recalculating, or re-figuring-out-what-the-hell-I’m-doing.  Life is complex, things change, and we have to try and stay on top of it all.

2 thoughts on “Reassess, always.

  1. Hey Simon, I heard about you at work, at the same place your mom works in Maine. Wanted to thank you for bringing back some memories from one of my Scotland trips. In my early 20s, after a snowy climb up Ben Nevis, I met a young German hiker in Ft. William. We decided to hike from west to east across Scotland, following no path, living out in the open or sleeping in abandoned sheepherders’ “bothies”. Didn’t make it all the way across but had a look at some wonderful wild country and a few sheep. Finally took a train to a road and hitch hiked to the Isle of Skye for some camping, hiking and swimming, and of course sampling the local scotch in the pubs. Interesting how the sea water there is warmer than in Maine. Hope your trip was even 1/2 as amazing!


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