The final weeks in the countdown for departure have been incredibly busy and filled with preparation tasks. This is a short round-up of what I’ve been up to to give you some insight into The Final Month.
The second and final box of gear was delivered from the US by my friend Nicole. It had some important unique items like the Soto stove and Zpacks rainjacket and some more general items like a Lifeproof Fre waterproof phone case, some maps, tent stakes, cordage and other miscellany. All told, about $600 of gear. After the long winded process of using our respective nations’ postal system with the pre-Christmas box and with only 5 weeks remaining before I left the UK, I elected to stump up $170 for delivery by Fedex, thinking that would be the safest option for getting my parcel.
It went missing. To cut a long story short, it eventually transpired that it was delivered to a building on a nearby street whose address bore no resemblance to mine whatsoever. The person who accepted the delivery just kept the parcel and didn’t think to walk the 100 yards around the corner and deliver it to me or to contact FedEx about the mistake. But after 3 days I did eventually get it. Cue much relief.
Some tasks in recent weeks are ‘big’ tasks, such as transferring cash from savings and investments into my current account so I can pay my rent and bills while away; getting the rainjacket and stove sorted out, practicing bear bag hanging (the subject of an upcoming post), practice camps, resigning from work and organising the transition there, making various mods to my pack, tent and other gear to make it work better for me, finding and testing a reliable VOIP service for making ‘phone calls’ on trail; buying a prepaid currency card to make it easy, cheap and secure to pay for things in the States, researching and buying travel/health insurance; making sure my mobile phone provider won’t cut me off when I use my phone abroad for 6 consecutive months (and, yes, they would have and maybe they still will!), etc.
Most tasks though are quite small in themselves but add up to one big workload. For example, making sure I have all my various personal and account information to hand while abroad (passport and banking info, account credentials with financial organisations, websites, utility providers, accountant, etc.), and the various instructional and repair manuals for my gear in electronic format; getting my music, audio books, podcasts and ebooks downloaded onto the appropriate devices; checking how many boils I get from my stove with a standard canister; figuring out my first few days of food and then buying and packaging it; preparing my first aid kit; creating my ‘spares & repairs’ bag; unsubscribing from every non-essential email newsletter and Facebook page possible to reduce my time and bandwidth requirements on trail; figuring out how to transport my gear on the flight; testing all my gear such as camera, gloves, phone case, socks, fleece, etc;
When I had lunch with my Mum with 8 weeks remaining my To Do list was 152 items long. It has slowly gotten shorter though still stands at about 30 items today with 18 days to go. One of the problems is that “Make up first aid kit” is one task but of course involves multiple products each of which needs selecting, purchasing and re-packaging.
As well as a thru-hike with all that involves this is additionally simply a long trip away from home. That means tying up loose ends domestically and at work so things run as smoothly as possible while I’m away and also making time to see friends and family as I won’t get the chance for another 6 months. Add in the hours of physical training each week and spare time is definitely at a premium in the final month!