Last week I returned from a trek in the country of Nepal. An unusual adventure for me, but one that seems to be symbolic of the transformation that has been happening in my life over the last 2.5 years. A close friend of mine had ventured to climb to Everest Base Camp last year. I was amazed at all of the adventures she experiences, and longed to experience the same thrill and devotion for such an adventure, and she believed that I could do it. This was going to be big for me, something that I had never considered doing, something new and highly unusual. After much back and forth, we decided to do the Annapurna Base Camp trek. Nine days in the Himalayas climbing a mountain. Wow, yes, me.
The preparation work to take on such an adventure was complicated and deeply involved. Not only did I have to work on the physical aspects of training and preparing for such a daunting challenge, I also needed to buy climbing gear; basically everything for the trip. I had never done something like this in my life! A very new view of life for me... I had to buy clothing, shoes, coats, socks, and figure out how to layer clothing, and decide what was important. “What can I wear for 10 days” and “how would I cycle through those clothes”, what can I wear over and over and layer against the cold? Decide what is absolutely needed (no room for extras in a backpack that you're living out of for 9 days with no laundry service! ) I had to make sure there was room for water bottles and water purification systems. Protein bars and snacks and toilet paper (yep, the real necessities). I had to figure out to pack it all, how much can I do without...what is the bare minimum to still be comfortable?
It's a lot like preparing for a new part of your life. Marriage, childbirth, parenting, and retirement. You've never done it before. What do you absolutely need? What can you do without in order to make certain that the experience is satisfying? What can you do to prepare appropriately so that you are safe and comfortable? It's important to take a thorough look at the phases of life early on, and prepare. It's hard to do it on the spot; way easier to do it with a significant amount of time to prepare.
My trek was successful. I mean, I did it. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I will never be the same after that experience. It was painful and beautiful at the same time. Unfortunately, I wasn't truly prepared for what came my way and I am now (two weeks out) stills feeling pain in my knees and hips from the brutal hours of climbing stairs and rocks.
I suppose the lesson I learned and want to share is that you must prepare. And, in order to prepare properly, you may need the help of someone who has done it before or is an expert in the field. Don't hesitate to ask for help when preparing for the unknown. If you get there and are ill prepared, you will definitely feel the pain for a long, long time. Who goes into any situation wanting that?