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Explore Life Coaching, Patti Phillips

The Big Walk

Recently, I met with a group of women interested in doing an overnight backpacking hike in the wilds of Manitoba. The “wilds of Manitoba” may seem like an oxymoron, but for a team of women who have never camped in the backcountry (some of whom haven’t slept in a tent since childhood) it’s an accurate description. There are bears, there are bugs, there is poison ivy, there is water to cross, there are ankle-spraining rocks, and there are ways to get lost without much effort.

My first challenge, as a coach, was to get this team to understand the reality of this challenge. Everything a person needs to live in the backcountry has to be carried in a backpack. The goal, then, is to minimize the weight without compromising comfort and safety. Therefore, having a meal of steak, baked potatoes, and wine is possible, but not without some sacrifice. The tent and sleeping pad would probably have to go. With that being understand, there were still some negotiations going on regarding who will carry the potatoes…including some talk of recruiting a Potato Sherpa.

The team came up with some great ideas for weight saving. They came to the agreement that one butane powered curling iron could be shared instead of each person bringing one. There is now a rule that make-up will only be applied at the start of the hike and a pact was made that if you see mascara smudged on your  team-mate, you have to let them know immediately. They practiced spooning with two people on one sleeping pad…can they fit four people on two sleeping pads in one tent? Imagine the weight and space that would save? That steak and wine is becoming more possible!

The toilet talk is what almost scared a few folks away. The discussion started with a question of whether the outhouses would be supplied with toilet paper. When I pulled out the shovel and a plastic bag for carrying out the used toilet paper and proclaimed “this is the bathroom”, mouths dropped open in disbelief. They thought I was joking… I wasn’t.

But with all that, no one left the meeting. All are willing to move ahead with the challenge. We still have much preparation to do. Break in the new hiking boots, acquire the required gear without taking out a line of credit, fitting the backpack to make it the least uncomfortable (I don’t think it’s ever comfortable), and practicing hitting that tiny hole from a squatting position. Oh yeah; and finding the Potato Sherpa.

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