What is the most important quality for someone who aspires to complete a multi-day hike in a challenging place like the Bogong High Plains?
It’s a good question, with many potential answers. All are legitimate contenders for the title.
Fitness is obviously high on the list. Quite rightly, much of our energy is focused on the physical preparation which our hike demands. We train regularly, for many months, in order to equip ourselves. As we become fitter and stronger, our confidence increases. Self-belief – an important quality in itself – rises accordingly.
Light weight camping and hiking demands good organisational skills, particularly in an environment like the High Plains. Even in the lead up, we need to be well equipped, having sourced appropriate gear which suits our purposes. This involves research and knowledge as well as the time commitment involved in putting a kit together. There is a need to load packs appropriately and operate efficiently on the trail and in camp.
Our hikes are built firmly on the foundation of teamwork. Being a team player is extremely important. Operating in isolation simply doesn’t work. Even if it did, the participant would miss the rewards of being part of a team.
High Plains hikers need to be resilient. Clearly, this applies in a physical sense. But it doesn’t hurt to have a thick skin either. Sometimes, amongst a group of mature men, things need to be said (in love) in order to get the best outcome. Then there are the obstacles. Last time around showed us clearly that things don’t always go to plan. This time, so far, we seem to be tracking well. But brace yourself! Challenges will come; if not in the lead up, then almost certainly on the hike itself. It is important to persevere through the tough times, seeking help as needed.
I could go on and on … but let’s get back to the original question. Which of these qualities is most important?
This may come as something of a surprise and will no doubt spark serious debate. But in the opinion of this hiker, the number one requirement comes from outside this list. I believe the most important quality for someone embarking on a hike such as ours is humility.
I have spent a lot of time over many years on the Bogong High Plains. If I have learnt one thing it is this – NEVER, EVER underestimate the demands of this environment. We are undertaking a challenging task. Go to any website detailing the High Plains and you will find three common themes – notoriously unpredictable weather, challenging terrain and the need to be well prepared. The high country is spectacular and beautiful. Our hike will be an amazingly rewarding experience. But this place must be respected.
Those of us who have been before face the threat of complacency. Do not assume that the next experience will be the same as your last. All of us would do well to clothe ourselves with humility (Colossians 3:12). Never think you’re on top of it. Don’t start telling yourself you’ve done enough or you’ll do it later. There is always more to learn, more to give and more to share. Seek advice. Be honest about your challenges. Expect to be tested, but do not fear the process. Be confident but not arrogant. Pray for each other. Offer support where you can.
This is why being part of a team is such a rewarding experience. That which, individually, we might find quite daunting becomes so much more achievable in the company of others.
Some thoughts to chew on, eh! I hope posts such as this might promote some further interesting discussion. Stay tuned for next month’s blog – 5 things to consider doing before the hike.