Exuberance in “harsh” environments
This is going to be a temporary and maybe half-finished blog post since I didn’t attend the week 10 Hovden trip due to sickness 🙁
I’ve been on 2 winter trips.
1st trip to Hovden, living in huts and skiing every day. The 2nd trip to Evje, skiing to our camp and sleeping in tents.
The information given prior to the trips was in my opinion limited.
This meant that my head wasn’t very occupied with following specific protocols and tasks which lead to a more exuberating trip.
I guess you could say that with having very little pre-conceptions about something leads to less fixated and more relaxed mind. Of course, we did have the necessary information about winter camping and skiing to be able to survive and have a good trip. We just didn’t have too much, so that it would dominate our trip.
With this approach of experimental learning, we had to figure out by ourselves what we could do in order to exuberate in these kinds of harsh environments. Figuring these things out yourself, I would say, is frustrating when things don’t work out, which in some cases, lead to negative behaviors and conflicts withing the group. However when the problems were solved, it lead to very satisfying feelings and helped develop our team and group in a more positive and understanding way. One more benefit of this way of learning was that when tasks and problems we’re solved without an already given answer it created more confidence in our own abilities.
The very first challenge for me was to keep warm!
During the trip to Hovden I kept relatively warm.
I experienced how tying my shoes to much would result in cold feet, though more control over the skies. I experienced how movement is closely connected to body temperature.
I was shocked when hadn’t been moving for 3-5 hours. My body felt very cold, and I experienced the importance of clothing not only for the weather conditions, but also for the activity.
It also brought joy because it meant that if I were to feel cold, I would be able to regain my heat by moving.
Moving a lot comes at a cost though.
Obviously, it requires energy, and when the body already uses more energy than usual (too keep warm). It means that our energy intake should increase substantially.
Coming into the winter trips I had a very romantic conception of how our food intake would look like. I would imagine a very nutritious vegetable-rich, whole grain non sugar diet that would support me with great energy and all the vitamins that I needed. I quickly realized that it would be very hard to reach the needed energy intake with such principles. Furthermore, I experienced how the cold weather affects my hunger and thirst, meaning that I would need some food with high energy density.
I experienced that cooking outdoors at low temperatures is not very pleasant. Cutting vegetables and preparing food is difficult with big gloves, and by taking them off I would freeze my fingers very quickly.
Therefore, I began to surrender to these freeze-dried dishes, that would only need boiling water added to them. By doing this I would get a nutritious meal very easily. It would still be very enjoyable and the feeling of sharing a meal with your friends are still present in this kind of setting. Other than that, I prepared energy bars containing coconut oil, oats, nuts, chocolate, dried fruit. This provides me with sustained energy.
Our team is a very mixed bunch. We have people from various backgrounds and with different interests. This means that during our trips we have individual agendas.
This also means that we can learn a lot from each other.
For example, one of my great interests on the winter trips was to be able to start a fire. First, this meant that through my interest I would contribute with something. It also meant that I had some knowledge that I could share with the other students.
The rest of the team would have other interests and skills, meaning that as a team we would have lots of different contributions and possibilities of evolving.
During the trips I experienced how the mind could work in my benefit, but also the other way around.
For example, if situations would get uncomfortable, cold, exhausting or there would tension in the group, it would be very easy for the mind to dive into this state.
In that case things would just get worse, and the trip would be turned into a more survival orientated trip.
An approach that I found nice in these situations was just to try to let go of all that stuff, and just accept that whatever was going on, was fine. I experienced a more relaxed attitude and a much greater appreciation of the circumstances, surroundings and basically everything.