Archive for the ‘Fortitude’Category

The Road to Appalachia, Part 1

I have had a blast starting up Advice and Beans, sourcing products, blogging, marketing, shipping thousands of packages and working 80 or 90 hours a week.  I love finally doing something for myself, and I love that I can help so many others at the same time.  However, some days the noise becomes nearly overwhelming.

To help clear my head, check off a box on the bucket list, and to get to know this great country just a touch better, this fall I am going to spend a week or a little more on the Appalachian Trail.  My plan is to hike 70-90 miles.

While some may not call it preparedness per se, I predict the lessons and learning from accomplishing such a task, will provide value to to those following my progress here as well as in my own life.

I’ll admit planning is not my strongest trait, so I will make a series of posts about my progress on various tasks necessary to accomplish the goal; writing about it holds me accountable and provides a venue for others to provide suggestions and insight, and reminds me of things yet to do.

Initially, my focus will be on 5 sub-goals.

1)  Fitness

2)  Gear

3)  Planning

4)  Logistics

5)  Sustenance

Fitness covers my physical ability to accomplish the task.  Today I am quite a bit overweight and I haven’t hiked in almost a year; my blood pressure is running a little high.  I need to address each of those in the next 6 months.

Gear is what I will take with me.  I estimate I have half or more of the gear I will need.  I have a great pack, an excellent sleeping bag, a Jetboil stove, a Katadyn water filter and some other items.  I have 2 pairs of good boots.  For anything else, I will need to make well-researched choices about what other items will need to be on the trial with me.

Planning will cover a couple of topics.  First, what will my route be on the trail?  How far should I get each day?  What are the normal weather conditions for where I will be, and what are the worst case scenarios?  Who do I need to inform, whether forest services or other law enforcement, of my trail route and expedition times?

At the same time, i will need to plan for what happens when I’m gone.  Who will run the business, ship packages, manage inventory and pay bills?  What will they do if they run into a situation out of the ordinary?  How will they handle customer service issues?

Logistics is just another word for more detailed planning.  Who will take me to my start point?  How will my vehicle make it to my end point?  What day will I leave?  What day should I reach my destination?

Finally, sustenance is the food and water I will need to make the trip.  Can I carry that much with my gear?  Should I set up a drop cache along the way?  Will I boil, use a filter, or use another method to purify drinking water?  This one will be particularly tricky, as I know on a hard hike before I’ve used my entire 5-liter allotment that I generally carry (3 liters in a bladder and 2 more in Nalgene’s) in less than 1 day.

There is also a matter of communication, and this might be a combination of gear and planning.  I’ll take my GPS, but what about a satellite phone or emergency beacon?  I don’t know yet, and so I will have at least one post on just communications and emergencies.

While that is a lot to accomplish, I also have a number of resources.  I have a good friend who is an Eagle Scout who has hiked the Appalachian before, as well as a number of multi-day hikes at state and national parks.  I have trained for a half-marathon, and I might look over my notes and training schedule as a guide to how I might plan for a week-long trip.  There are innumerable blogs, magazines and websites devoted to hiking and camping, and we have an REI store nearby that holds regular monthly meetings on various topics.  On several occasions I’ve seen them cover overnight hiking.

Next post on the subject I will cover preliminary planning.  What dates will I go, at least which state I will hike in, and what the expected conditions on the ground should be at that time.  I am greatly looking forward to sharing my journey.


02 2011

Chilean Mine Disaster

The ongoing Chilean Mine Disaster presents us with a first-hand look at some ways to stay sane and functional during an almost impossible circumstance.  First, work at keeping your spirits up.  2nd, keep focused and develop a plan.  And finally, develop a schedule that presents a sense of normalcy.


08 2010

Fortitude – Preparedness Foundational Element 2

One definition of fortitude is:  ‘The quality of mind enabling one to face danger or hardship resolutely.’  As I read more about various people’s definitions and examples, I am becoming convinced that my initial separation of fortitude into ‘physical and mental’ aspects is incorrect and redundant. 

A strong and fit body, while obviously a benefit, does not automatically guarantee ‘physical fortitude’, just as intelligence and knowledge does not necessarily confer ‘mental fortitude’.  In high school I was a good long-distance runner, very fit, with the potential to be great.  However, my lack of fortitude, mainly the inability to push through the pain that is the ‘wall’ that runners talk about, meant that I never posted more than average times.

Eighteen years later, I completed the Music City Half Marathon.  15 of those intervening years I smoked like a chimney and otherwise dragged my body down.  There is little chance I will ever be as fit as I was when I was younger, and I’ll certainly never be as fast, but the me of 18 years ago could not (or would not) have jogged 13.1 miles.  The difference between then and now?  Fortitude.  I made a choice, every day for the 5 months I trained, to not do the easy thing.  Rain or shine, 1 mile became 2, and 2 become 4.  And somewhere, unbelievably, 11 became 13.  I told myself over and over I would not quit.  Even to this day I smile when I realize I didn’t.

Sure, my story isn’t anything when compared to examples of fortitude above and beyond my comprehension, but at least it helps me to understand.  For example, consider Aron Ralston, a mountaineer who amputated one of his arms below the elbow in order to survive, and then proceeded to rappel down the side of a mountain and hike 7 miles until he found help.  However, when you look at his resume, such as having climbed 49 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot-plus mountains, as well as being an avid outdoorsman, it leads me to understand that fortitude can be developed by the life we lead.

Most of America works so they can lead the easiest life possible, filled with whatever luxuries they can afford.  Where we can, we rely on others to provide us with every want and need.   Many expect the government, or our parents, or our spouse, to take care of us, to provide us food, or health care, or housing.  I believe that attitude is killing us as individuals, as communities, and as a society.

However, just by being here and taking the first baby steps of preparing, we are taking back that responsibility for our own survival.  Self-sufficiency is the medicine to cure us from the toxins of our fast-food convenience store society.  I’ve made a choice, and I hope you will too.  Every day, let us choose to do something hard, something challenging, something that will work our muscles or our minds.  Let us choose to be a different.


05 2010

So What is Prepping?

So what is a basic definition of prepping?

A basic definition of prepping is ‘Gaining the skills, supplies, and mental and physical fortitude to be prepared for any circumstance.’ While it is likely impossible to be prepared for ‘any’ circumstance, such as the moon careening out of orbit or a large asteroid strike a la Armageddon, that is the goal we shoot for. 

When I discuss being prepared, I don’t just mean in terms of a major disaster, but also each little emergency in our lives. For example, can you change a flat or jumpstart your car? Do you know how to safely deal with a wasp’s nest underneath your porch? How to safely put out a stove fire?

So while yes, we’ll talk about being able to deal with a power outage lasting 30 days on our own store of supplies, being a prepper means being self-sufficient wherever we can. I’ll be straight up with y’all.  For most of my life, I was a chain-smoking, video-game playing, indoor-dwelling, TV-watching sloth. My opinion of a trip outside was running to the convenience store for more Amberbock. My method of changing a tire or jump-starting my car was calling AAA.

However, somewhere along the line about 7 years ago, I started controlling the elements of my life, instead of having them control me. I quit smoking cold turkey, and I was smoking 3 packs a day. I got out of debt, even though I was only making a very average wage. I started to get back into shape after having abused my body with smokes and alcohol for many years.

So please believe me when I say anyone can do this, and needs to!  My family were laughing at me recently as I struggled to dig a trench for my wife’s tomato plants.  I was actually a little hurt, but to be honest they were right to laugh.  They have never known me as anything other than a couch-dwelling, coffee-swilling layabout. 

So digging ditches was not something I had ever done before…but guess what?  It is now. I’ve learned quite a bit about good technique and not so good technique.  And as a side benefit, because so much of what I dug up was rock, I decided to kill two birds and use the rock to help with a grade I am going to build up under my porch.

If something needs to be done around my house, it is my responsibility to do it, especially if it doesn’t require specialized skills (and sometimes even if it does).  The reason I started Advice and Beans is because I believe it is time for every person to make self-sufficiency part of our lives, and to not expect others to do for us what we can do for ourselves. 

If we make it a habit to try to resolve any situation prior to calling in the cavalry, eventually we’ll find that most of us can do many tasks we used to rely on others for.  That ability to function consistently without outside assistance will help in the most critical times, because we will have conditioned ourselves to act, not react

So What’s Next?

Our next 3 posts will cover the individual components of prepping:  skills, supplies and fortitude.


05 2010