About the Author, Theresa Drulard: “A natural curiosity about all things has translated into adventurous work and play. So far curiosity has not killed the cat and I get to write about the adventures. I live in the foothills of the Wasatch range with my adventure partner where we are excitedly planning our upcoming BC to Baja trip.”
When my daughter asked me to join her in Patagonia for ten days I immediately said yes. Visiting Patagonia had been on my bucket list for at least 20 years so there was no real decision to be made – at the time. Once I said yes the list of decisions became endlessly long! Researching all the hiking options available I decided to extend my trip for six weeks. This gave me a lot of flexibility but also increased the trip planning logistics. My daughter would handle all the required camping reservations for the “O-circ” in Tierra del Paine for us but I still had my own travel, lodging, packing decisions, gear selection and food planning to do.
I’ve done a few international trips before and even though I don’t enjoy the planning phase, I DO like to make the most of my time. I knew I’d be doing more hiking in Fitz Roy and further north in Patagonia after my daughter left so I focused on getting my gear together. I made a complete gear list for this specific trip. Since I backpack in Utah I already had a lot of items but what works for the high desert isn’t always the best choice for rainy, windy Patagonia. I decided the most critical items were great fitting water-proof shoes, a larger pack and a strong tent – sadly I had to acquire all three!
Next I considered gear weight. While I can handle a heavy pack I still prefer a light pack! My goal was to keep my total carrying weight at 30lbs or less. I added a weight column to my gear list to keep track of each item and began to have fears that I was turning into a gear “geek”. Patagonia blogs, books, and travel guides became my daily reading material and I also interviewed friends and acquaintances that had recently been to Patagonia. Ultimately my gear list had four main categories: clothes, toiletries/first aid, camping gear, and food. Beyond the focus on gear and my itinerary, I started strength training three times a week and enrolled in a Spanish class. Finally, I reviewed all my international travel-related documents and miscellany: passport not expired, no visa needed, no entry fees required (at the moment), international driver’s license required in Argentina only, travel insurance and international cell phone plan arranged. Phew!
The detailed research and planning almost, but not quite, distracted me from the stress and anxiety I always feel prior to a big trip. I’ve done this enough times now to know that for me this is a normal part of big travel and big hikes. Will there be flight snafus? Gear failures? Feet tenderness? Often the answer is “yes” but there are always people willing to help and alternate options available. Learning that these feelings are normal for me and always surmountable helps me to stay excited about the trip. I know that I will stretch myself beyond my physical and mental norms – and be better for it. I will gain confidence as I maneuver the unexpected and do things that I’ve only dreamed I could. I will learn again about the kindness of strangers – who share advice, support and knowledge freely. So instead of letting the stress take over I ready myself for this long-awaited Patagonia hiking adventure, or as Dr. Seuss says:
“You’re off to great places,
Today is your day.
Your mountain is waiting,
So get on your way.”
– Dr. Seuss, in ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go!’