Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Monday, August 29, 2016

Thoughts on technology in wilderness travel

My recent headlamp failure gave me an important "lessons learned" experience. I don't presently have a flashlight app on my smartphone. No reason, really, apart from procrastination. I used to have one, but I must have erased it sometime. Or perhaps I never had it. I get forgetful at times, which is irritating but usually not fatal. To hike out on the Border Track in the pitch black I used the "settings" screen, because it has the whitest background. I keep refreshing the screen by tapping it, because it's on a screen saving timer. In the pitch black I wasn't about to dig through my backpack to find my glasses and change the timeout settings on my phone, I can imagine there are some nerdy types who are so familiar with their phone that they would do this. That's not me. I was stressed out, being alone on an unfamiliar trail. I kept telling myself to stop panicking. There was nothing in the bush to hurt me. In August it's too cold for any snakes or large lizards to be out. The only thing observing me in the dark were the local birds, or a wallaby or two, which tend to be nocturnal. That, paradoxically, was reassuring. My being caught by darkness was a good lesson. The flashlight app will be downloaded, and I'll update my standard packing list to include spare batteries and a 2nd light. When you backpack, you have to minimise weight. But some things give you a kick in the pants, and you learn. In 2012 I had a serious accident in New Zealand, which involved a broken ankle and a very exciting helicopter airlift off the Cape Brett Peninsula. That event impacted my life ever since in many unexpected, often unwelcome ways. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger I suppose.

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