Saturday, 23 March 2013

A day in the life of a trek leader - with Sarah Blann

Sarah Blann (PM Alpha 7) tells us about life as an Adventure Trek Leader.

Sarah in the jungle

I'm woken up by the delicate bellows of the day leader (each day a venturer volunteers to lead the group and manage the daily tasks and time keeping), it's still dark.  Before climbing out of my cozy basha I get dressed inside my mozzie net.  The days clothes have been carefully kept dry in the sleeping bag overnight.  I emerge from my mozzie net and slip into my soggy sandals and pad over to the long drop for my morning wee.

One of the Raleigh trek camps

The fire, prepared by the venturers, is already blazing (in the later part of the trek, venturers take control and trek leaders can relax into the day knowing everything is taken care of).  Hearing the venturers questioning if chores had been done


  • are the jerry cans full?
  • when will the water be ready to drink?
  • are the 3 bowls ready to use?
  • are the mess tins clean and can we eat?
We thought we'd reached the point where things run smoothly, but often a gentle nagging reminder is required.

Eline setting up camp
But, fire-starting was mastered and optimum level of water required in kettle was reached.  We would breakfast on porridge.  I thought I'd got my porridge making down to a fine art - carefully tipping in my handful of raisins (shake don't take).  I soon realised oat flakes were immensely more enjoyable mixed with the syrup from the tinned pears.

We finish packing up the camp, it was good to see the improvement in the methodical approach to taking down camp and utter delight at un-doing knots in one gentle tug.  Everything packed away in it's specific dry bag,  fire dried socks into mud encrusted boots, application of DEET, shorts chosen over long trousers so leeches could be detected, rolled and flicked away.  

Before we leave we have a quick stretch/exercise to get warmed up and energised, led by the day leader then we buddy up, load on our back packs, strap on the group kit ready for the last checks.

Pre-trek warm up

  • Long-drop filled in - YES!
  • Slops pit filled in - YES!
  • Poo paper bag burnt - YES!
And we're off...

Along the way calls for breaks and snacks interrupt the pace of trek, quite often only 10 minutes after leaving.  How long are we trekking for?  Are we crossing any rivers?

River crossing
We safely make our way through what can only be described as a mine field of hazards, each step carefully chosen to avoid mud slips, roots, rocks, tree trunks etc  We quickly start games to help us along our way, particular favourites are listing A-Z's (football teams, sports personalities, actors and actresses) and lots and lots of singing.

Eventually we arrive at camp despite trips and slips, leech rolls and flicks, aches and pains, difficult terrains.

Then we spring into action.  Despite the hunger, despite the rain.  Most days it would rain from around 4 in the afternoon so we want to arrive and set up camp before the rain came.
  • Group tarp up
  • Firewood collecting
  • Put up radio and let field base know we have arrived
  • Identify safe place to access river
  • Fill up jerry cans (wait 30 minutes for the water to be ready)
  • Who has lunch and what is it - crackers, cheese, tuna, sandwich spread
  • Hammocks and tarps up ready for sleeping
  • Long drop dug, slops pits dug, AWAS tape up
  • Mess tins and cutlery 3 bowled and ready to eat
  • Fire started, collect more wood
During the trek the PM roles changed from initially overseeing the camp set up then putting our personal basha's up to letting them take the lead and get on with it, managing camp set up themselves.


PM Fred expertly put up basha
Once the chores are complete it's time to swim and wash in the river (if we have found a safe place).  We check out the days bumps, lumps, bites and scratches. At 6 O'clock its longs O'clock, we get into our long trousers and long sleeved tops (to keep the evening mosquitos from biting).  It's nice to see everyone getting into their routine, finding the bamboo for their hammocks and testing it out for strength. Chef's start to prepare our evening meal, then we are called to dinner.   After 3 bowling we sit down to fine dining Raleigh sytle.  Black pepper beef with rice and tinned peas is a particular favourite.  Then it's kettle on for the Milo and yarn around the camp fire before we depart for bed.  One last thing to do before sleep, inspecting feet.  Climbing into my basha I sit sideways on the hammock and wash them over the sides, then dry and talc.  Head torch off!  Into the mozzie net and get tucked in, making sure the mozzie net is tight under the roll mat.  Head torch back on for final leech inspection as you don't want any unexpected friends in the night. 

Sarah
Then head torch off and all you have is the sound of the jungle which is quite spectacular, and masks my tinnitus!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

To Eline Sistermans - Alpha 2

Eline!
Superleuk dat je dit project hebt nu! Zal vast veel chiller zijn dan trek :). Ben heel benieuwd hoe jullie het allemaal hebben. Mis jullie wel hoor! En de zon haha, het is hier zo koud! Ben nu veel aan het werk en te veel naar feestjes aan het gaan haha. Mijn dagen in KK waren heel chil, lekker douchen, slapen, shoppen, dat soort dingen.
Geniet daar!
Liefs, Carlijn

Anonymous said...

To Emily Kelly - Alpha 1

Emily!
Waaaaaah kindergarten! You're so lucky and probably so happy!! I miss alpha 8 and the malaysian sun. It's so cold in Holland! Hope I'm not embarrassing you right now, with an even bigger pile of blog messages hihi. Hope you are having an amazing time, enjoy!
Love, Carlijn

Anonymous said...

To Daan van Doormaal - Alpha 3

Daan!
Jeeeeej community! Wat chil :). Hoop dat je het onwijs naar je zin hebt en dat het eten iets beter is dan tijdens de trek haha. Ik heb inmiddels al een heleboel filet americain gegeten haha. Mijn dagen in KK waren heel chil, vooral veel geslapen, gedoucht en op de markt gegeten! Nu veel aan het werk en vooral veel feestjes pakken :). Geniet daar! Maar dat ben je vast aan het doen.
Liefs, Carlijn

Anonymous said...

To Josefien Nijholt - Alpha 6

Hee joos!
Jij hebt gewoon de perfecte volgorde! Community-environmental- trek. Hoop dat je je een beetje vermaakt tussen de vogels en kevers hihi. Ik heb onwijs genoten van mijn mini vakantie in KK en ben nu veel aan het werk en veel feestjes aan het pakken. het is ijs en ijs koud, mis de zon enorm! Hoop dat je aan het genieten bent! Veel plezier daar nog!
Liefs, Carlijn

Anonymous said...

To Louis Coster and Liselot Bekendam - Alpha 8

Hi jongens!
allereerst ben ik jou volgens mij vergeten dag te zeggen, Louis! Heel dom van me, maar moest ook nogal gehaast weg. Hoop dat jullie de trek niet al te zwaar vonden. Als jullie dit lezen zijn jullie waarschijnlijk in het hostel en gaan jullie vanavond op de markt eten, zo chil is dat! Heb ik ook heel vaak gegeten toen ik in KK was. Ik ben nu aan het werk en veel feestjes aan het pakken. Ik mis jullie allemaal wel! Het is nog echt winter hier, dus geniet van de zon daar. Enjoy guys!
Liefs, Carlijn
ps. groetjes aan Chris van mij :)

caroline van ravels said...

to emma van ravels alpha 3
Emsel!!!!!!!!!! Alweer een blogstukje over jouw vorige groep tijdens de trek!! Door Sarah geschreven. Zo gaaf om te lezen hoe jullie dagritme eruit zag! Heb je weer op 2 foto's gespot!! Bij de ochtendgym en oversteek van een rivier! Het moet toch niet veel gekker worden. Op hoeveelheid foto's heb je zéker al van Loek gewonnen!! Je zult het niet geloven, maar het is nu 23 maart (verjaardag van opa Frans) en er komt alwéér sneeuw uit de lucht. De kou houdt maar niet op hier. Vandaag gure oosterwind met gevoelstemperatuur van min 15!! Is wat anders dan bij jou!! Ik heb weer een brief gepost en weet niet goed meer wat ik allemaal al geschreven heb! Misschien krijg je dus wel dubbele info. Gisteren hebben wij een etentje gehad bij emily en heleen in amsterdam, samen met ouders van helene. Het was heeeeeel gezellig. Ook had ik overdag museumdag in Amsterdam. Daar trof ik iemand waarvan de dochter dit jaar is begonnen op de hotelschool! Zij heeft allemaal info voor jou. Ik heb haar emailadres gekregen. Weer handig voor jouw sollicitatie daar!! Als ik het goed gelezen heb, hebben jullie de wereld waterdag gevierd en krijgen we daar ook nog een blog en foto's van!! Heb het idee dat wij dit jaar echt veel meer informatie krijgen als toen met Loek. Ik zit aan de computer gekluisterd en open de site iedere keer weer om wat nieuws te ontdekken!! Echt heel leuk. Nou lieve schat , veel plezier maar weer en tot op het volgende blog!!
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx ook liefs van iedereen hier. xxx mama

Jane Wodcke said...

Hi Mitch
Hope all is going well. Have written you a letter but am worried that you won't get it by changeover! So just to let you know you have unconditional offers for both the Sunderland courses so that is all of them now except for the interview in Sheffield. You can change your flight for £110 plus any difference in the flight cost. But you need to think about that interview and how you are going to make a choice by the deadline. You also need visas to visit some countries e.g. China, Anyway we can talk about it when you are back at base camp. Hope you are having a great time still, we all miss you but are glad things are going well. Take care, Mum x

For Mitchell Wodcke Alpha 2

Anonymous said...

For Rosie Rich; Alpha 8

Hey Rosie,
Have been checking out the older blogs from the trekking and diving phases as, not surprisingly, there has been no update on your group since phase 2 allocations. You must be coming to/at the end of the trek part by now; it looks like a whole lot of type 2 fun to me and must be hard work while you are trekking in that climate but everyone seems to enjoy getting back to Long Pasia as one of the highlights of the trip. And then you get to enjoy the Fillipino market before heading out to dive island and learning to dive and plant coral for the week! Awesome!!
Hope some of my mail has got through; strange to think that the deadline to post stuff out is now only just over a week away. Weather still rubbish back here with snow/flooding/power failures over various bits of the country. Snowing like billyo here; my boots and ski jacket have never seen so much action over a winter! British Summer Time clock changeover takes place next weekend but you could have fooled me. Safety boat training at the club has been cancelled for tomorrow morning because there would be a real risk of hypothermia; so make the most of it out there! Fingers crossed it will be warmer by the time you get back.
Take care, enjoy the diving; all those hours in the pool should pay off! Easter egg almost literally 'on ice' for you ATM.
Lots of love, Dad :) xx

Anonymous said...

Message for Sam Griffin Beat

\hello my darling boy,
well we arrived in UK an on the radio in the cab from heathrow they said its going to be the coldest weekend in march in recorded history well u can imagine!!!!! i nearly died got to the house and it was a tip, spent the day cleaning a bedroom so we could sleep. there is a 10cm layer of dust on everything its horrible, we went to nana and dada for supper had fish an chips it was soooo good. slept like dead people after traveling for 20 hours. spent today, saturday cleaning and tidying and getting uk sim cards, now call me on 00447511099940 pls thats the number i have while here.got up this morning to 5cm of snow and its not stopped all dam day, it is perishingly cold!!!!!! im dying going to nanas again tonite for a curry xxx thinking of you all the time, hope u are well and looking after yourself, cant wait to speak to you all my very very special love my darling from marmases xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

For Emily Kelly
Hi Emily, hope you've settled back into your project and having a wonderful time doing your favourite thing - building. No, not really, being with children and enjoying their company and hopefully yours. Not much happening at mo. Samuel had a concert last night where the 3 saxophones had to stand up in one piece whist playing - not to keen on that as you can imagine. Nanny is coming on Tuesday for Easter so she will be able to catch up on the all the updates which will probsbly take her most of the holiday. Will be hurtling around roundabouts with Alice when she goes out driving later. Thank goodness Granny only has a top speed of 35! Keep well and have lots of fun, love mum xxxx

do-it-yourself Mum said...

For Max Sheldon Alpha 7 Phase 2
Hi Max.Dad and I have been reading the latest blog from your Project Manager Sarah. There's a great picture of you doing what looks like a yoga "salute to the sun". Is that how we're all going to be starting the day when you get back? That and eating porridge every morning, singing while we work and drinking Milo in the evenings around the fire. Actually it sounds pretty good.
As forescast, it's been snowing here. And what happens in this family when it snows? Yes, Ellie cuts her paw which she did right on cue today. That big roll of gaffer tape that you left behind has come in handy yet again as waterproofing for her bandage. Luckily no stitches this time and it should all come off on Wednesday. As you can imagine, she's feeling a bit sorry for herself but she's fine. Stupid, but fine.
Dad and I have been painting today. Yes, I know, it's very unusual for me to pick up a paintbrush and we're doing the hall so your bedroom is safe. For the time being at least.
I'm guessing that Yasemin isn't exactly enjoying the weather at the moment so I'm hoping to persuade her out for lunch this week. It's Easter at the end of it and I think it's going to be a cold one. Happily you look as if you're having some sunny weather
which must be a relief after all that rain at Imbak Canyon.
Your trek sounds extraordinarily special. I think it'll be a bit like Dad and the Pennine Way and an experience you will never ever forget. Enjoy all of it.
Thinking of you, talking about you and of course still loving you. Mum, Dad, Ellie (and her bandage), Angus, Jess, Daphne, Maisie, Lotty, Lettie and Margot.xxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

alpha 7 to:Beerend Salomons
Lieve avonturier, wat een leuk verhaal van Sarah Blann. Jullie maken wel wat mee, insecten,muggen,veel regen , vullen van jerry cans , ontbijten met porridge mmmm
Super stoer ben zo benieuwd naar alle verhalen straks. Schrijf je aals op? Oma komt morgen weer uit het ziekenhuis met een pacemaker, dus die kan nu 100 worden.A.s weekend hebben we Pasen , Duco en Esmee komen thuis en oma met Lout en Joanne komen eten.Max zit met Tim in Kopenhagen en deux. Hier nog steeds bere-koud, absurd gewoon. Papa heeft het te gaaf, hoewel hij vandaag een rest day had vanwege lawine gevaar, te warm.
Blijf je volgen en blijf genieten. Big hug en miss you kus xxx Mam