Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Making of a Raleigh trekker

By Barry McFarlane

A unique part of the Raleigh expedition is the trek.  It acts as a balance to the community and conservation work undertaken through the other phases.  Described as the reward, it is often the most challenging part, pushing the teams well outside their comfort zone.

It’s not simply the physical task of getting from A to B and learning new skills.  Trekking is about getting the team from A to Z AND through the many physical, emotional and mental challenges presented along the way.  As the adventure project manager on the first phase it fell to me as part of a PM team to lead the trek-dive-trek phase through the trials and tribulations of Alpha 9.  The simple task of trekking is complicated slightly by the need to not just get yourself and your kit through the seemingly impenetrable jungle but also an intimidating mountain of group kit.

The advice to the Venturers on personal kit is to take as little as possible; “two sets of clothes and keep your sleeping bag dry”.  One set of clothes for day time, trekking and one set of longs for the evenings.  Yes that’s all! You will be putting on your dirty wet trekking clothes every day, and your one pair of longs will protect you from nasty bugs in the evening.

Becoming a Raleigh trekker is all about working as a team. Collectively you need to distribute days of food, radio equipment, emergency kit, group tarps, etc.  The varying experience, fitness and strengths of the individuals in the group mean that this task requires some soul searching and often takes days to get right.
Whilst the Venturers largely have the right kit, it tends to be very shiny and very new.  Walking boots and rucksacks whose short pre-jungle life with their new owners has been the inside of a plane. Shoulders that have only carried a school bag and feet that have only seen converse and shopping malls find out what they can actually do.

The 'original' Alpha 9 in phase 1
To give the Venturers an idea of what is in store for them physically I describe how the body goes through a couple of stages that can last varying amounts of time.  The first day, when the shiny hiking boots first hit the trail and all 90 litres of rucksack are loaded, is a shock.  Having never experienced anything like it, the trekking is slow, the hills are torturous, and the leeches soon become a nuisance not a nightmare.  The body copes because it’s a one off.  The second and third days are hard.  The mornings despite the group stretching are slow and stiff, backs are sore, feet are unhappy and you smell.  However, by day four your body accepts the new reality and you start to enjoy yourself.

The reward for all this suffering and endurance is the satisfaction of visiting a part of the world virtually inaccessible to most.  We trekked to fantastic views, saw amazing sunrises and wonderful sunsets.  Arriving at camp each day you build your basha to sleep in (constructed from a hammock and tarp that you have been carrying), set up the group area, start thinking about food (although you never stop) and report your status to Fieldbase.  You then look around at 12 faces that have all shared the same journey and hopefully have found a river to soak in and release the aches and pains. Without fail this part of the day results in laughter and relief.


Anonymous said...

Lieve Daan, fijn om te horen dat het zo goed met je gaat en dat je een leuk project hebt afgerond. Jasmijn vertrekt 12 April naar frankrijk met de bus. Ze heeft er zin in. Woutertje blijft een stoutertje maar gaat op dit moment redelijk goed. We gaan morgen voor je uitzoeken of je langer kan blijven. Pappa belt jou morgenavond hierover en ik zal het vliegveld bellen. Je krijgt een lieve poot van Snoetje en ook van Minous een dikke knuffel.Ik ben benieuwd welk project je volgende week gaat doen. Dikke kus, mamma

Anonymous said...

To Liselot Bekendam
Hey Lies, vanochtend hebben we je aan de telefoon gesproken .Mams vond dat natuurlijk heerlijk en je klonk erg enthousiast. Duikdiploma gehaald en echt lekker bruin geworden op dat ' bounty' eiland!! Dat iets meer relaxen mocht ook wel na de zware trek, ben benieuwd naar de foto's van je blauwe opgezwollen enkel. We vinden je wel echt een toppertje hoor!!! Opa is met Git niet met Pasen naarNinane gegaan omdat het daar sneeuwt.... Kan jij je vast niet voorstellen!!
Ik hen net weer geholpen met het rollen van de epilepsiepatienten van SEIN van en naar de kerk. Je weet precies wat ik bedoel hè? Ach, de een is hier goed in en de ander ergens ander in. Ik zou het niet uithouden met bloedzuigers over mijn hele lijf in een jungle 's nachts met allerlei geluiden die ik niet thuis kan brengen. Ik heb je nog niet gehoord over aapjes, maar ik ga er vanuit dat je er toch al een aantal hebt gezien. Straks heerlijk saampjes al je foto's bekijken, super!!
Door de vorst en de sneeuw zijn de buiten tennisbanen nog steeds niet open en volgende week begint de competitie al. Moet moeders alweer op het slappe koord....wel ben ik veel aan het hardlopen, wie wet nog een half marathonnetje samen?
Ik wens je super veel plezier met je community project, welke het ook wordt. Oh ja, ook nog met Floor Selms gesproken want we wisten een aantal zaken bij jouw formulier voor de hotelschool niet. Het is nu opgestuurd en binnen 2 weken horen we of je op selectiegesprek mag. Duimen dus!!
Wij gaan lekker borrelen, Wil zat al op de gele bank met zijn laptop, je kunt het je voorstellen ?, en de chips , worstjes en nootjes plus natuurlijk een biertje komen tevoorschijn. Lieverd heel veel kusjes, tot over 3 weken, Mams

Katherine Sturt-Scobie said...

For Sarah Greener, Alpha 9


I think this is the most recent alpha 9 post... not really sure, i posted on the old one too soooo repeat;

I misssss youuuu!!!!! Easter is so boring without you and we have to catch up when you're back!!!!!!!*sob*

I see Ben's been commenting :) not sure if you're getting these though?????? :/ oh well, I'll have proof I didn't forget you when you get back! Which probably isn't great for any current feelings of abandonment :D

OH WELL :) <3

Not much has gone down here! Exams are coming up so as usually I am as far away from cracking down as possible! :D Tigger is being a pain in the derriere and jumping on the keyboard! I swear if he deletes this and I have to start writing again I may have to kill him... (say noooothing :D )

It's very grey and drizzly here, so I am very jealous of your particularly sunny blog photos! I ate an entire bowl of chocolate fondue with strawberries earlier... ya... I'm that cool... making all you jealous! :P

Also, I concur with Ben, very impressive facial hair!!! :D MYAH

Congrats on your offer from Keale!!!!! :) Tis awesome! Even more awesome if that is how you spell Keale?

I've been having some lovely chats with your mum ;) yeah, you saw what I did there, mostly about you! ... mostly ;)

I made cookies too.... and found an old recipe for garlic mushrooms! OH THE MEMORIES :'(

I'm gonna go watch psych now and be bored! SO BORED, NOT EVEN JOKING!

Also heard you were bitten by two leeches! Or bitten twice by the same leach... who knows! AND you got a foot infection from wet socks! Ew! :P joking! KEEP YA SOCKS DRY WOMAN!

remember to take the photos of PU!!!!!!!!!! :D


Wifey the great!



The awesome one

Katherine Laura Sturt-Scobie the 1st


Anonymous said...

Hi Naveed (Alpha five)

How are you getting on? YOu must be coming to the end of phase 2 this week and soon you will start phase 3. I hope you have been enjoying so far.

Today was the football tournament and it was held in West London Academy and AK and Khaleel took part and so did Lazeen and Omar but it was ver cold and your dad and I went to watch them play quite late at about 11.30 and we left there at 2.45 and I was really cold.

We all miss you a lot. I hope you are having a good easter. Dad said he hopes you are doing ok as well. Will write to you again soon. Tc

Lots of love
Dad mum and AK

Elaine said...

to Fiona Bell alpha 3
Hi Fiona
Thought you might be at base camp this weekend so would maybe receive your messages a bit faster.
I have had a fairly busy Easter weekend. On Friday I went to Aberdeen to see the Aberdonians and collect Stuart and Lauren. They are back for just 1 week as Stuart assures me he has lots of Uni work to get done before the end of the Easter holidays. He has to pass ALL of his next set of exams to be allowed into 3rd year so hopefully that will give him some focus! Yesterday met auntie Erleen, Kieran, Meghan and Millie at the beach. The dogs were racing about on the sand and in and out of the water. They were exhausted by the end and Bonnie slept all the way back to Kilmacolm. She needs a bath!
Today Dad, Bonnie and I went to Edinburgh to see grannie and grandad. Both were asking how you were getting on. Both have been checking out the blog though grannie was having computer problems so had not looked for a while. Grandad had got her a new laptop with a TINY on/off switch that she could not find. Auntie Susan has since helped out. She was well today with lots of chat about Helen and Aunt Anne-Marie. Helen has been busy teaching Uni students and Anne-marie is soon off on a 24night cruise to Barbados. That will be good.
We then collected grandad from BA and went to a really nice cafe not far from auntie susans- next door to the Pizza Express on the river. Across the road was a Sunday food market so we bought fine pies for tea and dad got some posh beers. There was a stall selling home made gourmet dog treats-like the ones Marie has at puppy training. I got some for Bonnie and she seems to like them very much-going through her whole trick repertoire without being asked when I took them out of the bag. The lady at the stall had given her one in the afternoon so I thing she could smell them as soon as i took them from the fridge.
Tomorrow is Easter Monday so I have a day off and dad is on call so I will likely do some gardening if the ground is not too frozen to dig. Then Tuesday off too so a very long weekend for me-is great.
Delivered Chloe's birthday card today a bit late but she was happy to receive it and was asking for you. She had just got back from rowing. She passed her driving test 2 wks ago and was driving the polo. When she saw me she pulled into the kerb and scraped her alloys-a very loud noise but only a wee scratch though she got a fright at the noise.
British summer time started today so I have been all mixed up with the time. Might help if all the clocks were set to same time-A job for tomorrow. Dad and I walked Bonnie at the Knapps on the way home from Edinburgh and was still light at 8pm. Temperatures still below freezing though. It is sooo cold and windy.
Quite late now so will say good night. Looking forward to hearing about your next phase.
Lots of Love, Take care, Mum xxx

Viki Williams said...

To Alex Williams 13C

Hi Alex,
Thanks for the wonderful phone call yesterday. It was great to hear all the news and to hear that you are having a fab time. Fancy Freddie going to Shrewsbury. When I first saw his picture I said to everyone that the name sounded familiar.I'll have to email Jack H-W and tell him - can't believe you travel all the way to Borneo and meet someone with a connection to someone we know.

We had a great day yesterday in York, very tiring day as Dad drove there and back in one day!! It was freezing cold but we spent most of the afternoon in a lovely pub by the river to keep warm!

Tell Barry your PM from Alpha 9 that the blog he wrote was fantastic. It gave a real insight into trekking and all the physical and mental stages you went through to complete it. Real team work was obviously required for you to achieve this phase. The pictures of you were great especially of you trying to cut down that tree - you are in your element in the jungle, but we always knew that!

Dad off to see the Shrews today as they are playing Crawley today. Dad says they have a good chance of staying up if they win their last home matches.

Hope you can get on the project you were hoping for. Shame you couldn't phone us again to let us know as sometimes on the blog you are halfway through your allocation before we find out what you are on. Whatever you get next, enjoy and remember to have lots and lots of fun!!!

Take care, keep safe and love you lots.


Anonymous said...

Rosie Rich Alpha 8
Sooooo fantastic to talk to you and hear your voice just now. You sound really happy.
Anyway, checked with airline online account and you are definitely booked on the 0605 flight out of KK on Friday 26th April (MH2637) arriving LHR at 1620 the same day. Terminal 1 departure - check in 0400 in the morning. Will follow up on money side tomorrow.
Off for lunch at Orford now and hopefully find somewhere to walk out of the bitterly cold wind.
Still wearing salupets in the morning to do horses but am sure by the time you get home, spring will have arrived. Love you loads. XXX

Anonymous said...

Hi Lou (Alpha 2 PM),

I love your fancy dress - the NH house entertainments paid off! Good use of washing up bowls. I hope you are well and looking forward to your final phase. Starting to fantasize about a hotel bed yet? It looks like so much work has been put in, turning on the tap at the end will be amazing.

I m at mums for Easter, watched the boat race yesterday Oxford win! Im going to Egypt next week so will catch up when Im back.

lots of lots of love
P.S heard you need to FIX YOUR FACE!

Mom and Dad said...

For Jacob Magalhaes Alpha 2

Hi Jacob,

It was so nice talking to you yesterday and hearing about your trek and how much you are learning and enjoying yourself. We can't wait to hear all your stories when you get back!
It sounds like your next project in the community will be great as well!

We miss you!

Mom and Dad