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> July 27, 2006 - Learning from the Past, A successful field experience requires careful preparation
Jason_Petula
post Jul 28 2006, 05:10 PM
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Preparing for an expedition to the remote Arctic requires a lot of running around. In addition to packing, it is always a good idea to test all equipment to ensure it works properly. It is usually the simple things that catch you by surprise.

I learned this lesson on preparation years ago during a trip to Belize – I forgot my tent. Many days later, I was sitting at a local watering hole in the charming village of Placencia sharing my misfortune with new found friends. One couple I shared this story with was an adventurous pair traveling along the coast in small sailboat. The sailboat owner stated he had a tent I could have if I would be willing to bring him back to the boat anchored a few hundred yards offshore. Jack was in no condition to get the tent himself due to his extraordinary consumption of rum.

There are times in one’s life where it is necessary to ask, “What am I doing here?” I was rowing an intoxicated stranger in pitch darkness in an attempt to locate a small sailboat camouflaged by a moonless night. I asked, “How far is the sailboat?” His blank stare caused me concern. Then, he leaned toward the side of the rowboat and passed out. He then fell into the water. Pulling him back into the boat took tremendous effort because he was completely unconscious.

It took a half hour to locate the sailboat. I dragged the man to his cabin and made sure he was in a safe position before returning to shore with the tent. I related the story to his companion when I returned ashore. She immediately took my place in the rowboat and slipped into the darkness to check on him.

After walking up the beach to locate a quite spot to set up camp, I began setting up the tent. The first sign of trouble was that the tent storage bag was corroded shut by sea salt. Desperate for sleep, I cut the bag open only to discover the tent had no poles. Lesson learned – always be prepared before leaving for any trip. That evening, the crabs and sand fleas had a party tormenting me.

I have no desire to sleep in the Arctic without a properly functioning tent. Thus, I made sure all of my equipment was sound and functioning correctly. Now everything is packed and I am ready to head up to Fairbanks for final preparations before deploying to the field. Hopefully the lessons learned from the past will pay off.

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Jason and son Wyatt testing the field tent to ensure
everything works properly.
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