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November 2011 Issue
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From the Editor

I’ve never slept under a rock biv but after reading Barry Dunnett’s story about the various nights he’s camped beneath an overhand or in the lee of a boulder I feel I’ve missed out.

I actually had a great opportunity to shelter under an overhanging rock once. I was tramping in northern Spain and I had just gone sadomasochistic on myself by climbing the steepest track in the park on my way to the head of a valley where I planned to camp beneath the mountain spires. Completely hacked – I was on my OE so I was carrying more than just a few tramping necessities – I staggered up the trail, occasionally bumping into French and Spanish walkers who were amazed to see me climbing the track most people descended. The valley walk was a much gentler gradient, but something I thought was more suited to day walkers, not serious trampers on a multiday adventure. So I suffered for my cause a I sweated and groaned my way to the tops.

Eventually I made it out of the bush and onto a lovely benched track that had barely a bump on it. My legs were feeling more jelly than muscle so a short while later when I passed the most perfect-looking rock biv I stopped for a break and pondered my options. The biv was made of pure granite and was just high enough off the ground for someone to crawl around and lie down in. Half the rock was submerged beneath the earth, leaving the other half to hang free right beside the track.

I ummed and ahhed – I was at least two hours from my planned camp. But pressure to make good use of the remaining daylight and get as far up valley as possible swayed me. So too did the possibility of the rock falling and squashing me at night. The fact that the boulder had sat there undisturbed for hundreds, probably thousands of years didn’t occur to me at the time. All I could imagine was people walking past the next day and seeing bits of my sleeping bag poking out from under the rock.

Sometimes and active imaginations can wreak havoc on your confidence, common sense and judgement. It’s something I’ve learnt a few times, including on that trip to Spain, and it’s something we explore in more detail in our future in expedition psychology. How to push yourself to accomplish your goals when faced with exhaustion, trying conditions and loneliness takes a special mindset. Whether you want to complete a multi-day tramp or kayak around New Zealand. there’s sound advice for all adventurers.