Hiking the mountain rainforests of Costa Rica is going to be a lot of fun! But it is going to be a whole lot more fun with the proper gear and with the right preparations, and sitting in front of the computer for the past few decades does not qualify. So here we go!
I have had a lot of fun this summer gearing up and getting into shape. The looming departure date on November 28 has been a great motivator to getting out there, and now that I have gotten a daily routine going I actually get withdrawals when I can’t make it out for whatever reason. It is a pretty cool feeling! Reconnecting with nature has been the recipe for me getting back on my feet again from the get go. But in the beginning of the year my energy reserves were so depleted that I had to stay close to home, taking it slow with small projects in the garden and fiddling with the orchids in the greenhouse. Short moments at a time with many breaks to rest in between. Over the course of the summer though I have slowly been recharging my batteries. Now I am up on the mountain, in the woods, for an hour or two at a time. It makes me feel stronger and stronger for every day and I actually manage to stay in the moment when I am out there, and it makes me feel good! My version of mindfulness I guess.
A part from a few days hiking in the mountains far up north I have mainly been exploring many different trails pretty close to home. The Bohuslän coastline, just north of Gothenburg, really is quite amazing, it was even voted one of the world’s last great wilderness areas by CNN a few years ago, and I could not agree more. I found plenty of beautiful places along the coast right here in my back yard. Turns out this is especially true of the small mountain right out here by the summer cottage. It is hard to imagine that I have lived here every summer my whole life and I had no idea there was so much to discover up there! I have found amazing new trails up, down and around the mountain. Anything from small animal paths to more well travelled ones, along the ocean as well as up in the woods. My goal has been to stay off the paved roads as much as possible and to find as much rough and hilly terrain as I can in preparation for my trip. I really like what I have found and feel lucky to have it right outside the door.
Since we are going to camp out in the rainforest for a few nights in Costa Rica I have had to gear up a bit. I had to get everything from hiking boots to trekking poles and a camping stove, among other things, but the main thing was a hammock. It will be hard to find suitable places for a tent where we are going, especially with a group of about 10 people, so a hammock is really the only viable option if you want some level of comfort. This was a whole new world to me, so true to form I did a major deep dive (research wise) before deciding on which one to get. Only the best (within reason of course) would do, and I am very happy with my choice… a Warbonnet Blackbird XLC. It is really a great piece of American made quality gear. I feel confident I will sleep very well on our overnight hikes. The only thing I had to figure out though was how to stay warm in the darn thing! (Google cold butt syndrome.) I am rarely ever cold and I am never, ever (!) cold when I sleep, but turns out I am very cold in a hammock!! A sleeping pad was just not going to cut it for me, so after trying out different insulation options I finally broke down and just made myself an underquilt (they are really expensive to buy). It is basically a modified sleeping bag that hang underneath the hammock since any material inside the hammock gets compressed underneath you and then does not insulate very well. My DIY project actually turned out pretty nice despite me not having touched a sowing machine since highschool shop class…
Since much of the gear is new, I have been field testing it, both in the comforts of home right out on the patio, as well as on some shorter day trips. My boots are now nice and broken in so hopefully they will serve me well on as well as off the trail. I have done my homework and so far I am very happy with all my choices. Now I am just working on the packlist, trying to be smart about what to bring in order to keep weight down. A true challenge! More on this at a later time.
The date is getting closer and closer and I am counting the days! I just finished my vaccinations couple of days ago and the to-do list is starting to look pretty manageable at this point. Most of it checked off. Sure I still have a few things left to do, renewing my passport for instance (!), but over all I do feel ready. As I feel that some things (the preparations) are starting to come to an end, the feeling that something new is about to begin is starting to take hold. This is so much more than just one expedition, this is really the start of a whole new life, and it feels amazing!