I tend to be more of a planner, spending time on weekends catching up, gardening or even in the garage. A close friend is far more a “spur of the moment” type and often phones when he is around the corner suggesting a walk with the dogs or even a bird-watching session at the Delta.
Time is not a factor and I have even found myself coming home in the dark having to negotiate the precarious plank that goes across the “Braamfontein Spruit” into our suburb.
I have been caught off guard on numerous occasions so eventually I decided to assemble an “impromptu” bug-out kit. This keeps me prepared for any form of mini-adventure he may come up with. These trips are not complicated and have no overly ambitious goals. But my kit is important to comfort and success. So want do I take?
- Firstly all the gear is stowed in my daypack, all that I need do if he calls is fill the water bladder, grab a walking stick, conveniently stowed near the front door and change my shoes. It is a 25 Litre pack so it can handle all the gear for the trip.
- I keep a peak cap in the bag with a small container of sunblock, my weather app does advise on the UV index and the need for sunblock
- A small compact camera is always charged, I do not take the larger mirrorless camera that I use as space is important.
- Regardless of the weather, I take a rain jacket as we sometimes walk at least 15 km in changeable conditions.
- As we often walk beyond dusk, I take a headlamp and a phone charger. The phone charger doubles as an emergency torch. Lumens and run-time are important so I always check the batteries and keep the torch charged. The adventure carries on even when the sun goes down. Nonetheless, I also carry spare batteries.
- As he is a keen birder I include binoculars and a bird book. I use the National Audubon Society field guide as it is light and comprehensive covering birds and wildlife.
- An outdoor specific blanket is an important part of the lit as we often buy sandwiches and coffee and just sit and observe. There is always something to see on our walks. The blanket has a water-resistant base layer in case the ground is damp, especially with early morning dew and damp.
- There are a plethora of coffee shops on our routes so to be eco-friendly I take two double-walled mugs which allow us to enjoy coffee on the go. The mugs have closable lids with a small opening. The thermal capacity means it will keep a smoothie cold and a coffee warm.
- Shoes are important, the terrain although undulating suits a lighter shoe that can dry easily if it gets wet. I opt for a lighter”trail” shoe. Closed toes are important as sandals can result in problems with small stones and thorns.
The pack hangs behind the door in my office readily at hand for any adventure. As I said Bob will call when he is around the corner and I hate to disappoint him. It has also made me more spontaneous which is a good thing. It is important to get out there and explore the open spaces. We have so many great spots in Johannesburg. The Melville “Koppies” are another favourite, especially with the vista they offer of the Johannesburg skyline which includes a view of Richmond, Ponte and the Johannesburg Hospital.
Here’s to the next trail.