Not many people truly understand the amount of work and organising that goes into planning an expedition. To be honest, I don't think I had any idea how much work I was signing myself up for when I chose this as my path. It's tricky, I do what I do because it makes me happy, I can help others and inspire people to get outdoors. I thought I would be spending the majority of my time on adventures and out in nature, but leading up to an expedition I am basically housebound! Sending countless emails, making phone calls, getting turned down time and time again. Finding expedition partners, planning the entire trip around them only for them to ghost me after weeks of work. It is exhausting and I would often be feeling left defeated and confused.
Even after months of being told "no" and feeling like things will never get off the ground, all it takes is one positive person, one company that believes in me or one connection to a guy who knows a guy who knew a guy... to turn things around and fill me with positive motivation!
As the months went by I was slowly piecing the trip together. I had my main sponsor, Kathmandu supporting me and enabling me to make the trip happen. Knowing I would have gear for myself and my expedition partner was a huge relief. Radix Nutrition came to the party not long after Kathmandu, man did they make my life easier. Not only was Radix committing to supplying me with meals for the 90 days, but they were also supplying them for my expedition partner as well. They were willing to equip us with meals that met our Nutrition requirements and even send them to towns we would be passing through so we didn't have to carry our entire food supply. From this point, I knew I was going to have to make this thing happen, one way or another!
After my first expedition partner dropping out due to financial pressure, and my second one disappearing off the face of the earth, it was looking like I was going to do be doing a solo trip. I was gutted, I had really really wanted to share this journey with someone. Due to my struggles with my ADHD and my own mental health, I found this so much more difficult to swallow that I thought I would. I was pretty down, I was awake all day and all night, locked in my bedroom, not eating or socialising. Not even wanting to use the bathroom if I could hear someone in the house. Looking back, this was me not wanting to show weakness or defeat to Ngaio or her family.
Loren Kett is a lovely woman from Christchurch, she works for the company that made the Greenland film from my previous expedition. Loren radiates kindness with her bright smile and peaceful demeanour, I had only met Loren once when I asked her to join me on this crazy expedition. I didn’t chose to invite her because of things she had achieved or her fitness level, I chose her because I wanted to make a point that there is no such thing as an extraordinary person just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. She said yes.
There are obviously a lot of details such as going over the trip with her family, leaving her job, saving some money and sorting out her living situation. Loren took it all in her stride and proved to me that she was as keen as mustard to be my partner on this expedition. Throughout the journey, both Loren and I will encounter mental, physical and emotional challenges. Although this will be confronting for us, I hope it can help to inspire others to push their own boundaries and perhaps reflect on themselves and their mental and physical wellbeing.
As time went by more pieces of the puzzle were coming together. VSSL from Canada offered to hook me and Loren up with some awesome gear and helped me out with the financials (phew), Trackme NZ agreed to supply me with my tracker once again which was wicked, GoPro, Panasonic and GoalZero all came to the party to supply me with gear that will allow me to capture this journey, which is a priceless opportunity.
With all of the wicked sponsors, my entire summer savings plus a wee cash injection from my Dida, I was able to buy bikes from SCV imports, get them sent to Sydney then buy my flights. Finally, the dream was a reality.
The start of an expedition is exciting, the end of an expedition is a huge mixture of joy, success and nostalgia, but the weeks leading up to an expedition... they are a stress-filled kaleidoscope of emotions.
It doesn't matter how far ahead I start my planning, or how much help people offer me, there is always too much to be done and not enough time. I have not once been packed and ready to go or been in bed at a reasonable hour before I fly out. I almost certainly will be up into the early hours of the morning packing, I will definitely have at least one meltdown and I without a doubt will forget something. Every. Single. Time.
The joy of this expedition is that Loren and I have had two weeks in Australia before the expedition finally begins. This meant we've had time to ensure every single thing has been organised, from arranging how my book orders will be managed while I'm away, to who will run my social media, my website, emails and post my blogs. I also have to figure out how to build our bikes (kinda crucial), buy 70L worth of water bladders for Loren and I (also kinda crucial), buy a plan for my satellite phone (so you guys can follow the journey) and get all the essential things that I have ordered from all around the world.
There is an underlying frantic feeling because once we are out there we can't just google the closest water source, we have to know how far it is, where it is and how long it will take us to get there. We arent able to check on metservice when the next dust storm is heading our way, we have to read the conditions and just take every day as it comes. Although it feels stressful now, I know the feeling I get once I am in nature. I would describe the feeling as clarity. Not having external sources of information, just my research, my map, my instincts and nature.
I can't wait for that connection again.