Good, old..

“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks is the departure upon a distant journey to unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the Slavery of Home, man feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood….afresh dawns the morn of life…”

Sir Richard Francis Burton

I used to think I had been born in the wrong century. Part of me still does. Don't misunderstand me, I love not having Polio and the warm delights of a decent broadband connection. However, sometimes the lure of the "good old days" just seem..well, good.

Times change, sometimes people change with them. That is how we progress. I guess.

What if we lost something along the way? That deep love of endeavour. The same love that caused a man to leap into adventure. Would we have a Cousteau or Burton now? Maybe. But probably not.

That isn't to say we've lost it all, light a BBQ, watch how people gather around it. Something deep within our genetic makeup tells us that fire protects us, warms us. We don't need it in 2015, not with Microchips, but still something inexorably draws us to it. That same draw is within us for exploration.
It has been the saving grace for society. Mostly. Don't let the fire go out. If the Guild can light yours, then that is all it was devised to do.
Not all that once was is lost. Pockets of old adventure exist, still. We just have to be brave enough to search for them.


The truth.

"The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.

The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man's mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others."

With these words Cormac McCarthy stoked the fires of my adventurous self. Read The Evening Redness in The West, right now. Its a story about the savage nature of man but also about as close to taking a long ride in 1840 as you'd wish to get. Not to mention containing one of the single greatest villains in literature history, The Judge.


The list of kit I compiled at the planning stage of the expedition is not the one I have now. Evolution at work. I have very little in the way of fixed ideas about what is "the best" of something, I do, however always make sure any equipment I own is tested in an environment fitting the destination and of simple design. I dislike shiny goretex or velcro, as do most horses. Natures own wet weather expect, the sheep, has been clothing itself for sometime in the single best material for any long ride. Wool.

Some things remain, my saddle for instance. Based on an old McClellan design which in turn is based on an older cavalry model. Sometimes old ways are better, particularly with horses. It allows a far great flexibility with the varying size horse, hugely important in any long ride as your mounts condition fluctuates throughout the journey. The pack saddle (just below my riding saddle in the picture opposite) is one I had made in Canada, Mongolian pack saddles simply don't exist in any useful form.

Similarly, my stove is a trusted swedish model from the 1950s, it has never failed in over half a century. Its earned a place. 

My knife, the life and soul of the adventurer, is one of the newer additions. It was made by a man called Steve who runs Habalis Bushtools. It is the perfect marriage of beauty and function. I often catch myself looking at it. Mongolia will be its first test. 

My first aid kit is extensive, being in the trade. All items therein follow a simple rule, good for people and horses. Sutures, bandages and various lotions and potions.

Boots, half wool, half leather with a decent heel and broken in. You walk just as much as ride on a long ride. A broad brimmed hat is essential, both for fair/foul weather and for fanning your fire.

A down 3 season sleeping bag and a light sleep mat are new additions, I will be conducting some outdoor tests later next week once my tent arrives.

The tent. THE tent. I learnt sometime ago that the things that are exactly what you need often don't exist outside your fevered imagination. Therefore you have to construct them, or in my case, find someone who's job it is to make dreams tangible. That person lives in America is named Peter and owns a tiny company called TentSmiths. Peter built my dream tent, from waxed canvas, with his hands. It took 4 months. The beauty of a tent tarp that has no footprint is the huge flexibility that offers for multiple configurations. Many travellers of old lauded the virtues of a simple tarp like shelter for both ease of pitch and putting you in the heart of the landscape you are traveling within. Modern tents simply encase you. Like a florescent coffin. A more through review will follow on my tent when I have explored all its wonderful quirks.

Kit mentality is a polarizing subject, many seasoned adventurers will disagree with my kit list. Many others will share similar traits. The only real answer is to be familiar with whatever you have and learn that the lightest and easiest thing to carry is knowledge. The sort of kit you have doesn't dictate the quality of the adventurer, it simply facilitates the adventure to the degree of your knowledge and research. Look at everything you have and ask if it has proved its self enough.

Enjoy making the list. It is after all, part of the adventure.