Introducing the NOMAD
Context: This blog is designed to expand on the concept that I followed during the film Snowdon Nomad - Swim to Snowdon. My goal is to conduct a Nomad once a year as I find it a great way to bring perspective and grounding to my life. If you want to be notified of the start point for the next Nomad please enter you email in the link at the bottom of this blog post.
A Nomad, is a self sufficient journey from A to ... where every you want to get to, with the goal of exploring your limits and the chosen landscape.
A Nomad can take you through rivers, lakes, coastal waters. It will definitely take you through footpaths , bridal paths, across country occasionally a quick trip across a bit of private land. You don't have to cross bodies of water should you not wish to, but a full blooded Nomad will include more then one swim. This aspect of moving through water dramatically affects how you pack your equipment and test the sole that little bit more.
The goal is to move yourself, self sufficiently through the landscape, you have a time deadline at which time you need to recover back to your life of work and family. How far you travel during your allotted time is down to your desired physical stimulus, in the Snowdon Nomad my goal was to test myself physically as well as mentally. This meant I was running between swims and ensuring I swam when I had planned to swim. Notably in the film I was behind time on day 1 and ended up doing my second swim in the dark!
You can watch the Snowdon Nomad HERE
A core aspect of a Nomad is the self sufficiently part, you should plan on carrying all the food, equipment and clothing you are going to need over the duration of your journey. You can normally find water sources on the land, so a lightweight water filter or purification tablets are a must to save you trying to carry enough water for the entire journey.
Food could also be foraged from the land but in general you should plan to carry a certain amount of calories for each days activities. In the film I carried 2500calories per day, I only ended up eating 1500 calories a day, more so out of chasing distance then a conscious decision.
For longer Nomads that go beyond 3 days a concept I’m looking to explore on one of my next films is caching food parcels along my intended route prior to starting, this concept then allows you to string together long journeys.
Equipment carried is another area that is down to the individual to define. In the film I intended to be comfortable and warm when static. This meant I carried a quality one man tent, a sleeping bag, more than one set of warm and dry clothing and multiple pairs of socks. Should you be looking to save weight you could get away with a very minimal set of equipment. The equipment you carry will be heavily influenced by your environmental conditions. As a minimum though you should plan to carry solutions to the following survival problems;
Shelter - one man tent, poncho, scavenged plastic sheeting, natural cover, abandoned buildings are all on the cards. Staying in a b&b, camper van, tent someone else has supplied or any other form of arranged shelter is out of bounds. The golden rule is, am I being self sufficient?
Warmth - to aid rest but potentially a cook set to enable you to eat hot food
Sleeping system - I carried a sleeping bag and inflatable role mat, but you could go down to sleeping in your warm kit on the ground.
Sustenance - food is fuel. Water can be found from the environment, but if you are doing this in an arid space you will need to plan your water sources and replenishment options.
A container to carry all this in - obviously the amount of kit you pack will dictate the size of the container. In the film I sourced a dry bag rucksack that comfortably took my kit and also enabled me to navigate through swims with all my kit. The added benefit was that this dry bag doubled as a safety buoy should I need to rest during a swim.
Risk. A Nomad should contain a element of risk, you will be self sufficient out in the wild. If you are alone then you need to consider how you will raise the alarm and attract help. This risk assessment should impact the equipment you carry, your route planning and communication plan. As a minimum before any Nomad you should have a reliable person briefed on your communication timings, will you be communicating before and after each swim? A key points of mobile phone signal? Or just when you finish? What time should this person expect your communication and if you don't communicate how long should they wait before raising the alarm?
Risk is a valuable tool to be used to realise some of the benefits of a Nomad, you may not be 100% comfortable with every aspect of your route, but over coming those hurdles and facing up to risk are important aspects of life we need to be constantly developing. Number 1 one rule, as far as possible identify risks ahead of time and if in seen risky activities appear exercise caution. A good example of this may be that you planned to swim a section of a river, but when you get there the river has a greater flow of water then planned for, so you can choose to alter your route by shortening he swim or avoiding the swim all together.
Shit happens, as you see in the film in my first swim, I was struggling to find deep enough water to swim, this meant I was spending large amounts of time walking in high winds through knee depth water and getting hammered by the wind chill. I altered my plan by shortening the swim and running a bit further.
Exercising the dependency upon your own wits is a very freeing experience, and another key learning opportunity a Nomad can facilitate.
If you like this concept of a Nomad and would like to join me on my next Nomad please check out the Snowdon Nomad film on YouTube HERE , in the description is a link to the email sign up.
Please find me on Instagram @world_accoridng_to_dave and share your thoughts on this concept I’m keen to understand if this concept of a NOMAD is something more people are interesting in.
All the best,