“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
William Arthur Miller – US writer 1921 – 1994
In the day following the arrival of Storm Abigail three friends and me headed for the Yorkshire Dales to walk the next leg of the Coast to Coast. A number of friends and business contacts questioned our collective wisdom of over 250 years. Our only big picture commitment was to have completed it in stages by Dec 2016. We had already completed stages that took us over half way, so we well on track
We were listening to the weather forecasts. They were dire, predicting high winds weather warnings for flooding and excess rain. We could have easily cancelled the trip.
We decided to take an iterative approach and review the situation. Upon arrival it seemed our doubters had a point – the weather was atrocious.
On the Friday evening we consulted a range of weather forecasts from the BBC TV to mobile app based forecasts. I was struck by the variance of information, making our decision much more challenging.
On the Saturday morning, after another check, we decided to give it a go.
Our plan was over two days to walk form Keld to Reeth, and then Reeth to Richmond – a total of 22 miles over various levels of terrain, presenting definite challenges to the fitness. At the start the weather was reasonable, steadily clearing for a short while before drizzling again. On a positive note, the wind was always at our back.
I find the walking, even in company gives me plenty of opportunity to reflect, and during this time I became aware of a number of things:
Despite Abigail’s worst excesses, nature adapted to the storms.
The swollen rivers carrying sediment with boiling waters from the higher ground to the north and west – meaning that the view and consequences of what I was seeing started many miles away by other events.
The erosion sediments being carried would have had a detrimental effect on the area from where it originated. The water, following its natural course continued to expand – yet nature coped.
Life for the local population (predominantly tourism and farming) went on uninterrupted
The water table was considerably raised in that there was boggy ground much higher than would have normally been expected – not immediately obvious, but discovered by us when we walked across some of the fields.
Normally our footsteps (4 people carrying limited weight) would not have made any impression in grassy fields. However, due to raised water table, and boggy conditions, we unintentionally damaged the grass.
After our first leg was completed we held another meeting to discuss day two. Given our knowledge of the actual weather conditions, current (albeit contradictory) up to date weather forecasts we decided to moderate our second day to walk a shorter distance.
This not proved popular to be the right decision.
Were we to analyse all of our decisions we are still on track to complete our aim
We didn’t take the least line of resistance under pressure, and with uncertain information, we decide to proceed, testing and reviewing as we went along.
Upon our triumphant return home, we were delighted to report that not only had we not been beaten by Storm Abigail, but we actually learned from her.
We did not fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis, or concern ourselves with conflicting information.
We learnt that nature and people can and do adapt to their changing environment, they just to need to believe that they can and try it. If this can be done without compromising other plans all the better.
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Innovation isn’t Rocket Science
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