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  • Writer's pictureRichard Mark Dobson

Natural Navigators

39 days on the road, and we've relied on apps like Kamoot, Google Maps, and Strava for navigation. Let's face it, smartphone apps have become our go-to tools for nearly everything in today's world. From stargazing and finding companions to ordering meals, chasing northern lights, monitoring weather conditions, and, in our case, determining our route and tracking team members' live locations on the map.

Technology has revolutionized navigation, providing us with detailed information about terrain, elevation, predicted weather, and even estimated calorie expenditure well in advance. However, while this tech is undeniably valuable, it can sometimes diminish our instincts and our innate ability to grasp the fundamental principles of navigation.

To reconnect with these skills, we can turn to the ultimate natural navigators—avian wayfarers. It's a topic that every seasoned traveler should explore, and one that Ajmal Samuel and this author have contemplated before the commencement of this long form road trip challenge.

Geese fly west towards Sticklestad, Trøndelag county, Norway.

Writer Barry Lopez, in his seminal work "Arctic Dreams," delves into the intricate world of birds, particularly the marvel of their migrations. Lopez's narrative serves as an intellectual journey into the mysteries of avian navigation and orientation.

Throughout "Arctic Dreams," Lopez showcases the astounding feats of migration undertaken by various bird species, often traveling thousands of miles across continents and oceans. He is captivated by the inherent wisdom and instincts that drive these birds to embark on such arduous journeys, and he seeks to understand the enigmatic forces guiding them. He highlights the remarkable ability of birds to tap into the Earth's magnetic fields, navigate by the stars, and respond to subtle environmental cues.

Wild geese seen winging their way out into a winter night over Trondheim fjord, in their classic V-formation.

He delves into the complex interplay of ecological factors, celestial cues, and genetic predispositions that shape these avian odysseys. His intellectual musings explore the delicate balance of instinct and adaptation that governs these migrations.

He, like this author, is in awe of how they boldly take to the skies.

Greylag Geese take flight from the Stjørdalselva river. Trondheim.

Canadian Geese seen against a brooding Nordic sky.

A Bar-Tailed Godwit takes flight on lake Snåsavatnet.

Now, let's take a moment to ponder the wisdom we can glean from our feathered friends. Let's reflect on the principles they employ and how Ajmal Samuel mirrors many of these strategies as he undertakes his formidable 2500+km Resolve Challenge. It unfolds as follows:

  1. Navigation and Orientation: Birds are remarkable navigators, relying on a combination of visual cues, the position of the sun and stars to find their way during migrations. In journey planning, humans can learn the importance of careful orientation and navigation skills. Understanding maps, GPS, and natural landmarks.

  2. Adaptability: Birds often adjust their flight paths and destinations based on weather conditions and other factors. Travelers can learn to be adaptable and open to changes in their journey plans. Being willing to alter routes or schedules in response to unexpected circumstances can enhance safety and enjoyment.

  3. Resourcefulness: Many birds are skilled foragers, finding food and water sources along their migration routes. In the same way, travelers should be resourceful in sourcing necessities like food, water, and shelter. Knowing how to find and utilize local resources can be valuable during a long journey.

  4. Communication: Birds use various forms of communication, including calls and visual cues, to convey information to one another. Effective communication is crucial during a journey, especially when traveling with a group. Keeping open lines of communication can help ensure everyone's safety and well-being.

  5. Rest and Conservation of Energy: Birds know when to rest during their long flights to conserve energy. Travelers can apply this principle by planning breaks and rest stops during their journey. Adequate rest can help maintain physical and mental health over the course of a challenging trip.

  6. Teamwork: Many bird species migrate in flocks, which offers protection and support during their journeys. Traveling with a group or team can provide similar benefits for humans. Collaborating with others can enhance safety, provide companionship, and offer different skills and perspectives.

  7. Respect for Nature: Birds are deeply connected to the natural world, and their migrations often depend on the health of ecosystems along their routes. Travelers can learn from this by respecting and preserving the environments they pass through. Leave no trace, minimize environmental impact, and support conservation efforts.

  8. Persistence and Determination: Birds display incredible determination during their migrations, flying thousands of miles to reach their destinations. Travelers can adopt a similar sense of persistence and determination when facing challenges on their journey. Believing in one's ability to overcome obstacles is key to completing an epic overland adventure.

Greylag and Canadian Geese forage and feed in the thousands on the tidal wetlands of the most inland reaches of the Trondheim Fjord, in the vicinity of Nordskaget.

TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED: 2,197.10 Km (1st October 2023)

Day 41-Berkak to Tynset 93.06km

Day 40 -Trondheim to Berkak 72.58km

Day 39 -Rest Day. Trondheim

Day 38 -Sticklestad to Trondheim 95.50km

Day 37 -Kvam to Sticklestad 56.46km

Day 36 -Harran to Steinkjer 71.98km

Day 35 -Namsskogen to Harran 61.60km

Day 34 -Mosjoen to Namsskogen (Car)

Day 33 -Rest day Mosjoen

Day 32 -Nensa to Mosjoen 70km

Day 31 -Mo I Rana to Nensa 66.45Km

Day 30 -Rest day Mo I Rana

Day 29 -Meravan to Mo I Rana 98.01km

Day 28 -Slussfors to Hermavan 85.17km

Day 27 -Storuman to Slussfors. 62.00km

Day 26 -Lycksele to Storuman 102.9km

Day 25 -Vindeln to Lycksele 75.75 km

Day 24 -Holmsund to Vindeln 75.7km

Day 23 -Vaasa to Holmsund (Ferry Ride)

Day 22 -Rest day Vaasa

Day 21- Rest day Vaasa

Day 20 -Narpes to Vaasa 79.8km

Day 19- Merikarvia to Närpes 93.76 km

Day 18 -Pori to Merikarvia 52.8km

Day 17- Rauma to Pori 57.9km

Day 16 -Uusikaupunki to Rauma 47.4km

Day 15 -Turku to Uusikaupunki 73.5km

Day 14 -Helsinki to Turku (Car)

Day 13 -Tallin to Helsinki (Ferry ride)

Day 12- Tallin Rest & Recharge

Day 11- Märjamaa to Tallin 72.17

Day 10 -Pärnu linn to Märjamaa 64.1km

Day 9- Pärnu Rest & Recharge

Day 8 - Salacgriva to Pärnu 75km

Day 7 - Riga to Salacgriva 104.4km

Day 6 - Riga Rest and Recharge

Day 5 - Plieņciema kāpa to Riga 60.14Km

Day 4 - Kuldiga to Plieņciema kāpa 108.59Km

Day 3 - Liepāja to Kuldīga 97.34Km

Day 2 - Sventājato Liepāja 62.11Km

Day 1 - Klaipeda to Sventāja 42.89Km

Join the expedition, follow updates, and tag along on this inspiring adventure."

ASF has carefully chosen Resolve to be the beneficiary for 2023: Resolve is a charity founded in 2017 that helps create change makers in our community to drive a more inclusive city. Their signature program is a Fellowship that has so far supported over 70 emerging community leaders from diverse walks of life. There have been five cohorts of the fellowship on racial equality, ending gender-based violence, disABILITIES and empowerment, wellbeing and health and (E)quality Education for all.

Visit the following URL in order to support the "I Resolve Challenge" and visit the following URL in order to support the "I Resolve Challenge" and give:

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