How to Start Your Life of Outdoor Adventure
It’s never too late to cultivate a new passion. Or to rediscover an old one.
For me, an old passion was my love of the big outside, a love that I can trace back to childhood car camping trips to Green Patch with the entire extended family. Today, the outdoors is still my playground; but it is also where I have found physical challenge, mental rejuvenation and the key to unlock the other loves of my life. A life of outdoor adventure offers so much.
However, in our modern society, we are definitely behind screens amongst concrete more often than behind tent flaps amongst untamed bush and so it can be overwhelming to even think of hiking or kayaking for hours a day. How do you overcome these feelings of intimidation and trepidation and start your own life of outdoor adventure?
Easy. Start small and the rest will fall into place.
5 easy ways to start:
Read and watch outdoors-related material
Living vicariously through others is the gentlest introduction and is also an easy way to lay your foundation. Choose longer-form content such as books and documentaries as they will have greater power in inspiring and calling you to act than just beautiful photos on Instagram.
You can learn the sport-specific terminology so that when it is used in context, you will totally get what’s going on instead of being like, “what’s a sweep stroke?”
The longer-form content also provides you with the behind-the-scenes, such as training history and mindset; this is not only educational but also presents a more human perspective, making the achievements feel more within your reach.
Sign up and pay for a course
Nothing can beat experience. If you are not fortunate enough to know some expert outdoorsmen, then enrolling for some formal tuition is the way to go.
This allows you to practice under a watchful eye as well as provides an open environment for questions. You are who you surround yourself with and in addition to being around those who can be teachers, you will meet likeminded individuals of similar ability with whom you can train.
Signing up and paying for a course also means that you have committed to your life of adventure. When you have paid for something, the stakes are higher and you are less likely to bail with excuses like inconveniencing your friend or not having the right equipment.
Go car camping
Car camping is the best initiation to camping for those who are wary of sleeping outside and the perfect opportunity to prepare for later backcountry adventures.
For those who are apprehensive about camping, car camping can be more enjoyable because you can pack as many luxuries as you want. Think an actual pillow, fresh eggs for breakfast, even a case of beer!
For those preparing for future backcountry trips, you can test your gear in terms of what works and what doesn’t, without the worry of being stuck overnight in the cold with a stove that you can’t figure out and a sleeping bag rated +5, not -5 degrees.
In any case, your car becomes your safety net. If it turns out that you actually really hate the #camplife, you can just pack up and leave.
Take a hike
What are the biggest risks faced in the outdoors? Getting injured and getting lost. When you are new to the outdoors, these risks may seem frighteningly large but you will learn that as with any other risks in life, you just need the proper skills and awareness to manage them.
To ease your nerves, start off by hiking on a maintained and marked track. The terrain is likely to be less demanding but will still be great exposure to something other than a concrete sidewalk. It also means that you can just walk without worrying too much about direction. You will still get that feeling of accomplishment at the finish line, because you got there on your own two feet.
Do the tourist thing
How often have you actually stopped and explored your own town, city or region? Pick some of your area’s great views and photo opportunities, most of these will be mapped out by your local tourist information centre. Visit your local cafes and markets for more of a gourmet day out. Grab your bike some friends and a picnic and make a day of it. By being a tourist in your own town, you will already be familiar with the area which will take the stress out of getting there, you are close to home if anything goes wrong, and you may just discover some secret gems you never knew existed.
Written by Thuc Do.
This story first appeared in issue 4 and has been edited for length.