Sometimes the hardest part of an adventure is starting.
We’ve all been there. We’ve got jobs, lives, kids, dogs, fish to feed, etc. Maybe not all of those things, but a collection of what might be called responsibilities. They get in the way of traveling.
I have a lease and a girlfriend. I can’t just hop in my car and go live on the road again. Also, I might be getting too old to sleep comfortably on a piece of plywood in a Subaru Impreza Outback. Even if I could, I probably wouldn’t just now . . . but that reality does weigh on me.
Here’s the good news, though: Actually being on the adventure is at least as big a pain in the ass as making sure your children and pets don’t starve or devour one another to fend off starvation, and your loved ones don’t abandon you in your absence.
You don’t just walk up mountains. Well, you do. But you walk up a lot of hills and smaller mountains, first. You run up some stairs. You eat well, you save up that money, you look for deals on new equipment.
You typically invest forward into adventures, and there are two main ways to do that during non-adventure periods of life.
Enjoying the Right Here, Right Now
I’m technically travelling right now, and I’m enjoying it, but what I’m actually doing is sleeping on a couch a foot shorter than me in a hidden valley of boxes in the garage of my family’s new house in Prescott, Arizona, while I help get it ready for them.
Changing out outlets, can lights, hanging doors, and moving appliances is not exactly fun, right?
Even less fun is the part where I wake up, work on my writing stuff somewhere with internet, then go work on the house, then go out and work on more writing work, then go back to the house and work until I’m ready to fall asleep. You’ll notice I used to the word “work” roughly eighteen times in that sentence.
However, if you haven’t trained your brain right, you don’t get the most out of whatever adventures you end up going on. And there’s no time like the present to learn to look for the amazing things in every little thing.
Not just experiencing them fully, but noticing them at all. You have to train yourself to look, to listen, to ferret out all the things around you, and then, once you’ve done that, to experience the things you discover in full.
I’m not some expert at wringing all available joy from each thing, mind you, but I’m a determined student of the discipline.
Let me show you some of the moments I’ve discovered this trip:
My Gram, Do, actually spotted this mule deer doe first. I heard something rustling around, but didn’t see anything until she pointed it out. Not a bad spot for 94, right?
This was a moment while I was working across from the old Territorial Courthouse in Prescott. Just a lovely afternoon. The rain clouds also made for a beautiful sunset when I was back at the house later.
Believe it or not, this was the second best sunset of the trip. The day before brought this wonder to life:
I actually pulled over to watch this one for a minute. And I can’t forget to mention this new friend I rescued from inside the new house.
This guy isn’t actually a skink, after all, he’s a Madrean alligator lizard.
So, what I’m getting at is that you need to make a habit of putting yourself in the right frame of mind to enjoy adventures, and habits are things you do every day, consistently.
Then there’s the other side of the preparation coin; you’ve got to get out there and really push yourself, and you have to do it often. All the time. I’ve let that slide, I really have, and it shows. I’m up at 190 pounds, which is the heaviest I’ve ever been. Now, that’s not all tub by a longshot, but it’s sure not all lean muscle, either. I’ve been fatter than I am right now, but I’ve never weighed more.
And I’ve got no endurance right now. What muscles I have get tired fast. That’s something that’s different for every person, of course. If I slack off fitness, I stay strong . . . but maintaining good cardio is a constant battle for me. Of course, part of the feeling of lacking cardio might just be the extra fifteen pounds I’m packing around with me.
The other day, I hauled myself up a small hill near my new house, and you’d better believe I was feeling it a bit when I got up there.
Still, we have to push in the easy moments, keep on getting up, keep on walking, running, riding, climbing, so that when we have the chance, we can go fifteen miles in a day instead of ten. We can climb just a little higher, haul just a little more gear.
If nothing else, you want to build those callouses up, so you aren’t shaving layers off your heels with every step up the mountain. Been there, done that, in King’s Canyon NP, would not repeat if possible. This is an extra difficult battle for me, as I have big, long, thick, monkey-toed, man-feet . . . and dainty little ballerina heels that try to fall out of any shoe that actually fits the rest of my foot comfortably.
Training every day you can goes beyond simple comfort, though. Because there’s another reason you need push your limits, if you’re planning on hiking in rough country, particularly solo hiking: Someday, your life could count on you giving it your all . . . and if your all isn’t enough, you’re never going to get a second chance. You walk that extra mile every day, because someday you might need every extra mile you can wring from your heart and your will.
I’m not one of those people who thinks there’s any shame in staying at home, reading books, and putting on a little pudge. If that’s what you want, I’d recommend you work out enough to stay healthy, so you live a little longer–just think how many new books each added year of life adds up to!–but if that’s not what you want, if you want to take risks, push the bounds, get out past the safety rails, you owe it to yourself (and the people who will have to look for you when you go missing) to work every day to be the most durable person you can.
Speaking of survival.
A Chance to Test Out Gear
So, while in a knife fight with a dead chicken during my lunch break, I managed to heroically almost cut the tip off the finger they’d blur out on network television.
Wrapping Things Up
So, yeah, it’s a damned shame we can’t be out there every other week, traipsing about this beautiful world. Fact is, though, the time you’re not out there is just as valuable to improving your experiences in the wild as your time spent actually out there beneath the wide blue skies.
Have a great week, and some good adventures!
PS If you’ve been on any great adventures this week, please share them below!