Adventure. It means different things to different people, yet somehow deep down we all crave it. A break from the normality of life and routine that often comes to define our lives. For me I simply define it as the opportunity to feel something new, and I believe it to be the most important element of a life well lived.
For some people adventure is first ascent of snowy peaks, trail running one of the 14ers or free climbing in Yosemite. But it doesn’t have to be any of these things. A long weekend walk in Edale (followed by an equal amount of time spent by the comforting crackle and pop of a warm fire, thawing out from the Derbyshire drizzle) can be just as beautiful and cleaning for the soul. The point is you don’t have to judge the legitimacy of your adventure time by anyone else’s standards. It’s just good to be outside, and we should all try to do it more.
I really believe that that is also the key to getting mass adoption of environmentalism and the need to protect our precious outdoor spaces. People who are oblivious to the beauty and personal benefit that nature has to offer us (even from a selfish level) can’t be expected to place the same value on the outdoors as those of us who chose to spend our reaction time there. However once you’ve truly felt the transformative power of these experiences, and how they can intrinsically improve your own life, how you feel, the energy you have and you appetite for life – you cant’t help but feel that we need to give a little bit more back in the mother nature-humane value exchange.
To that end I believe the emphasis for those of us that do realise this should be on helping others experience the outdoors more. Simply shaming others to use less plastic, drop less (no litter) etc is an uphill struggle for both parties. Spending quality time with those we love, outside, is at worst a happy memory (intersected by occasional bickering about maps) in the making and a best a transformative realisation that nature is precious and needs stewardship and protection from us all. A small price to pay for all that we can get back in return. The least of which is the ability to keep on breathing and not having our skin boil off in December 2032.
Over the last 5 or so years I’ve become a more adventurous person, and developed more scars as a result. Externally and internally. The word Scar conjures up a negative image at first thought, injury, pain and broken bone. But I don’t think about the word that way, in it’s literal sense, and that’s not what I’m taking about here. The scars I’m referring to, and those I think about warmly are the marks left on my body and heart by the experiences that have seen me push past my comfort zone (and probably skill level). That saw me humbled on the floor (literally and figuratively) but importantly with new memories formed that whenever I’m reintroduced to that scar will come flooding back to me in a warm wave that floods my body and instantly takes me back to the time the scar was formed.
Cycling, Running, Surfing, Climbing, Snowboarding, hiking. I’m not particularly good at any of these things. I discovered that I loved them too late in life (generally in my late 20s early 30s) to ever really get good at any of them. I do them anyway because they have (and continue to do so) brought so much to my life. Memories, smells, sights, friends, skills and most of all lessons learnt about myself and who I actually am. However, it’s taken me a couple of years to become comfortable with the fact that I don’t have to be (or pretend to be) an expert at these sports to take about them and share my experiences of them with other people.
Part of that process is getting over a fear of judgement, a fear of being called out (quite rightly) as a Kook. Nobody wants to get called out for being a kook, and yet we’re all kooks in our own way. I have friends that excel (by my standards) in all of these sports. And although it’s those same friends that introduced me to these sports, it’s those same people that I hold my self up to and fear what their true opinions are about how much I suck at them. I’m always the one one at the back of the group ride, suggesting we stop for a beer. Always catch the fewest waves or get in the way in the line up, or just don’t even bother suiting up because I’ve spent too long on the shore talking myself out of getting in the water. I only started snowboarding 2 years ago, one of my friends climbs mountains to ski down them.
So inevitably whenever I went on a trip I felt like the imposter. Playing at being adventurous. It’s stupid, but it’s human nature so it’s inevitable. At least it is for me, that’s just how my brain works.
What I needed was to find my own level, and to do that I bought a mountain bike, a surfboard, and a van and hit the roads of the West of the US with my wife for 3 months. Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Utah (again), Arizona & California with one goal…always keep moving, live everyday.
I’ll use this website to document some of those stories (and hopefully those of others), and also my progression (or lack of) in the sports I love. But the main purpose of starting this is to give an alternative voice to the outdoor culture and hopefully encourage more people to experience it. Because the experience is the thing. I truly believe it’s the secret to a better quality of life – being outdoors doing something. It can be expensive (with equipment and trip costs) but it also really doesn’t have to be. That shouldn’t be the barrier. Outside is free.