While my coworkers are busy slaying whitewater rapids and winning mountain bike races, my outdoor aspirations are decidedly more modest. My goal for this summer can be summed up in three words: more time outside.
When it comes to outdoor adventures, the biggest obstacle I face is finding the time to get away. Between work that requires me to be at a desk (at least, most of the time) and summer calendar packed with weddings, birthdays, and baby showers, it’s difficult to carve out long stretches to tackle big adventures, like a thru-hike. So I was excited to find a roster of rad adventurers who are championing more achievable outdoor goals, like simply getting outside more often.
From Alastair Humphries' year of microadventures to semi-rad’s challenge to spend 31 nights outside to a spate of recent articles about the close-to-home adventure, there is plenty of inspiration for how to squeeze adventure into stolen time, evenings, and long weekends.
For my part, I am taking some creative measures to get a little more time outside this summer. First, the low-hanging fruit: convincing my husband to spend some of our rare wedding-free weekends camping or backpacking within a few hours’ drive from home. This has led to Memorial Day backpacking in our favorite haunt in West Virginia, and a weekend camping trip with friends in Shenandoah National Park, complete with swimming under a freezing waterfall.
To get more time outside, I've also tacked on hikes and overnights to my summer travel. After a wedding in Idaho, I sneaked away for five nights in Idaho’s spectacular White Clouds and Sawtooth Wilderness. For days where an overnight is impossible, there are low-commitment adventures: reading in a hammock beside the Potomac, scrambling along the popular Billy Goat Trail, squeezing in a morning hike before work or baby shower tugs me back into the city.
Then my coup d’etat: a brilliant scheme I call Business Camping, a way to convert my work-related trips out west into nights under the stars and sunrise hikes. Rather than book a hotel, I book a campground (preferably with a shower). Being able to bookend my days of meetings with a 6 am hike and an evening spent watching the sun set through the pine trees has me an infinitely happier traveler.
Rather than feel like a weekend is too short to do any real adventures, this summer I've given myself permission to treat every night outside like a big deal. Maybe someday I’ll leave everything behind for an epic adventure across America’s public lands, but for now, a few more weekends under the stars has made me a pretty happy (business) camper.