One defining aspect of an interesting man is a cache of amazing tales. Someday, someone small will look up at you with admiration and you owe them a story worth telling. Living a life of adventure is not only possible, but necessary. If you're not doing it, today is a good day to start.
I woke up to the familiar feeling of a full bladder. Tonight, this meant I would have to venture out into the frigid cold to answer nature's call. Silently staring up at the bright moon, I swung lazily while savoring the contrast of an icy nose to the radiating warmth of goose down around the rest of me. I once read a story that your body takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep liquids in your body warm, so the survival side of my brain willed me to quickly unzip my bag and scamper a few feet into the dark woods to get rid of the hot chocolate and sips of Scotch from dinner.
I was out camping in November, at snow line, in a hammock. A wet October had brought early snowpack and the possibility of snowcamping, but warm weather had turned that hope into swollen creeks and unseasonably bright meadow grass. With gusts up to 40 mph and a 20% chance of rain, here really wasn't much reason I should have been swinging between those pine trees, but there I was – feeling incredibly alive.
As the morning sun finally broke over the East ridge I was already up, heating some coffee and wringing out a soggy sock that had fallen out when I migrated from hammock to tent to escape the steady rain. Did I mention I had a friend with me who was sleeping safely in the tent? Yep, in the wild always have a backup plan.
The rain lightly fell as we made our way back to civilization, with the world looking crisp and clean like only a rainstorm can make it. Sure we were a bit wet, a bit tired, but satisfied with an adventure well done. That, was my 24 hour adventure this month. I pulled out of my driveway about noon on Friday and was back by 11 the next day. My 24 hour adventures are a necessary part of a life well lived, and I highly encourage you to do the same. taking about a day per month to collect stories that are worth telling should be a part of every busy life. Here's how I started making them happen –
1. Make a list – Sit down with a friend and a pint and talk about the amazing things to see within a few hours of home. You'll be amazed at how quickly a respectable list comes together. I happen to live within a few hours of three national forests, one national park, and a dozen state parks, but there are always great things to do. For example, once I year I do an overnight brewery trip with friends.
2. Make a plan – If you don't put something on the schedule, it's not going to happen. Plan it out with friends and guard those trips. Start with once every few months on a long weekend, or near a holiday when schedules are more flexible.
3. Make it happen – Now get out there and make some memories. Really take the time to be present during the trip and make it a point to take it all in. I journal on my trips so I can look back and relive the adventure. For big accomplishments, bring home a stone or show ticket, or bottlecap to track the memory with something tangible, and put them somewhere safe so years from now those stories have an anchor to inspire from.
*Note: My November hammock adventure was planned with some basic safety in mind. I had extra layers, top notch gear, and an exit plan if needed. Don't tempt fate in the wild. The woods are very unforgiving so always carry the essential 10 and have a plan to stay safe, warm, and sheltered when nature tries to kill you.