Adventure Starts in the Mind. How to Start Getting Outdoors More!
I looked up at the brilliant green ferns clinging to the canyon walls. Steam swirled off my wetsuit as I stood in one of Australia's most impressive canyons. It had taken a lot to get there. Doubt, nervousness and a fear of the unknown challenged me. It took one full year to make it happen. My patience had paid off. I was on a adventure, and in every sense of the word!
The word ‘adventure’ is thrown around frequently these days. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, it just means different things to different people.
What I talk about here on The Vertical Adventurer website is the outdoor kind of adventure. The one that starts when you step out your door and make it your days mission to go outside and see or do something new. Getting out of your comfort zone is good for you after all. It can just be a short hike if you’ve never done it before. Or it can be a gruelling climb on a high summit if you are experienced enough.
It doesn’t matter. You are outside and having an adventure. That's what counts.
IT ALL STARTS WITH THE MINDSET
Learning to get outside isn’t easy for everyone. It wasn’t for me. I'm not naturally athletic or 'outdoor' skilled. I don't even have the persistence to climb high grades or hike massive trails.
In short- I'm unfit, average, and plagued with doubt in my abilities compared to all the outdoor people I look up to.
But that can be a strength.
If you lack the physical attributes for epic adventures, you make up for it in different ways. How so?
Dreaming about where you’d rather be is a great sign that you need to go ahead and do it. You don’t need to quit your job or life, you just need to get focused on making a step in the right direction.
You don’t have to be the best at it either! Its OK to be average. You might just want to do short hikes, not month long journeys. Completely fine, and I'll even join you, both of us huffing and puffing all the way!
While many might be ultra focused on one particular sport and achieving the absolute best, us mediocre folk can become ‘jack of all trades’.
And this is a great thing!
Starting out can be hard. There's all those people who have been doing it, like, forever, blasting past you on trails or climbing on credit card width rock holds, but they often run into slumps of being bored or losing motivation.
By dabbling in as many things as we fancy, we spread the interest and motivation net wide, so to speak. And that never runs out!
Staying keen for the next opportunity is the key for getting outdoors regularly. Inspiration is the other.
Whether you can commit to each weekend or just one a month, the important thing is not stopping. Commit and challenge yourself in whatever way you want, and then stick at it.
Going on an outdoor adventure doesn't start when you are driving there, it started long before, in your mind. A little inspiration, a splash of commitment and a peppering of imagination, and before you know it, your own grand adventure!
PRACTICAL ADVENTURING TIPS to start
So you want to get outside? Great! Where to start?
Before you have even left your door you can do many things to ensure you have an adventure this coming weekend. Here are some:
► Find inspiration
Cliched ‘inspirational’ posts aside, find a picture or story that motivates you. Blogging has allowed thousands to share little stories of their adventures- and they aren’t athletes either! Read them!
Instagram has millions of photos to trawl your salivating wanderlust through. Save a picture of something local you want to see. Then look at it all the time. Slap yourself if you aren’t making progress to getting there each day or week.
It’s also important to be realistic when starting out.
You aren’t going to be rushing off to Antarctica on some expedition. I had very little idea of the sport of canyoning when I saw a photo in National Geographic about ‘Claustral Canyon’, which was about 12 hours drive south of where I lived. I made it my goal to be there in one years time. Finding out what skills, gear and knowledge I needed, I made it happen, organised the trip, and had an amazing adventure there.
And it all started with a picture I saw in some magazine.
► Find partners in adventure
Often times, people give up when they can’t find others to do adventures with. I know I almost did. Most of the time, you need to have some patience and spend a bit of time looking around until it all ‘clicks’.
Here are some great places to start:
Meetup.com: This is a post I wrote about it. Meetup is FREE and the best way I found others to do stuff with.
Facebook groups: In 2016/2017, Facebook groups really kicked off a lot more and you will find groups for all sorts of activities. Just type your activity into the Facebook search and see what comes up!
Clubs: Old as they are strong, the established clubs for different sports are always looking to build their member base. Just go along and meet the people there.
► Keep developing skills
It’s important to keep learning in the outdoors. Weather, gear, fitness, techniques. It can all be a bit much at first. But just stay with it and you will slowly learn it all, bit by bit.
For major adventurous stuff, like climbing, canyoning or alpine skills, you can do a course or befriend a more experienced person to show you. For hiking, just get started on easy trails and you will soon learn all there is.
Really, there is no other way to do it. Commit and plan your next free day to get outdoors and take a walk if you are just starting, or plan something a little more adventurous if you have some experience under your belt.
And once you start, you'll become addicted to the beautiful places out there. It’s hard not to!