Rethinking Outdoor Adventure Part One: Stay Local

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Hiking in the hills above my childhood home.
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Fields of lupin above my childhood home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a world where images of pro-athletes engaged in extreme forms of their sport dominate “outdoor” magazine covers, flashy, expensive gear vies for our hard-earned dollars, and travel magazines encourage expensive, far-flung “adventure tourism,” I am seeking to create a vision of outdoor adventure that is accessible to all.

I grew up in in the foot hills of the Washington Cascades and my parents introduced me to the surrounding natural environment from early childhood. I now live an hour from my home town. My commitment to North Central Washington runs deep. I love these mountains and rivers and lakes not just for their beauty, but because they raised me. They developed my love for nature, family, and exploration. They called me to live simply. They strengthened my body, mind, and heart. They are the foundation of my understanding of deep, conscious, local adventure.

In my opinion, we should first seek outdoor adventures near our place of residence. For you, that may mean getting to know the parks and rivers of your city or exploring the surrounding countryside or the natural sites in your state. It might mean gardening with native plants or planting a vegetable garden.Adventurers who flit from country to country may see the world, but they will never SEE the places they visit with the eyes of a local, who has a vested interest in the well-being of their surroundings. It is one thing to appreciate a beautiful vista, it is another to commit to loving and caring for a place and community.

When we change our perspective from “I must travel a long way from home to find adventure,” to “I will seek adventure where I am,” we can save limited petroleum resources and reduce pollution. I have made sacrifices in order to continue to live in close proximity to word-class outdoor recreation, but even so, I cannot access those world-class sites daily. On a regular basis I “make do” with walks on rural mountain roads, cross-country skiing, short paddling trips, picking wild fruit, and working in my vegetable garden. I desire to connect to this region more fully through studying ecology, painting, and writing.

What are your favorite local adventures? How do you stay connected to your natural environment on a regular basis?

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