2 Important Outdoor Lessons I Took From This Year

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It’s good to take a beat, think about the past few seasons and decide with intention how you want to go forward. My preferred method for memory? Photo scrolling.

And so I dove into some memories of outdoor time from the past year, and when I was done I had found two important outdoor lessons that I can take with me to make my future choices and adventures that much better.

… And they can help you, too.

Listen now!

Some of the good stuff:

[:35] Taking a cruise through old photos

[1:05] A few lessons from the past year

[2:03] The first lesson

[2:49] Lesson, the second

[4:26] My hope for you

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

I spent some time recently cruising through photos from the last year. You know I take a photo of my outside time every single day, so that’s a lot of outdoor photos featuring a whole parade of weather, seasons, activities, family and friends.

It’s also a lot of reminders of some pretty incredible times in gorgeous places, of how challenging some of those adventures were, the effort they took, or the decisions I had to make to go outside and do the things even though the weather was awful or I straight up didn’t feel like it.

As I look back on all of these photos — the mountain hikes I did in pouring rain so I could be ready for our disastrous Grand Canyon trip, the miles I traveled in Alaska on an incredible opportunity of a work assignment helping author a Lonely Planet guide, the hours skiing and running, the visits from friends, the travels out of state, the moments simply sitting on my deck in the not that warm sun or, alternatively, making the most of the sun when it did come out during what really was a very wet summer — I’m left with two really important lessons that I need to remember going into the new year and that might help you, too.

First, I am reminded of the importance of taking the time.

Time has always been the most valuable thing to me. For as long as I can remember, I’m talking back in my pre-teen years, I have been beset by the idea that I only have so much time and I really can’t afford to waste a drop of it. But as I’ve learned the value of spending time outside, I’ve also learned how important it is to take the time to go outside, to have the adventure, to do the inconvenient seeming thing and have a little fun — and that I never, ever regret it.

Often, taking the time is a matter of scheduling. Taking the time means putting the outdoor thing on my calendar, setting aside the hours and doing it regardless of the weather. It means letting nothing get in my way, including my own perception that things are important or can’t wait. Things are really rarely THAT important and they almost always can wait.

Let’s remember to take the time. I know we won’t regret it.

Next, they reminded me of the power of deciding that you’re going to have fun regardless of circumstance…. And by circumstance, I 100% just mean “weather.”

In the beginning of some summer seasons I proclaim a theme — for example, there was 2020, the summer of adventure. There was 2018, the summer of fun. You get the idea. Going into the summer of 2023 we had a handful of nice days, and then it started raining… a lot. And while I didn’t want to give up, I know I can’t control the weather… and I had the sneaking suspicion that rainy was just how it was gonna be. On our first camping trip of the year, early in the season but on a day that had been warm and wonderful the year before, it was somewhere around 45 degrees and raining.

I could see in that moment that, for at least that trip, having fun was going to have to be a decision. And so I told my family that it was about to be the “summer we had fun anyway.”

Rain or shine, wind, cold, bugs, whatever — we are going to have fun anyway because we decided we could and would. We were going to use the outdoor gear we owned, we were going to pack hats and gloves and boots when we wanted to be able to leave them home, and we were going to go out and do the things anyway.

In the end, the weather really didn’t improve. But you bet we had fun anyway — and on the days that it WAS nice outside, you better believe we were ready for it.

And I really did have a great time over the summer not just in spite of the rain, but in some ways because of it. Some of my most memorable outdoor adventures were in weather that in the past might have kept me home or at least tucked in the tent. But no — it was the summer we had fun anyway, and because I had to decided it in advance, it really was.

Make up your mind to enjoy what comes, and in most circumstances enjoying it will follow.

I’m spending this end of season time enjoying my family, despite frosty temperatures. We’ve got the warmth of each other, the light of friends, plenty of layers and mind over matter.

You can see photos of my daily outdoor time, and if you scroll back you’ll see plenty from the summer we had fun anyway on Humans outside Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see your photos, too. Share them with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there!

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