The day we did all of the outdoor winter things … sort of (Outdoor Diary)

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Episode 370

What would happen if you spent a handful of hours attempting to do every available outdoor activity in a certain area?

That’s the question I asked before a Do All The Things day I just did with a friend. We loaded up our cars with outfit changes, equipment and nowhere near enough snacks, and headed into Hatcher Pass for a packed five hours of outdoor fun.

Here’s what happened.

Some of the good stuff:

[:35] The siren song of a challenge, even it’s just one day

[1:09] Can we even do all the things?!

[2:16] A tiny edit, and then we set forth

[2:26] (Don’t get me started on my people and these ski passes)

[2:52] Here starts the activity check-check-check

[5:17] A few takeaways from attempting to do all of the things

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

You know I can’t resist a challenge. You know I just can’t say no. And you know that becomes especially true when it comes to outdoor events mixed with my local community.

Which is why when former podcast guest Kierre Childers and her company Revel Treks and Tours put together an outdoor activity discovery day in Hatcher Pass, a recreation area not far from my home, I was all in.

As Kierre later told me after the fact — events like that are made for people like me. Am I mad about being predictable? I am not.

The original plan was a four hour outdoor activity crawl, hitting staged booths at a series of stops over about 20 miles. Local outdoor focused shops had free gear trials, safety training, warming fires and friendly faces staged at four separate stops. And they really did cover all the human-powered outdoor things a person can do up in the pass.

And we planned to hit every single one, trying everything available. See Amy fat bike! See Amy ski! See Amy snowboard! See Amy learn about avalanches!

But then of course, then — plot twist. After a week or two of very warm temperatures, up into the 40s, plus rain that is very bad for preserving things that happen on snow, Alaska brought us a very nice storm on the discovery day. Bonanza!

But of course, NOT a bonanza if you’re sending a bunch of people driving up a snowy, unplowed pass and you dont want them discovery how to get in a car crash or end up in a ditch. That would not be a good discovery.

And so the event got an edit — all activities relocated to an area at the base of the pass and the downhill ski area with the lift.

I do not enjoy a change to an epic plan. But I did not want to end up in a ditch either, so I got it. And so we edited the crawl, obviously, and headed out for a good time.

After shoving my kids out of the car at the downhill ski area so they can use the passes I bought them because – sidenote – so help me God I am not buying passes and then letting my people simply not use them, my friend Rachel and I headed up the road to unsanctioned discovery day stop for what turned out to be a fairly exhausting cross country ski on the ungroomed trail at Gold Mint.

Cross country skiing — check.

We the journey back to Skeetawk, the downhill area, where I strapped on the snowboard for a run, then switched to downhill skis for two more runs. We also paused at the Avalanche Center’s table to learn about avalanche beacons.

Snowboarding – check. Downhill skiing – check. Avalanche education – check.

At this point we were surprised to see that it was already 1 p.m., which was problematic because all other activities – and there were a lot — were a ways down the road, and they were going away in an hour. Yikes. So we packed up my kids and crawled I mean CRAWLED down the road behind someone whose primary discovery day activity appeared to be tapping their break and driving 20 miles per hour.

So — following poor drivers — check. Yes, this is a Hatcher Pass activity.

At the next recreation area, Government Peak, we rapidly checked off a series of things. The local ski shop had HOK skis for us to try. These were explained to me as a mix between a ski and a snowshoe, with sticky skins on the bottom that make it easy to go up hill and very slow to go down. You wear them with your normal boots. And apparently people like them more than snowshoes.

So, we strapped those on and went wandering up a hill through some very deep powder. Uphill? Semi successful. Downhill? Well. Let’s just say I did my normal thing, collapsed in deep powder, flailed for awhile trying to stand up and finally was rescued by Rachel. So, no we do not find them superior to snowshoes but it was fun to try.

Hok skis — check. Spectacular falling – check.

We crossed the parking lot to the sledding hill, and took a ride down on some disks.

Sledding – check

Next, we grabbed some fat bikes and headed up the trail. And I do mean up. I have used a fat bike one other time, so I had to learn the art of cycling on groomed but fairly soft snow, using the gears effectively and not simply watching the wheel spin under me on the trail. I definitely broke a sweat doing that.

Fat biking – check!

By this point we had defied the constraints of time and space and done three activities in about 50 minutes. And of course the booths were now packing up, so we quickly cruised through and grabbed some hot chocolate — check. And said hello to friends – check.

Finally, we collapsed because yes, doing all the things makes you tired, in the chalet for some kombucha with a friend — being tired — check. And decided that we in fact did not want to do ALL the things, which meant calling it a day without snowshoeing or skate skiing. And yes I am totally fine with that.

So here’s my takeaways. Doing all the things? Fun! Trying new outdoor activities? Worth it. Spending a snowy day with friends and community? Delightful. Bolting through an array of outdoor activities that required a ton of packing, because when you’re going to do many types of skiing you’re going to need many types of skis? Complicated but great, plus now I know where all of that stuff is.

But four hours? Not nearly long enough for all the things, plus driving between the things, plus doing the things long enough to do more than get the tiniest taste of them. And doing all the things? Whew exhausting. We dragged ourselves home.

So maybe next time instead of saying we’re going to do all the things, we should set out to experience all the things, or test all the things.

Another takeaway? While trying the things I don’t own equipment – HOK skiing and fat biking – was a really fun addition to the day, you and I could totally could do this day without an organized event and have a great time doing it. And obviously you don’t need to do a winter day. What about finding a way to taste many, or some or even all of things in whatever outdoor space you have?

Just another way to shake-up that outdoor time. And you know I like that.

You can see a photo from my all the things day on humans outside on Facebook and instagram. And I want to see photos of whatever it is you’ve got going on. Tag me with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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