How To Enjoy The Great Outdoors
Poet Diane Ackerman once wrote, “The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day…”
… “It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.”
We adore her enthusiasm for the adventure of living and can’t help but vouch for it in every way we can. Being outside––high in the mountains, deep in a desert, by the river or far at sea––has an incomparable effect on the senses whilst also being the ultimate teacher of nature’s big lessons. If you haven’t grown up spending quality time outdoors, don’t let the prospect daunt you in the present. Instead, follow our tips to set you off on your next grand escape in the wild:
01. Disconnect wholeheartedly
Learning to enjoy the outdoors means appreciating it for what it is. It’s quite likely you’re getting out of town to flee the urban grind so do it right and make the most of it. Leave the iPad at home. Turn off the GPS and grab a printed map. Tune out the honk of traffic and tune into the rustling of leaves and birds chirping. Abort the quest for WiFi as you let yourself get lost in a pure state of just being.
02. Prepare well & in advance
Let’s just say the time to test drive your outdoor gear is way before you’re actually outdoors. Finding out something doesn’t fit or work while you’re on the move isn’t the kind of adventure you’re looking for. Instead, break in your hiking boots, practice pitching your new tent in a nearby park, and cook a meal on the campstove before you head out.
A crucial part of the pre-game research is planning your route, the hourly weather forecast and considering how these conditions might affect the terrain. Consult a map, check Google Earth, call local park ranger/tourism/outfitter offices to inquire, or spend a couple hours perusing online forums and websites.
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03. Watch wildlife & recreate responsibly
The opportunity to see birds and animals in the wild is unique yet it’s important to remember your personal safety. Keeping a safe and respectful distance from animals means no touching, no feeding, and no harassing. No expensive equipment is necessary to enjoy wildlife watching: all you really need is a good field guide for birding or butterflies and a decent pair of binoculars, smartphone, or camera––but even those aren’t vital. Being out and about is enough.
- Be aware of your surroundings and what animals may be present that could pose a threat in your environment.
- Never feed wild animals, even squirrels or chipmunks. Keep them wild and don’t risk attracting predators.
- If you are camping, keep the area clean: wash all cooking and eating utensils after use and store leftover food in airtight containers.
- Report any wildlife attacks to the local authorities.
- Practise “leave no trace” principles and educate yourself about the native flora, fauna, and conservation efforts.
04. Bring along some happy campers!
While it can be incredibly rejuvenating to fly solo, unless you’re super experienced, being alone in the outdoors can be intimidating. You’ll amaze yourself at how much more you observe with a friend, how much more you appreciate having another pair of eyes and a fresh perspective, and how glorious discovering it all can be with a loved one.
Above all, the more people we can convince to cherish the outdoors, the higher chances we have of preserving it for generations to come.