I never thought I would become a weekend warrior. In fact, I spent years dedicated to a pursuit of a lifestyle where “weekend warrior” does not apply. But here I am, working 40 hours a week and regulating much of my outdoor time to the way-too-short weekend.
But I’ve realized something: spending time outside is integral to my happiness. Spending every single day sitting behind a desk cranking on deadlines or sitting behind a steering wheel in rush hour traffic is just not the key to a positive life. So why do we confine ourselves to outdoor adventures solely on days when we don’t have to go to work the next morning?
I’ll admit, I totally have it made. I work just a stone’s throw away from Boulder’s mountainous treasure trove of trails, forest roads, and open spaces. I leave the office every day at 4:00, so I decided to see if I could indeed squeeze adventure into my weekday grind.
Spoiler alert: It was a success.
The first experiment with post-workday outdoor pursuits was technically on a Sunday, but since I still had to wake up at 6:00 AM the next day, I’m counting it. My lady pal Laurie and I decided to hike out to Lake Isabelle to catch the sunset, and hit the road towards Brainard Lake Recreation Area around 4:30 PM.
I immediately realized one of the perks of getting outdoors on a “school night” – the trails are empty. Anyone we encountered on the hike out to the lake were all headed in the opposite direction, back to the parking lot. What kind of maniacs start a hike at dinner time?
The end of the day is also when wildlife tends to come out for the evening, and I was thrilled to encounter a pair of moose wading through a creek right at the beginning of the trail.
Without any hardcore ambitions or stressful crowds sharing the trail, Laurie and I enjoyed the perfect evening balancing across logs, skipping across rock piles, and splashing in the freezing water of Lake Isabelle. By the time we had worked up a sweat, the air began to naturally cool down. We didn’t see another soul at the lake. I felt spoiled to have the whole landscape to myself.
After loading back in Laurie’s car and making the windy mountainous drive back into Boulder, we arrived home by 9:30. Just enough time to eat a snack, wash up, and get a good night’s rest before work the next day.
Aside from joyous moose moments and the usual bliss of soaking in fresh air, the benefits of my easy weeknight excursion were plentiful. I slept like a baby, and woke up feeling refreshed. My rage levels were lower on my commute to work the next morning. I felt more productive, more focused. And it was all because I decided to hit a trail, regardless of what day of the week it was.
It doesn’t have to be over the mountains or through the woods – you might be surprised how close your nearest trail is. It’s not always about epic views or hardcore conquests. Sometimes, being outside is just being outside. And it’s always good for you.
Do you ever hit the trails after work? What’s your favorite trail? Bonus points if you have a great spot around Boulder or Denver for me to explore one day after I leave the cubicle!
Disclosure: This sponsored post was written in partnership with REI. Need some trail inspiration? Check out their #EveryTrailConnects hashtag on Instagram.