Hit the Trails and Become a Weekday Warrior

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?

The outdoors are in reach any day of the week.IMG_0497

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?IMG_0500IMG_0401

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.IMG_0469 IMG_0440

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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.IMG_0505

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.

Comments

  1. says

    Ah great post + topic! When I worked full time down in (gasp) Los Angeles, those evening hikes were a life saver. While not *technically* allowed, the husband and I would do a lot of dinner time hikes that would result in us finishing after sunset (you’re sort of not suppose to be out there after dark). It was the best, because we’d just bring headlamps, and enjoy sunset + the surreal Los Angeles lights as seen from the mountains. Totally saved me from hating life mid-week with all that traffic…

    • says

      I could never imagine living in LA and wanting to be outdoors all the time – it just doesn’t fully make sense to me! Although, I guess modernhiker.com makes a pretty good case for LA hiking. Maybe… That traffic though!

      • says

        I totally agree with you about LA! The traffic is BAD, so so bad. Luckily I moved to Oregon and it’s lovely and wonderful here. That being said, LA is surrounded by amazing mountain peaks and desert places to explore, which is totally unexpected. I guess the lesson being: In most cases, you can always find something to do even if you work full time and live in LA :)

  2. says

    Couldn’t agree more about getting out during the weekday! Indeed, while we were driving through the American West these past few months, we tried to plan our outdoorsy visits solely for the weekday in order to avoid the heavy crowds on the weekend, and then spent our time in coffee shops or whatever on the weekend. Way better like that!

  3. George says

    Some people enjoy hitting the gym after work. It’s healthy and provides most of the benefits you describe EXCEPT it’s not outdoors. Exercising while enjoying nature is the best experience.

    I enjoy paddling on the intracoastal in Fort Lauderdale after work. Even going by the same places is always different – the tides, sky, and sea life I plus the occasional iguana makes each kayak journey different. And the best part of after-work outdoor activities – the sunsets!

  4. Jenny says

    Excellent post and point! After a long summer off from teaching I couldn’t stand the thought of going a whole week without trails. So I designated Tuesday as “science night” for myself and my 2 and 6 year olds aka get on a trail somewhere and poke around, splash in a creek, whatever. I trail run on Thursday and Sunday so I’m out there a lot but wanted them to be too. Love it so far. Can’t help with boulder but Athens Georgia is amazing.

  5. says

    I was just listening to a podcast with Alastair Humphreys and his idea of microadventures. I live about 20 miles from great Arizona desert and I have dedicated some after work time to hitting the trails! Nice post, thank you.

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