Adventurers bring a buffet of perspectives to the proverbial mixing pot of people, from folks who live for sunshine and snorkeling to those who count down the days each autumn until the first signs of winter. While some explorations require a harness and others call for kayaks, outdoor enthusiasts share a few things we can all appreciate no matter what our adventure of choice.
I posed a question on Twitter yesterday, asking adventurers what they were most thankful for, and the answers all fit on the list of things that I’m grateful for too. From backcountry backpackers in Colorado and hikers from Arizona to climbing surfers in Florida and national forest officials in Wyoming, we have so much to be thankful for when it comes to our journeys in the outdoors.
Fresh Air and Sunshine
Not every adventurer is outwardly into hugging trees, but we all deeply respect and appreciate every molecule of nature. From thick pine forests to rocky tidal pools, the outdoors offers so many breath-taking landscapes, recreational opportunities, idyllic moments of pure bliss, and beautiful places where we can create adventure. I’m personally most thankful for all the details of nature: the warmth of sunshine on your skin on a chilly day, tiny little ferns and berries and bugs, how starry the sky gets the deeper you venture into the backcountry, and the prideful feeling you get after caking your boots with mud.
I love a good solo hike, but most of the time, I really enjoy the company of a good companion when I’m exploring outside. Whether your trail partner is your spouse, best friend, sibling, or random pal you met through social media, give thanks to the people who are always down for shenanigans in the woods and challenging experiences outdoors. Be thankful for everyone in your life who is down to hit the trail even when it’s 90º outside, shiver all night in a tent during snowstorms, share a beer over a campfire, spot you when you’re climbing highballs, and accompany you while you’re pushing your limits and trying new things.
I love what Jillian Bejtlich said about who she’s thankful for: “Corny, but I’m thankful for my husband. In our vows, we promised to be each others outdoor partners. And he’s exactly that!” Seriously, her wedding vows included a promise to always be each other’s belay partners – perfection.
The No-Service Zone
No matter how much you love Instagramming pictures of mountain peaks, there’s something so satisfying about that moment when you’ve ventured so far into the wilderness that you suddenly lose all service and become completely disconnected from everything that doesn’t involve enjoying the moment. You can forget about emails and deadlines and just focus entirely on adventure.
Four Legged Companions
Dogs who get outdoors are my favorite – and I’m not just saying that because I just adopted the cutest pup in the history of pups who is totally going to be the best crag/trail dog ever. I’ve always been a fan of four-legged friends. Dogs make wonderful hiking partners, tent mates, campsite guardians, and all-around awesome companions for adventuring. A dog is always willing to keep trudging to the next peak, grateful when you share a sliver of your beef jerky, worried about your safety while you’re climbing, and generous when it comes to providing body heat in a sleeping bag.
Rangers and Volunteers
Whenever I visit a national park, my first stop is to the visitors center – I always get a stamp for my collection, and chat for a bit with the folks who help run the park. Rangers have always been a subject of my admiration. They’ve jump-started my car afterhours after getting back from a backpacking trip, scurried outside with me to catch whales, and helped me choose the best trails. My respect extends to everyone who works in the outdoors, whether professionally like Kristie from An Appetite for Adventure, who works in the Shoshone National Forest, or the folks from the Southeaster Climbers Coalition who organize trail days to help maintain access to climbing areas. Amanda Renner said it best – she’s thankful “for the preserved land we have to explore and the people who fight to keep it protected.”
This Thanksgiving while you’re stuffing your face with fried turkey and mashed potatoes, take a moment to reflect on everything you have to be thankful for as an adventurer. I appreciate so deeply that no matter what is going on in my life or in the world, I can always make a quick trip to the nearest slice of nature and enjoy the simplicity and purity of the outdoors.