April 10, 2017

The Joys of Do-It-Yourself Adventures

While organized events are great, sometimes the predefined options just don’t quite fit your style. Sometimes you just want to get out there and forge your own path. That’s what do-it-yourself adventures are all about: writing your own rules for your own experience (maybe making some of it up along the way, we won’t judge), and doing something different. But knowing where to start, or how to narrow it down, can be a tricky decision.

One of the best ways to start, especially for those that love to be active in the outdoors, is to have a look at what’s been done before. Here, we’ve put together a list of six unique possibilities to inspire your next adventure.

OPTION 1: GET INSPIRED BY LANDSCAPES

Running under a formation Arches National Park

The arches in Utah are among the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Ryan Smith

Bill Sycalik used to be a management consultant in New York and Washington DC. Now, he is a plant-based, certified running coach on a mission to run a marathon in all 59 National Parks across the U.S. as part of the National Parks Marathon Project. His project sprung from being tired of the city life and wanting for a unique way to experience the beauty of our national park system. This adventure is perfect for anyone considering something similar or simply looking for some DIY adventure inspiration because he’s invited everyone to join him in his quest. You can hop on a marathon run with Bill at any point, which might be just what you need to kick start your own version.

OPTION 2: GO NICHE OR SUPER LOCAL

Ry Glover Running the Gum Springs Trail

Ry Glover running the Gum Springs Trail on the 30th day. Perry Smyre

There are plenty of high-profile ways to structure a DIY adventure, but there are just as many, if not more, smaller ways to accomplish the same thing in your own backyard. One of the editors at RootsRated Media took to the Gum Springs Trail, one of the toughest in Chattanooga, every day for 30 days. How did he describe it afterward? "No, it wasn’t some epic mountaineering feat. But it was something a little different than the everyday gym routine or 5 o’clock happy hour. Something that at the very least might stand out as a small, notable footnote in a life that’s all-too-often consumed with forgettable day-to-day details."

If running isn’t for you, trying hiking or biking your favorite trail for 30 days in a row. The important thing is to consider what’s immediately available to you and go from there. One outdoor adventurer based in Minnesota has plans to surf Lake Superior at least five times next winter—for her, it’s challenging, an accomplishment to feel good about, and entirely geographically accessible.

OPTION 3: CONSIDER WHO YOU DO IT WITH (OR WITHOUT)

Sometimes the goal of an adventure is to just to do something a different, and one way to do this is to switch up who you do (or don’t) tend to explore the outdoors with. If you often travel with the same person, consider joining a club to meet new people, or try going solo. This writer struck out on her own for a month and had a ball, and we all know the Cheryl Strayed and Wild story, which serves up plenty of inspiration. If you usually go solo, try joining a weekly running group or going for a hike with a friend—you never know what you might discover.

OPTION 4: FOCUS ON LESS VS. MORE

Another beautiful day without a worry - landscape

A DIY adventure doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Pierce Martin

For the "less is more" types (or those aspiring to be), you can always challenge yourself to shed some of what you need. This lady got minimal in all kinds of ways, from her wardrobe to her inbox. Take it to the next level by embarking on a backpacking trip—the epitome of minimalism. When all you have is the bag on your back, you’ll have to cut down to the necessities and only bring what you absolutely need, whether you’re going on a tour of Southeast Asia, a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, or an overnight trip to a particularly beautiful spot in a national forest.

OPTION 5: RECONNECT RATHER THAN CREATE

Finally, reconnecting with something familiar and focusing on deepening your connection with something that already exists in your life is another way to spin a DIY adventure. Consider walking more or even just being more deliberate about walking when you are doing it, rather than rushing from A to B. If you bike to work, try to really enjoy your daily commute in a more purposeful way, maybe by leaving a little earlier so you can take your time or go for a loop around the lake before going into the office. An adventure into mindfulness is certainly an adventure nonetheless.