A hazard of moving so often is that I have to start over with outdoors buddies. In my twenties this was ridiculously easy. I lived in bunkhouses right in National Parks, so an unending supply of like-minded people were available. You could always find someone up for a trip to the hot springs, an off-trail bushwhack to a secret lake, or a crazy trail run. The older I get, though, the harder quality adventure companions are to find. In many ways, it reminds me of the Shallow Dating Pool I used to have to wade in (thank goodness that’s over).
Maybe it’s because I’m old, but many people my age seem to have given up. Not everybody, that’s for sure, and there are plenty of people decades older than me who are still out there with the hammer down. But the pickings are slim, folks, especially in a small town. We don’t have hiking clubs and trail running groups here. You have to find your adventure buddies the old school way, through others, by stalking them on the trails, or doing a mass call for participants and hoping someone takes you up on it. Many of my friends here just aren’t into it. They have kids, or they really want to hang out at the lake, or they have other obligations. It’s usually not hard to rustle someone up for an hour walk, but more than that? It takes work.
The people around here seem to fall in a few categories:
The Fast and Furious, those who put the previously mentioned hammer down every. single. time. Being outdoors is a workout for them, and they are intent on that. Climb one mountain? Not enough! Must climb ten! A thirty-mile run is not outside the realm of possibility. I like the fast and furious types, but sometimes I am looking for companionship as well, because I work alone all day. Which brings me to…
The Goodtime Gals, who are up for an adventure but seriously underestimate their fitness. They commit to something that is difficult to back out of, and you are forced to watch as they self-destruct. I need to learn to suggest a shorter trip to them, because I really do like them and admire their spontaneous natures.
The Lake Ladies, who possess varying degrees of adventure in their souls, but really yearn to be hanging at the lake with their paddleboards and a cooler of beers. I’ve tried to hang with the lake ladies, but alas, I just can’t sit that long. Plus, most of them have kids, and I don’t, and I just can’t relate. (Disclaimer: Don’t hate! There’s nothing wrong with kids! Kids are great! They just never were in my life plan for a reason.)
The Instagram Addicts. If it isn’t on social media, it didn’t happen. They carry their phones to the top of summits to document while they are there. They post endless pictures of the same trip on Facebook, with sweeping prose about how hard it was, how epic, how long. If I sound like I don’t really like them…sorry, I don’t. I like seeing people’s pictures, but not to excess, and I think that phones can be left at home.
The Overbooked Adventurer, who otherwise is a great buddy in the outdoors, except that she has to be back by a certain time to do something important, and can we leave at a different time because of some other reason, and come to think of it, I really can’t go at all, because I have to do x and x. Need I say more?
I know that good outdoors buddies are out there, though, and so I keep looking. This weekend I’m heading off with a couple of potential prospects, and in three weeks I start on a 300 mile journey with someone I really don’t know all that well. Will it work out? Who knows. In the meantime, if you have some good outdoors companions, hang on to them! You are luckier than you know.