Goooood Morning Adventurers! It has come to my attention that Alastair Humphreys has put a name to this way of life we have been trying to encourage--Microadventures! You don't have to spend months or weeks planning your next outing. If you prepare yourself once, you can get out as often as you like.
We're not talking about going across country overnight when you need to get to work in the morning--but we are talking about spending a night under the stars, in the woods, or (if you are not in south Florida) a mountain top. Alastair has done a fantastic job or explaining what you need for your microadventure , so I will refer you to him to learn more. What I will do is share some easy local experiences you may find useful.
Experience is the best teacher. You will learn the what pieces of gear you will never leave home without--and what comfort items are burdensome to carry. You can start off will short outings of a few hours, and work your way in to an easy overnight trip. These experiences will help you learn things like: how hot it gets here in November, and how much of this state seems to be underwater this time of year. Maybe it is worth throwing a set of waders or hiking sandals in your kit? Kayaking with kids, or dogs? Wear a PFD! it is soo much easier to collect a flailing person in the water when you don't have to think about drowning yourself. Beyond that, it's just good practice. I need to take a brief moment to remind you of one of the golden rules of being in the outdoors:
I want you to leave leave a note and map with where you are going and when you will be back (at the very least send a text to someone). We've all hear about Aron's experience, 127 hours. On a much smaller scale, last week a buddy went out for a bike ride and suffered a Tib-Fib break (lower leg catastrophic damage). He was miles in to a bike trail with no means of communication, and was extremely lucky some other people were on that trail to find him. Sometimes accidents happen, we just have to prepare according to our exposure.
Back to the fun stuff.
I would argue that the your best opportunity to enrich your outdoor ventures is to become familiar with your nearest national park, state park, natural area, or wilderness area. In short, there is unaltered land near you that you have permission to access somewhere near by. For some of us that is in our back yard, for others that may be an hour drive that is well worth the effort. Here you will have the opportunity to familiarize your self with your senses. Basic things like your sense of direction will improve even in one day if you notice things like the direction of shadows and what direction plants are growing. These are things that you may not notice if you don't allow yourself to slow down and take in your surroundings. These are bonus feel good experiences you will take away; if you find yourself truly fascinated with navigation you can spend a lifetime mastering that skill. There are so many skills that we have not used in our indoor lives--like how to build a camp fire, or paddle a canoe. Brett McKay has interviewed experts of these lost skills to give us insight of what we have forgotten and more importantly, how to regain these skills. There is a wealth of information on his Art of Manliness Blog and Podcast, I encourage you to dive in to his works. You don't know, what you don't know.
With some new skills to practice and a place to practice them you can head out on your microadventures! Go some where new...it does not have to be far, far away in a distant place. Follow that thin blue line on the map and see what is on that section of river. I might utilize google earth or satellite view on google maps to get an idea of how passable the waterway is before setting out. For example, this past Sunday we took the dogs out on kayaks in the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter and followed a fork of the river that we have never paddled before. The waterway offered us an almost complete loop back to where we put in. The "almost complete" part was a challenge, we came though a section that had clearly not been passes since Hurricane Irma and we got to break our way through spider webs, down branches, and over logs. Finally, we realized there was no going further--but we had found a good spot to beach the kayaks for retrieval with the car. We learned a great deal about how the waterways connect, and pass through town. We found a few places the Mullet (bait fish) like to hang out. A bunch of spots that look ripe for Snook fishing, and we learned that there is a big iguana with red spikes on it's back that swims the Loxahatchee river in Jupiter. Godzilla jokes and references will now forever be connected to one particular beach on the river.
On a different Sunday adventure we took the dogs for a walk along some of the old roads in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. I will admit, I enjoy riding the Club Scrub mountain bike trails--ALOT. So it was a nice change of pace to take the family for a hike on the old roads that run through this same section of the park. (Keep fido on leash when you go out here...bikes, gators, and snakes all look like a fun toy to our dogs) These roads and buildings are remnants of the WWII Camp Murphy Base where our troops learned how to operate radar surveillance and much more! If history is not your thing, the scenery is worth the effort. This particular hike also allows you to see people riding the awesome bike trails at JDSP. I will discourage you from walking the bike trails (you will get yourself and a cyclist hurt) but you can get a feel for how much fun the trails are from the road. If you feel like you want to give the mountain bike trails a try you can give us a call to make a reservation for us to bring you a rental mountain bike and helmet.
If you've never ridden a bike off road, or it has been a longtime you will get a kick out of riding our local single track trails. Take it slow, stop if you are not sure you can navigate an obstacle and SMILE! You will cover more ground on a bike, and there is just something about being on a bike that makes you smile. If you have not been on a bike in some time and do not trust your balance well enough to go off road, there are great paved pathways in the park to check out as well. Riverbend Park in Jupiter is also a Gorgeous and shady place to ride a bicycle. Riverbend offers amazing South Florida experiences about 90 seconds off of I-95! The pathway is nice and wide for easy bike riding, and the waterways are great for kayaking. Riverbend is also home to Battlefield Park. This is one more opportunity to learn about the relatively recent history of this area. Once again these are all bonus experiences to the taking the stunning beauty of South Florida.
These are just a few resources and ideas to get you working on your next microadventure. You don't have to put a ton of effort in to getting out there...you just need to grab your adventure kit and go!
Now get to it. We hope you see you out there!