If you love nature but end up staying indoors a lot, then you’re like me. As a little girl, I used to hike all the time with my dad, a classic mountain-man who could name the trees, flowers, and identify animal footprints in the mud. But now I’m older and need to get in touch with my own wild side. And what better way to do it than with a microadventure?
People like me often just don’t know what to do outside. Do we walk until our legs tire? Stare at flowers, possibly pick them? Listen to music on electronic devices? This is when microadventures come in. I want to go out with a goal in mind. I want to set my own rules.
So this adventure follows one simple rule: just go in a single direction.
Seek the edge of a place that seems wild to you. It could be anything from a swamp, mountainside, or abandoned farmland. I chose the 240-acre Guilford College Woods near my apartment. Then pick a direction and go – no trails, no maps, and no daddies that possess an inner compass.
Don’t worry! You’ll only go in a straight line. If you keep to that rule, getting lost shouldn’t be a problem. If something blocks your path, jump over, go around, or go under – just get back on the direction you set for yourself and keep going.
I take a full day for adventure. This is so if something goes wrong, you have an entire day set aside to figure the situation out. A Sunday worked best for me. Also, check the weather! Things can get crazy if heat grills you or rain pelts down and you’re not prepared.
For this journey I packed some supplies in a backpack. Selecting a beautiful 70° day, I packed a light jacket and sunglasses. A jacket isn’t just for wearing. Refashion one into a makeshift blanket to sit on if you decide to take a break. Water bottles are a must. If you’re a hat person, you can pack one like my boyfriend, Ryan, did. That’s right – this doesn’t have to be done alone. Take a friend, partner, or animal with you.
We also packed snacks, his banana chips and my gummy worms, along with sandwiches. Our phones came in case of emergencies. You don’t have to do that. I know my dad probably wouldn’t since technology can sometimes ruin the sense of escape from our urban confines.
Amusingly enough, we picked a direction that positioned us right next to the man-made trail for a time. Our first blockade was a river. I walked until I found the safest place to jump across and retraced my steps to where I left my trail. I had a lot of fallen trees to climb over and rivers to go around. With all these obstacles, you may feel the need to find something to help with balance. Don’t hesitate to grab a walking stick. Ryan did, though I think he did it because he likes to feel like a wizard. That’s fine, guys. You can be a wizard for your adventure.
The clothes you wear on your adventure have pros and cons. Long pants made me a little hot but protected from thorns. Ryan wore shorts to stay cooler, but the brush from our pathless trail scratched his legs.
On my adventure, we found beautiful little flowers sprinkled on the ground. Pollen covered my shoes. We heard an owl hooting in the daytime that I would’ve broken my rule to follow, but I ultimately kept to my original goal.
I’ll admit not everything was natural. We saw broken down shacks adorned with graffiti and golf balls and luggage caked in dirt. In a globalized world, even what seems natural isn’t native. I walked through forests blanketed with an invasive species of vine. While this disgusts some, it’s nice to appreciate their beauty too. After all, some say we are an invasive species.
My rule eventually became problematic. I ended up in people’s backyards. I’m not the sort of person to power through a neighborhood for my own sake. Dogs barked at us. I couldn’t exactly blame the dogs since we were some oddball students just popping out of the woods. Once I entered the yard I found a rather simplistic solution: pick another direction and go straight that way.
We moved outside the campus bubble and crossed a road to more woods. This lasted for a while, although the sights became more urban. We walked under some electrical lines, and eventually we found ourselves between a tall fence, someone’s house, and a backyard. We had to bail, diving back into the woods.
I felt like a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth between a limited sum of space. It’s unfortunate when nature can make someone feel fenced in. Then again, maybe the world is just not meant for straight lines. There may be a lesson that space is never infinite, and that eventually we always have to change direction.
When evening settled in, we retraced our numerous single directions back until we hit the campus lake where we started. We sat down and ate our sandwiches, flicking ants away from the sandwich cases. I realized I lost my sunglasses. I wish I could say how, but I honestly have no idea what happened to them. One moment they were safely on my head and then they were gone. We pulled back a distance to look for them but the situation ended up like finding a needle in a haystack. I eventually gave up. This goes to show that sometimes adventures have material causalities.
This adventure did wonders for my mood and sleep. The outside world can heal and soothe in ways you cannot tell until you are back indoors with a happy and tired body.
I challenge everyone to get out there and see how far in one direction they can get. Don’t be shy to add your own rules to the challenge as well!