Micro-Adventure Primer

"Adventure is a state of mind, a spirit of trying something new and leaving your comfort zone. It's about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness, and curiosity." - Alastair Humphreys

A Quick Escape From The 9-5

Micro-adventures are close to home, easy to plan, and maximize the core ideas of what an adventure is all about.

We don't need to travel far and away to experience an adventure. There are so many opportunities for adventure within an hour drive from home. Living the adventure life is as much about quantity as it is about quality. Find the right balance and we are on our way.

Don't get so caught up in the planning stage (i.e. getting permits and campsites and all the logistics), gear acquisition, and all the other stuff, that it becomes so overwhelming that we end up pushing back the date so often that we eventually cancel the adventure. Or if we do go through with it, we are more than happy to postpone the next adventure for a date further down the road to allow for more planning. Eventually, we trade the adventure life for something that is a lot less of a hassle.

Try new things as much as possible. It will expand our overall skill set and learning something new is an adventure in and of itself. 

Find a fun and exciting destination, like a waterfall, water slide, or a cave, then make the adventure just getting there (and getting back). 

And remember, an integral part of any adventure is the unknown (eg the possibility of getting a little lost). So don't over plan!

Some Core Adventure Sports

Rock Climbing - Rock climbing by itself can be fun and challenging, but also the skills we learn and the confidence we acquire can be applied to so many other adventurous activities that it is truly a indispensable skill. Plus, we can start out with just a visit to your local climbing gym.

Mountainbiking - A mountain bike is what I would like to call a self-contained, human-powered adventure machine. Whatever our skill level is, we can always find moments where we can push ourselves outside our comfort zone, and with just a tap of the brakes, we are right back inside it. Warning - this can get addicting!

Bikepacking - It's a lot like backpacking except your bike carries the load and we can cover a lot more ground in a day. This may also lead to - Kayak-packing and even SUPpacking.

Basic micro ideas - to build your own adventure from:
  • Swim across an alpine lake - be sure you can handle the distance and/or the cold before getting yourself into trouble.
  • Jump off a cliff - making sure the water's deep enough.
  • Swim down a river.
  • Find a river source.
  • Sleep wild under the stars - a tent is not always needed.
  • Climb a mountain - there are some incredible 14'ers within a half days drive of San Diego (Mt. Langley is incredibly beautiful and starts at over 10,000').
  • Paddle to a remote beach.
  • Explore a cave or a slot canyon.
  • Build a shelter, or a raft, or both.
  • Check out a meteor shower (Perseid's - August, Geminid's - December)
  • Core Skills to consider learning:
  • Rappelling
  • Basic knowledge of knots
  • CPR and first aid.
  • Rock climbing
  • Navigation/Orienteering

Gear to consider owning:
  • Climbing harness, shoes, and belay device - now you are ready to rock climb, canyoneer, or just rappel off something.
  • Wetsuit - a 4/3 can get you out surfing in cold water and can suffice for most canyoneering adventures. 5 mil booties are extremely valuable as well.
  • Good hiking boots or trail runners (personally, I like to wear these for all but the most serious hikes) - regular shoes just won't cut it for almost any kind of hike.
  • Helmet or helmets - for climbing/canyoneering, biking, snowboarding, etc...
  • Sleeping bag, pad, and tent/bivy - when I'm grabbing my stuff, it's these three that I make sure I have (missing anything else can be easily worked around).
  • Gear to have around you, or on you, for any situation or impromptu adventure:
  • Headlamp
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Small first aid kit (almost pocket-sized)
Important note - please don't let your lack of the above gear keep you from any micro-adventure (except the headlamp - trust me). I had a friend show up for his first trail run in converse all-stars. I snickered, but he made it to the top, and yes, I did apologize to him. I have another friend that has shown up for a trail run in her work clothes. There are no excuses, and when I think I have a good one, I just remember her pushing up that mountain in a dress.

"The worst adventure is the one you don't do"

Was this an adventure (flowchart)?

For more ideas:

Most importantly, just get out there!