It seems these days that activities like hiking, camping, skiing, mountain biking, and outdoor climbing are reserved for those “free” hours between 5PM on Friday to 5PM on Sunday. We pretty much only allot ourselves a 48 hour block to have fun each week, which most of the time gets consumed by menial tasks that usually involve the phrase “work around the house”. It would be taboo to hear on a Thursday morning that your coworker went camping night before and still made it into work by 8AM the following morning, right? Why is that? It seems like we constantly wish and wonder what it would be like to have more hours of daylight so that we could go just a little bit longer. I would like to dedicate this post to exploring why people aren’t going on adventures after the work day and why we all should be.
Of course, it’s absolutely easier to clock out, drive home, and pick up where you left off your latest Netflix binge as you “decompress” from the work day. But wouldn’t you rather be sitting on top a hill or mountain watching the sunset disappear beyond the horizon instead of a rerun of that Seinfeld you’ve seen 5 times? I imagine 99% of people would agree to that but are constantly inhibited by excuses like: “It takes too long and I don’t have the time”, “I’m too tired when I get home from work”, or “I can’t be exhausted for work tomorrow”. Like anything else in life, excuses are just that, they give us a free cop-out that keeps us inside our comfort zones. But all progress (and anything worth-a-damn), occurs outside of our comfort zones.
Think about the last time you went on an good hike, one that climbed a mountain and had a beautiful view of the valley below, now how long did it take you to go from car to summit and back? Did it take 2,3,5, or 7+ hours? Now let’s plan for a day in summer that you can cut out of work by 4:30PM and the sun sets around 8:30PM, this gives you 4+ hours of daylight to get out and have an adventure. And let’s be honest, when was the last time we hiked, biked, or climbed for more than 4 hours? Of course, this doesn’t come without challenges. Preparation is the key to a successful after-work adventure, which starts the night before. Your pack should be ready to go and the car should be packed before you head off to sleep, filled with whatever gear you’ll need. That way you can wake up, have your coffee, and make it into work without any delays. This sets you up to leave right from work and make it to the trailhead or location by 5PM, giving you the next 3 hours to go on an epic hike or to just enjoy being outside. Even bring along your dinner to have meal with a view that’s guaranteed to be better than the one from your kitchen table. Lastly, time the remaining daylight so that you can safely return to your car without the need of a headlamp, but who says your trek can’t continue into the dark with the help of a head lamp or lantern. Trust me, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Though you might get home a later than usual, doing this one night a week won’t throw a monkey wrench into your schedule.
Now that you realize an after work adventure is attainable, could we expand this idea to include overnight adventures? Just imagine taking your kayak down the river to an island campsite, cook your dinner over a roaring campfire, sleep out under the stars, and still make it to your 8AM meeting the following morning. Is it even possible to camp out on a week night or is that just out of the question? First lets go over what all is needed to set up camp: Tent, bag, pad, and… well that’s it. I believe we tend over think what camping actually entails and the fact your site can be set up in 10 minutes and broken down the next morning even faster. So what if you show up to work smelling like the reminiscence of a campfire, it’s a helluva conversation starter to explain that your morning began somewhere in the woods or on a mountain. Yes, you might be more exhausted the following day, but no more exhausted then you are every other Monday after getting after the weekend in one way or another. Start small, pitch the tent in your backyard or at a local park so you can make it home for a quick shower and make yourself presentable. Do yourself a favor and plan to camp on a night you don’t have any important meetings or deadlines the following day.
The last reason people choose to conquer the jar of Nutella on the couch rather than a mountain’s summit, is that they are too exhausted when they get home from work. In my opinion, this seems like the only plausible excuse (for now). I won’t deny that after-work adventures and activities are difficult because most of us have been on the move since 6AM and sitting down seems like the perfect remedy at a day’s end. However, we seem to be full of energy when Friday rolls around and it’s time to leave work. So what’s the difference between 5PM on Friday and Wednesday? Both days started at the same time; furthermore, we should be more tired on Friday having spent the previous 5 days working from sunup to sundown, right? I believe it’s all in the mindset driven by your enthusiasm for whatever you’re about to do. So maybe you start small with a short hike to go through the motions of what logistics it takes to go for an after-work hike. Then build up, week by week, to a full blown 3 hour hike that even requires you to bring a pack along. Soon enough you’ll be longing for your week days because now you’ve created nearly 20 extra hours in your week for adventures.
So go ahead, throw out your best excuse and get outside. No longer are your weekend warrior antics limited to days that start with the letter S. It’s going to take a few times to dial in your logistics and planning, but soon enough your weekdays will be filled with more adventures than your weekends could ever be.