I’ve been really fortunate to live a life full of adventures and travels. I’ve backpacked in Europe, Snowboarded all over the US, climbed mountains, gone rock climbing in some of the best places in the country, mountain biked in Moab and all over Colorado, I’ve been backpacking in beautiful, wild places, and seen more amazing sunsets than I could ever count. I’ve learned that great friends are always excited for a new adventure, that the best travel partners are positive, even when conditions are difficult, that they focus on “I can” and never say “I can’t”. I’ve learned that a good book and some music will make any long bus ride go by faster. I’ve learned that drinking bottles of Spanish wine late into the night on the night train from Barcelona to Paris will result in ‘ugly american’ moments when you arrive in Gare-Du-Nord in the morning. It turns out that trains rolling down the tracks have a rocking motion similar to a boat, and when you get off on to the platform, the ‘sea legs’ you’ve got, in addition to the hangover, will make your morning quite unpleasant.
I’ve learned that you’ve always got to make sure your head lamp is charged up before you leave for a trip into the backcountry, and that if you forget your headlamp, you will always end up needing it. I was on Togwotee Pass in Wyoming splitboarding when I learned that lesson. It turns out that topo maps can easily hide a 35 foot chasm that so happens to be between your ski run and your campsite, and this will happen at dusk.
I’ve learned that its always worth it to get out on the slopes for at least a few runs, because you will never regret it. Ski fast and take chances.
There are places you will visit that will change you forever.
There are three types of fun. Type 1 fun is always fun, fun while your doing it, fun thinking about, fun planning, and fun telling stories about (for example, an amazing bluebird powder day with your friends and a nearly empty mountain, or a great day of riding singletrack). Type 2 fun involves some suffering while your doing it, but is fun to talk about afterwards (hiking a big peak and skiing down, getting caught in a rain storm while riding bikes). Type 3 fun is only fun when you’re telling your friends about the most epic sufferfest you’ve ever been on (I can’t think of a good example, because I’ve blocked out all of these memories). Sometimes those rides back to camp in the rain will stick with you more than any beautiful sunny day ride.
I’ve learned to bring my camera with me everywhere and make sure its accessible. Otherwise you miss that amazing sunset, or the cattle drive on the road as you drive to school, or the bald eagle hanging out on a tree, or the herd of Elk…
I’ve learned that it is always better to say YES when someone asks you if you want to go on an adventure. You never know what amazing thing you’ll get to see, amazing friends you might make, or awesome stories you’ll be able to tell. You never know what bullet you might dodge.
I’ve learned that whiskey and beer ALWAY tastes better by a camp fire after a day of riding single track and watching an amazing sunset.
I’ve learned that when you go on a hut trip, you must bring bacon. I do mean must, this is not optional.
I’ve learned that you absolutely have to bring snacks with you when you are playing in the wild. You shouldn’t hesitate to share those with your partners, and if they refuse and get ‘hangry’ (hunger induced anger), you need to find new partners.
Always bring chocolate.
Blackberry brandy makes for a delicious belly warmer when you are backcountry skiing. Whisky and hot chocolate are pretty much the best apres ski drink available. Its even better when you add Bailey’s irish cream.
Always make sure somebody knows where you are going, even if its a trail you’ve ridden a million times. One of the worst bike crashes I’ve had was on my backyard trail, the one I rode when I had 45 minutes before dark to go and get some exercise, and had travelled dozens of times.
Learn to fix your own gear. Its cheaper and its far more satisfying. Plus, if something breaks on the trail, you know how to deal with it.
Wear sunblock. Sunburns hurt.
If you are camping and your neighbor leaves at the end of the weekend, check to see if they left firewood behind.
When camping in the desert, buy blocks of ice, not bags of cubes. If you do buy cubes (for your cocktails, for example, keep them in the bag, so that the ice doesn’t get gross. Keep your cooler in a shaded spot and the ice will last longer. Buy one of those windshield reflector things, its so worth it. Buy gallon jugs with screw tops on them, refill them rather than buy more.
You can’t take yourself too seriously.
Ok, that was a lot more than 5, but you get the point. The most important lesson is that when adventure calls, always answer yes. You never know where it will take you, who you will meet, or what you’ll learn. The only thing you can guarantee is that a life of adventure is better than a life with out.