I didn’t grow up in a family that planned vacations around National Parks or some other outdoor adventure.

An outdoor lifestyle wasn’t even on my radar until the last few years — and I was clueless what “outdoor lifestyle” even meant. Where would I begin? What should I try first? And most important to me at the time, what I should wear?

I was about as new of a newbie as you could get  — but I was interested, and so it began.

The next few years weren’t pretty, but I definitely learned some pretty important lessons along the way.

Adventure is everywhere

You don’t have to be on the side of a mountain to call it an adventure. It can be taking the dogs out to a new trail for a hike, getting a group together to kayak down the Des Moines River or trying to set up camp at one of these off the beaten path locations.

There are plenty of opportunities to seek adventure and get a good feel on how “outdoorsy” you want to become.

Phone a friend

While having a solid understanding of any activity is a good idea — you shouldn’t let your lack of experience hold you back from trying something new.

There are plenty of resources out there to help you build a foundation of knowledge. My go to guides include:

  • Friends, Co-Workers, and people I know (and trust) who are experienced in the activity I’m interested in
  • The internet
  • The Complete Wilderness Manual
  • Local events, workshops, and clinics

You shouldn’t expect yourself to be an expert going into it — don’t be afraid to ask questions. In most cases you don’t necessarily need to be an expert to experience the adventure. Several outdoor activities are no different than anything else in life — you need to first experience the activity, to learn how to best participate in it.

Who you Adventure with Matters

An okay trip can be made great with the right company and a great trip can be downgraded to disaster with the wrong. Fortunately, I have yet to pick bad company on an adventure trip. However, I have heard stories that would make you cringe.

So do as mom says and choose your friends wisely.

Lower your expecations

The success of an adventure shouldn’t be limited to your own expectations.

Life itself is unpredictable, mix that up with being a nature novice — you’re in for a treat. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Sometimes it’s hard to embrace the unexpected because its not always puppies and rainbows, but I’ve learned that there is nearly always something positive that stems from the unexpected. Be it a great story or a learned lesson — the unexpected always seems to be the thing that sticks with you for years to come.

It's Your Story

This summer I went on a 12 day road trip with my fiancé through the northwest and down the coastline. We saw some of the most beautiful sights this country has to offer. However, there was one thing we weren’t comfortable with — bears.

When we stopped in the Black Hills National Forest two days into our trip, we set out on what we call our first “wilderness” hike. For about 2/3 of the time on the trail we were talking through what we would do if we happened upon a bear. We may have gone a mile (if that) before we decided it was time to turn around. Now that we’re home, we both talk about how ridiculous we were in that moment and how so many other people have hiked that trail without a second thought.

It’s easy to feel like your adventure is lame compared to what others are achieving. But the bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter what other people are doing — your story is YOURS and you should be proud of that.

Walking that trail was our moment. We accomplished something that neither of us thought we would feel comfortable doing — and even though the moment was uncomfortable (and short), the memory left us feeling like we had overcome a small fear, and that’s pretty cool.

Active Crew Ashleigh and Elena Cross Country Skiing

Written by Active Crew member: Ashleigh

The Roundup

Even though I’ve traveled a bit and done way more adventuring in the last few years, than I did the previous 20+years — I wouldn’t call myself “outdoorsy”. I call myself someone who absolutely loves being outdoors and wants to continue pursuing that life by nudging myself a little bit outside of my comfort zone every now and then.