As assumed by the title of this column, a lot of my time in life is spend traveling the road, gallivanting on an outdoor junket to ride a bike, lap the lifts or earn my turns in some part of the Continental West.
The lifestyle sounds glamorous, and, admittedly, it kind of is. But living a life of perpetual adventure is also hard. If not for the transient upheaval that interrupts the daily necessities of life and relationships, then for the selfish quest to one up your last adventure – because with every trip comes a bigger threshold for excitement and a bigger need for an outdoor fix.
For the most part, it’s a sustainable habit. Only until it’s not. Faced with mounting deadlines and general, self-sabotaging laziness this winter, I’ve spent a lot of it sitting on my ass in Utah, bemoaning the lack of snow or griping about living in the soupy smog of SLC this season. Whether I’m just jaded or really a bona fide slacker, I’ve quickly come off the high of daily adventures since (temporarily?) coming back to Utah.
But a recent trip to Colorado was going to change all that. Different scenery would reinvigorate my outdoor junkie status, and I was ready, frothing for a new dusting. Snowboard, snowshoes, Yaktrax, backcountry gear – I wasn’t entirely sure what I would find, but if I found it, I’d be semi-ready whenever the time came.
As I crossed our neighborly border to the east, the snow gods opened their skies and enticed me with the best winter drug known to an outdoorswoman. And like clockwork, an avalanche of freelance work began to roll in. Projects that I – and my bank account – couldn’t say no to. The snow accumulated outside while I logged hours inside, billing clients for the hours I spent daydreaming about the next hit of powder. Hey, whatever it takes to fuel the next adrenaline rush.
Still desperate to inhale that cleansing high of mountain air, I was reduced to dire measures. So with lifts closed, local friends at their second jobs, and no business exploring off-piste on my own, I embarked on the most low-grade fix imaginable: an urban walkabout through the town of Breckenridge. Navigating the curiosities of storefronts and ice sculptures, I traversed the pedestrian intersections, switchbacking the streets for the best of window shopping and people watching.
At 9,000 feet, my heart rate was elevated to an acceptable power-walking pace, rightfully low by technical standards. It was no major fix, but there’s always a third element that can sway an adventure towards a new rush, which has nothing to do with exertion or technicalities. That is: simply opening your eyes to the world around you.
As I continued my excursion, I stumbled across something eye-opening, indeed. There, in plain sight on the corner of the sidewalk, sat a bag of (totally legal, bro) Colorado shake. Pocketing the evidence, I was dumbstruck by my luck for such an unexpected discovery on a fairly routine walkabout. As I walked away with good fortune, I pocketed some wisdom, too; a realization that when you’re a real junkie, you don’t care that adventure doesn’t always come with big expeditions or high-risk expertise as long as you’re perpetually jonesing for something new.
And admitting that is half the battle.