New Adventures with Stranger

You call up our friends for a day on the trail. You and your crew have familiar places you enjoy going, the crew consists of people you’re comfortable with, and you know the conversation will flow.

You’re not challenging yourself.

Think about it: When you were little, you met lots of new people and went lots of new places. Because your experience in life at that point was so minuscule, everything was a discovery process.

Give yourself a second to conjure up a child in the midst of the discovery process. How do you imagine the expression on his or her face? Could it be that his eyes are wide, jaw slightly dropped, and either awe-filled silence or an unrestrained “Wow!” escaping from his mouth? How about when thinking of a child as they first meet new friends? Perhaps you see them as a little shy at first, then falling right in with one another, declaring that they were now “BFFs?”

At least, that’s how I imagine kids in the discovery process.

So, when’s the last time you felt like that? When did you last exclaim your excitement because of what was in front of your eyes? When did you last go “play” with someone new and process the world through their view?

Get out of your adventure routine and hit the trail with new folks. Along with the socializing and exercise aspect of it, getting thrown out of your comfort zone into something new helps stretch your mind, keeping it sharp.

This is scientific, folks; I’m not just spouting off idealistic words.

“Researchers have long suspected that the human brain is particularly attracted to new information,” states a report from the University College of London, “…this might be important for learning.

“A region in the midbrain…responds better to novelty than to the familiar. This system also…could aid learning. This link between memory, novelty, motivation and reward could help…memory problems.”

There are lot of organizations and events that serve to introduce people to others in their community and show off new places or gain new skills. Take, for instance, Teton Sports’ #hikerchat events, held twice a year during Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. Teton Sports gets people together for SUP sessions, hiking, or snowshoeing, and usually has new gear on hand for participants to try out.

How to find a hiking partners

Heck, they might even go out for burritos afterwards, giving you a chance to refuel and actually talk to each other since, during the hike, you might have been saving your breath for hiking and not talking.

If you’re a woman looking to get outdoors and try new things with other women in your community, Outdoor Women’s Alliance has grassroots teams across North America that serve to grow confidence and leadership skills in women through outdoor adventure — and to just plain get outdoors and have fun. Where there aren’t yet teams, the organization gathers women together for events by partnering with brands and other local nonprofit groups, including in other regions of the world.

Not easy enough? Both of these organizations offer online communities to connect with like-minded people before hitting trails, rivers, and crags for offline adventures. And there’s always the standby — meetup.com — that allows users to search their local areas by interest for groups and events.

The real benefit to getting outside with new people is the chance to unfold more of your home, see places you didn’t realize existed, and even rediscover some classics in a new light. In the process, you’ll grow your adventure crew and might just find your new “BFF.”

 

One way to have new adventures with strangers is to hit the road, Road Trip Life style.

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Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. Leaving home to journey westward alone, she chased the sun to Utah. Over the years, she was consumed with skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and getting lost on back roads. But exploration continued to call. After closing her bakery — which funded college courses and adventure — she stored her possessions and hit the road again, on a quest to reach the distant places of North America. For three years she lived in her little Mazda 3 and skied the backcountry of Alaska, slept under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, ice climbed Colorado's frozen canyons and rock climbed across the continent, photographed Nova Scotia’s coves, backpacked in southern US wildernesses and munched on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. But living in a car started to feel limiting, so after seeing the many glories this continent had to offer, she chose the only place fitting for an explorer to spend a lifetime of wild wonder: British Columbia. Dual citizenship in hand, she settled along the Powder Highway in the Selkirks and is now making her home between four walls and deeply wooded mountains. When she's not playing the part of a photojournalist, Gina can be found collaborating with women worldwide through her nonprofit, Outdoor Women's Alliance, and working to improve her outdoor skills and wilderness safety certifications.