What’s an outdoors enthusiast anyway?

Being an outdoors enthusiast is a blanket term we use that has an unlimited amount of meaning. For me it generally means walking, hiking in particular, long walks and many hours through woods or up hills and mountains. But it also means spending time in our local country parks with the family, dog in the river, daughter collecting sticks. It also means my dad throwing stones for the dog at the beach while he runs into the sea, daughter collecting shells. It means her putting on her wellies and waterproofs and walking around our local area, touching trees, inspecting leaves, saying hello to sheep, horses and cows, collecting daisies.

For everyone else it’ll mean different things. My friend thinks nothing of dropping a 70 mile cycle on a Saturday. This absolutely blows my mind, and is not for me, though I never completely dismiss an idea! Last year for some reason or other canoeing/kayaking entered my thoughts as a potential new hobby. I have always enjoyed the times I have done this in the past and am keen to get into it, though in the future, as new hobbies are not something I really have the time for.

The classic idea of an outdoors person has to do with carrying an axe over your plaid work shirt, beard looking resplendent as you build a cabin for your young family, deer skin hanging on the walls and the food on the table is what you caught that day. Or your eyelids freezing and snow collecting in your moustache as you climb the face of that mountain, alpine axes in your hands, rope and carabineers around your waist, cursing the day trippers who took the easy route. Bullshit. We have been sold this ideal for too long, your life and your pursuits are just as relevant.

Who can claim to be more outdoors in this completely fictional scenario?

The old guy who walks his dog three times every single day of the year. Each morning he is up at six, sees the sunrise for most of the year and set again in the evening. He sits for a good part of his afternoon on a bench, talking or reading if no one’s around. He feeds the ducks.

Or the self-proclaimed rugged outdoorsman, with the heavily manicured beard. He spends an inordinate amount of money on gear and expensive clothing, so he can sit in his office job day in day out with the occasional Saturday trip to the mountains or river. From here he posts pictures on his social media account of how outdoorsy he is. #livinglifetothefull

Why do I care? Well in actual fact, I don’t, each to his own. Life’s too short and too busy to be worrying about that and it makes no difference to me what your plans are or how you spend your time. But my point is that there is an unlimited amount of things you can do that enables you to qualify being an outdoors enthusiast. So go and grab your book and sit outside on a bench or under a tree and read. Take your lunch outside if you’re at work, wrap up if it’s cold. Take a walk along the canal, the shore, whatever is close to your area. Plant a tree, or better yet plant many. Buy that bike you were always going to get, or those running shoes, kayak, walking boots or jacket, whatever you need.

Take that first step into getting outside, you’ll be glad you did. And say hi to that old guy.

G.W. Harlan

Photos by R.K. Hughes of his wife. She would walk all day.

One thought on “What’s an outdoors enthusiast anyway?

  • Love this post. You’ve motivated me to kick myself up the arse and get outside for more than my wee jaunts tomorrow. A book on the grass may be my starting point.

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