A mid-run hug.
We talk about outdoor gear a lot here at Trailspace. But there's one thing I carry on all of my outings that doesn't get discussed as much as tents, stoves, and packs. That's family. Loved ones. I've realized I carry them along on all of my outdoor adventures, usually figuratively, but also at times literally (I have two young kids).
These are the people who support you—whether they're out there with you or back at home—and who often make those outings possible, or at least more enjoyable. They might join you on the trail or the climb. Carry the tent and the food. Or they may watch the kids, water your plants, mail out supplies, or simply smile encouragingly at your photos and tales when you return.
When I run, hike, or ski, often alone, it's deceptively easy to think I'm completely independent. After all, I'm responsible for myself, my safety, my experience. No one's out there carrying me. But my experience isn't solitary. Someone is watching the children, getting the job done, buying the energy bars and trail mix, waiting to ask, "how was it?"
You probably can go it alone, but supportive family and friends keep it from being lonely. They even can lift you up higher.
My toddler was my regular training partner and official weight load when I prepped for Rainier two years ago. My son made me a finisher's trophy out of recycling after my first trail ultra; it sits on my dresser. When I crossed the 1,000-annual-miles-run mark last year, my husband and now-preschooler surprised me, appearing in the middle of a long run with a celebratory toilet paper banner.
That's love. The daily gestures that say, "go ahead, go out there and be you. I'll be here when you come back." Or, even better, "let's go together." If you're lucky enough to have that, say thank you right now.
I'm not one to give others relationship advice. I have had outdoor moments with my spouse—at the top of a steep, icy bowl; when the canoe was ripped in half (literally); when one of us realized on an exposed ridge in a thunderstorm that the rain shell was at home—that are not the stuff of Valentine cards.
But, here are a few personal thoughts on outdoorsy love of all varieties:
- Life is an accumulation of moments. Be thankful for the daily support, not just the grand romantic gestures.
- Give back time and respect in equal measure (even if their thing is not remotely your thing).
- Bring along chocolate. It makes everything better indoors and out.
- Realize even if your partner, child, or best friend is also outdoorsy, that does not mean you will always have the same outdoor goals, abilities, or interests. Sometimes you'll want to go faster, slower, or in a different direction.
What matters is that you end up back at the same place, still liking, loving, and supporting one another.