A sunny spring weekend is ripe for outdoor adventures, but unfortunately I find the throngs of fellow adventurers to be a deterrent. Roads, campgrounds and many popular trails can become clogged with spontaneous weekend visitors. Luckily, our plans include a few strategies for losing the crowds and finding a bit of springtime solitude.
Five suggestions come to mind:
First, pack light… Today we’ll leave our pop-up trailer behind and opt instead for throwing sleeping gear, a small cooler and picnic basket in the back of the truck to allow for spending the night out somewhere if we choose to. We are looking forward to making our tent trailer a home base for summer adventures farther from home, but this weekend we don’t want to add finding a campsite to our frustrations. 2. Hit the backroads… We make distance on the freeways but our destination will be down narrow scenic byways and the dirt roads that spider off from there. Having a high clearance vehicle is a great advantage, and 4wd is even better. 3. Get out of the vehicle…Take a walk! It’s always fun to explore some little used jeep trail to remote destinations but the best wilderness experience is multi-sensory and requires a bit of physical exertion. Losing the tire tracks and most of the footprints is one sure way to lose the crowds. I like to follow my sense of curiosity… What IS over that next hill? Even on the most popular of weekends this strategy will thin crowds to a trickle… most people stick to the asphalt. . . even (maybe especially) in the big name national parks! The roads were full of ATV-laden trailers and RVs, but today we have the hiking trails all to ourselves!
4. Load the GPS with geocaching adventures….. I consider this the best strategy of all… to seek out caches where I can pull off the side of the road, lace up my boots and head cross-country to follow fellow cacher’s recommendations to a “favorite hidden gem”.
This way, I am in for a physical and mental challenge that is generally not on the map. I like to look for caches that give parking coordinates and describe the terrain. A terrain difficulty of 3.5 or 4 often promises some of the most diverse and rewarding of views.
5. Go prepared – hiking sticks, water bottles or camelbaks, snacks, camera, GPS, first aid kit, gazetteer maps, binoculars, bird and flower identification books, sketch pad, pencil and pen… these are a few of the things I typically throw in my bag as we head out. Plan to spend some time, change plans on the fly, enjoy the day.
What would you add to the list? It’s another beautiful day out there… bet I can find a quiet spot!… Ready?