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Finding nourishment in everyday moments

Written by Sawyer Ambassador Jennifer Phar Davis

If you’re like me, sometimes at lunch you find yourself scrolling through “epic” YouTube videos- people running through the Grand Canyon or rock climbing in Yosemite, beautiful panoramic shots of the Himalayas or the High Sierras or other far flung parts of the world. In the hiking and trail running communities, I’ve heard it called “trail porn.” But it exists in every outdoor subculture- surfing, snowboarding, fly fishing, and freestyle skiing, gravel riding and rock climbing (Free Solo anyone? Or the Dawn Wall?).

There’s nothing better to prime the pump for a big trail race than watching Kilian Jornet rock hop through the rugged mountains of Norway or setting a fastest known time on Denali. And it’s good for the soul to see all that natural beauty. It creates a longing for the outdoors, even if it’s through our computer screens.

The reality is that most of us can’t get to the Grand Canyon or the Alps or Outer Mongolia or wherever these videos are shot, at least not on a regular basis. They’re more in the “trip of a lifetime” category. A lot of us have demanding jobs that don’t permit weeks-long vacations. We have mortgages, bills to pay, kids to shuttle around to school and soccer practice. Maybe we have fur babies who need us to stay close to home. Or sick parents in town. Or livestock to tend to. (Don’t laugh. We are learning that firsthand with the pair of goats we bought last year.)

The point is, it’s great to watch other people have epic adventures. But you know what’s even better than that? Having adventures for yourself! Maybe you have to do it close to home and in a time frame your current lifestyle allows. But it’s a lot more nourishing to actually get outside in nature than to live vicariously through someone else doing it.

Let’s call it micro-adventuring.

And there’s no better time to pursue it than during the summer. No matter where you live, you should be able to come up with half a dozen micro-adventures over the next few months. Make a list and see how many you can cross off. A day trip to the beach. A paddle across a lake or day trip down river. Take your dog out for her first trail run. Or your kids on their first overnight backcountry campout. Bike on a greenway or rail to trails path on a Saturday morning. End up at a brewery or your favorite restaurant.

The point is, there are plenty of adventures within reach. Take the initiative this summer and make them happen! We don’t have COVID holding us back anymore so we get creative and think outside the box. Maybe it’s a road trip to see how many peaks you can bag in a day. Or an oddball triathlon you create, blending random disciplines like stand up paddle boarding, roller blading and eating chicken wings. Maybe you’re terrible at them. Or maybe you’re doing something for the first time. Buy a bird ID book or download the Merlin app from Cornell University and see how many new species you can spot in a Saturday afternoon.

I am not trying to kill the vibe or downplay the videography and athletic accomplishments of those epic videos. I’m just saying that they’re not out of reach for a lot of us. At least for the time being. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have adventures at all! We pivot. We make adjustments. We get outside and have a great time and feel like a kid again.
My husband and I are long distance hikers. Before having kids we completed the Colorado Trail, the GR 11 across the Spanish Pyrenees, the Tour du Mont Blanc, and Laugavegur Trail in Iceland. Those were amazing experiences and we’re really excited about the possibility of having more of them in the future. But for now, our kids are our long distance trail. It’s not easy, but we try to embrace it every day. And one thing that makes it a lot easier to is to take them for a bike ride on a greenway or a creek stomp in Pisgah National Forest.
Wherever you are in life, I hope you’ll embrace your circumstances in the same way. It will do you good. There are loads of opportunities for all of us- no matter where we live- if we think creatively and work to make it happen.

So, have a great summer… and happy micro-adventuring!


October 5, 2023

Written by
Photo thumbnail Blog Author

Jennifer Pharr Davis

Hiker, Speaker, Author

Jennifer Pharr Davis is an internationally recognized adventurer, speaker, author, and entrepreneur who has hiked more than 14,000 miles of trails on six different continents.

In 2011 she set the overall fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail by finishing the 2,185-mile foot path in 46 days (an average of 47 miles a day). And she hasn't slowed down since.

Jennifer has backpacked 700 miles pregnant, walked across North Carolina while nursing her newborn son, and hiked in all 50 states with her two-year-old daughter.

She is a member of the President’s Council of Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, was featured in the 2020 IMAX film Into America’s Wild, and served on the board of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Jennifer is truly a force of nature. But what excites her most is introducing people to the life-changing opportunities that nature provides.

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