A note before you dive in: this is a re-post of a piece I wrote on The Vanna Project. After being on the road full-time for a few weeks, it's got me thinking all about the amazing female adventure friends I know back in the Pacific Northwest, so in paying tribute to them and the bond we share it seemed right to bring this piece to the forefront again.
I'll just come out and say it: I've never been the best at keeping a friendship going.
Now don't get me wrong-- it's always my intention to be available to those I care about. I feel very fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life who I cherish greatly. Even so, as someone with an inquisitive, adventurous mind who is always seeking out the next road or trail, I've often found it challenging to stay in one place long enough to make lasting connections, and if I'm being honest with myself I find it immensely difficult to keep relationships going from far away for the very same reasons.
Over the past couple of years, I have had some incredibly fortunate opportunities to meet and befriend other amazingly adventurous women. Women who, like me, live to travel and explore. I call these souls adventure friends, and now that I know what it's like to have adventure friends in my life I've been intentionally seeking them out more than ever. There is a special connection to be found to those who know what it's like to be out of cell range for days at a time, know how it feels to roll with no travel itinerary (or makeup), and can empathize with being broken down on the side of the road.
If you're like me in any way, it can seem easy sometimes to lose touch with your friends. I'm making the case that you should not only find, but keep adventure friends in your life. Here are a few reasons why it's worth it:
1. Community is essential to our lives, especially in the outdoors.
While my general life experiences have shown me that nature is a place of healing and restoring, this came with the underlying assumption that healing and restoration happen only when we are alone. Not so. Some of the most nurturing, energizing experiences I have had in the outdoors are next to those who love to experience it fully. I am driven when I listen to the stories of my adventure friends. I am heard when they appreciate my hardships and joys. I am inspired when we share experiences in front of a galaxy of stars, or the gently falling snow, or a beautiful mountain view.
2. Trail talk.
In that same vein, trail talk is some of my favorite kinds of talk. Or campsite talk. Or lakeside talk. Anytime it's just you and your friend and the outdoors, things get real.
3. Adventure friends understand the importance of a sunrise.
And it's generally not to sleep through. I've had some incredible moments with adventure friends when we plan our day around the sunlight. Whether it's dashing up a mountain with the hope of arriving before the sun, or driving out to just the right spot for those early morning colors, you know you have an adventure friend on your hands when they are along for the journey (even if it means getting up at an ungodly hour to make it happen).
4. Adventure friends come prepared.
This is perhaps a less sexy one to list, but it's so so important as it can be a real make-or-break when it comes to how often you plan to go into the wild with your friends. There are already a lot of logistics to decide on when you have an excursion on the calendar, and I've found that while I love introducing friends to the outdoors, it can sometimes be draining to be 'the' person who is responsible for picking the location, equipping friends with gear, and making sure everyone is safe. I appreciate adventure friends so much for knowing what they need, what their physical limits are, and taking equal responsibility when it comes to safety.
5. They understand your call to the outdoors (and away from your phone).
In an age where you can be instantly connected with anyone at any time, I've found it refreshing to talk with a fellow adventure friend who often doesn't respond to their texts for days at a time because they are regularly out of cell range. It's healthy to create a culture of acceptance around disconnecting, without apology or defense. Adventure friends, by their very nomadic and exploratory nature, live in a partially disconnected state.
6. Like any good friend, when you see your adventure friends after a time apart, you can pick right back up where you left off.
One of the innate qualities in adventure friends is that they aren't always around. But when you finally both have an overlapping moment to connect, or when you meet up on that next trip, they usually come with some pretty epic stories from their time in the outdoors. Quality time over quantity time: you might not see each other often, but when you do it's time dedicated to growing, healing, sharing stories, and gathering in nature.
7. Adventure friends won't shy away from trying new things.
At least not typically. I'm always impressed with the courage and genuine interest adventure friends have for taking on a new challenge or picking up a new piece of gear. There are lasting memories and moments of trust to be built with your friends over these leaps of faith, and plus, it's fun to learn new things!
8. Their graceful strength and courage is inspiring.
This might go without saying, but I am always so impressed to be out with my friends when we trek up to the top of a mountain, or brave the dark, or anything that shows me what strong, vital human beings they are. Seeing other women go beast mode up a hill or totally nail an arm balance is both validating and inspiring. More please!