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Everyone Belongs Outside

Written by Susan Twitchell on . Posted in Stories.

Being outside in nature is wonderful for our health and well being, and we all deserve the opportunity to experience it. Not sure this is true for you? It absolutely is!

"we all deserve the opportunity to get outside"

We All Belong Outside

Nature really is available to everyone.

Even though no one is writing an article about your outdoor pursuits doesn’t mean your “adventure” means any less, or that your experience means less than a pro athlete. Whatever way you experience the outdoors, you belong there.

Here at Get Outsude, we often get questions from people asking, “Am I too old for this?” or “I don’t think I’m fit enough”, or “I don’t think I’m experienced enough”, and our response is usually “No Way!”. We need to be realistic about what our bodies can handle and what adventure is appropriate, but your hiking dreams are within your reach! Really, they are!

Learn and Play in Suportive Environments

Our women’s backpacking programs were designed to allow women and gender diverse people to experience the outdoors surrounded by supportive peers.  Sometimes all it takes to spark confidence is seeing someone like you leading the way. Trying something for the first time in a supportive group can make all the difference.  Some people like to learn by trying with a coach, others like to learn by watching experts do it.  Both work!

Sometimes we fall into the trap of apologizing over and over again for how slow or inexperienced we are.  This kind of negative self-talk can be hard on both you and the people around you.  Instead, I like to thank my hiking partners for their patience.  This is a positive way to show your appreciation for your hiking partner’s support, but you don’t have to feel bad.

Make Exciting Plans and Goals

Unless you are trying to break the record for fastest-known-time on a given trail, there is no reason to rush or burn yourself out.

Here are some ways to make outdoor adventures more achievable, without taking away the fun.

  • Build Up to Bigger Things

    Start off with day hikes, then move to single night overnights, and then branch off into multi-day hikes.  The more you get out, the better your skills get and the more adventure partners you will have.

  • Take a Rest Day

    On multi-day hikes, consider camping two nights in the same spot somewhere in the middle of the hike. This gives you a rest day where you can either fully rest or explore side trails without the big backpack.  After eating two days of food without moving camp, your backpack will be way lighter when you hit the trail again.

  • Pace Yourself

    Try to stay in the aerobic zone as much as possible, as your body can travel much much further.  If you can speak a whole sentence without gasping for air, you are in this zone.  If you are gasping, you are in the anaerobic zone where most people can only operate for ~30mins before bonking hard. 

  • Build Your Team of Hiking Partners

    Get out with a few different people on a regular basis. Having more people to get out with will make it easier to go on the adventures you want. Connect with other women who have taken a program at Get Outside.

Moving Past Barriers

Some face more barriers to get outside than others. Here are some resources to help folks move forward with their outdoor adventures:

  • Don’t even know where to start? Learn the basics.

  • Worried about what others think? It’s good to remember that, “the people that matter don’t mind, and the people who mind don’t matter.” Good hiking buddies are just happy to be out in nature with you. The kinds of people who would judge you are almost certainly more worried about their own situations anyway. You belong outside, claim your space!

  • Is it daunting to buy all the necessary gear? Read up on how to find cheap gear to get you going.

  • Do you feel you aren’t physically “ready” to chase your outdoor dreams? Start out with a simple fitness plan, or sign up for a hiking or snowshoeing fitness series.

  • Scared of bears? Learn more about bears and how to avoid conflicts with them.

  • Motivation hard to come by? Pick an outdoor activity that is within your ability, and includes something you are stoked about. It could be a walk, frisbee golf, or sitting on a bench. Anything outside counts. Invite a friend to help you stick to the plan!

  • Worried about getting lost? Take a navigation course and practice till you are confident.

  • Lack the confidence to go out on your own? Take a course or sign up for a group event.

  • Are you a person with physical, visual, cognitive, or other access needs? Rocky Mountain Adaptive works to enable all individuals to participate, learn, and excel in sport and recreation activities in the Canadian Rockies.

Looking for supportive groups to get outside with? There are tons of welcoming groups all over, surely there will be one that is a good fit for you.

These are just a few. The Alberta Hiking Association has a long list of hiking clubs.

We all deserve the opportunity to get outside, and we all belong there if we want to be there. Go for it!

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