The risk of adventure

My brother once told me, trying to convince me that he and his girlfriend and I should all try to walk the 48 miles of Zion traverse in a day, that if you already know that you can do something, it’s not an adventure. Or put another way, if you can reliably predict the outcome, it’s only simple execution, not adventuring.


(The Zion Traverse! We made it 38 miles, I think, before we bailed)


I’m not sure I agree with him 100% about adventure, but that aside, his comment has stuck with me. In that moment, my brother put into words something I’d never even thought consciously about before but that was somehow rattling around in my head regardless, that maybe I’d lost the adventure part of adventure in my life. I haven’t, I don’t think, and even though I’m sure he forgot he said it the moment it fell from his lips, I think of this conversation very, very often.


(Not the Zion Traverse, but Valley of Fire State Park, which is also totally amazing and part of our pre-Zion saga)


I was thinking of it last week, when I was trying to decide what to do with two consecutive days off (ha! — what I suppose is called a “weekend”).

It is very easy to default to what I already know when I have a small amount of time off and not too much time beforehand to think about it. That way it’s not so adventurous, but it’s definitely, with limited and precious time, executing something that I already know that I will enjoy. For example, I thought I might go to Oxbow Park, which I’ve been to a bazillion times and have done a bazillion hours of work in, and is totally one of my happiest of happy places.


(my secret Oxbow beach;)


But on the other hand, there are lots of places nearby, and maybe some of them that I don’t know yet are future happy places.

Part of the difference is visualization. I can picture Oxbow. I would bike out there early, taking the Springwater path that I miss so dearly, set up my tent, sit alongside the Sandy River and listen to the osprey. I would go for a run on the trails I love. I would hear the robins tucking themselves in at night, and the owls come out; I would see the stars and smell the cedar and go to sleep in the utter peacefulness of old growth, wake up to the birds of first light. I can picture this all, and I love it.


(and I bet the Calypso orchids would have been blooming there, too:)


I can’t picture something that I don’t know yet in the same enticing detail. And it’s possible that it won’t actually be that great and I’ll wish I hadn’t done it; that’s the risk I take doing something unknown. But, again, if I only ever do the things I already know I like, there are a million other things I’m missing out on. No, I’m not advocating for running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to experience every possible thing at all moments. But never experiencing other things is stagnation. And we all know how I feel about stagnating. As always, I’m a fan of balance: know what you love, but remember to branch out.

So with all that in mind, I left Oxbow for another day and took myself to a different spot in a different state that maybe I’ll post more specifically about another day. For now, let’s leave it at the dilemma and risk of what you love vs. what you don’t yet know you love, and when to call it one way or the other.

Anyone else struggle with this?



  1. I’ve got wanderlust…bad. I like to visit new places, see new things and try new things. Sure I have my favorite places to go but I really like to get new experiences. Even dining out, I hardly ever order the same thing when we return to a restaurant. It’s all about the exploration for me. Not knowing what is around the next corner.

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