For the second entry to our Adventure Series, let me share with you an adventure I went on this winter and more importantly, how you too can have one just like it.

Into The Snow

It was the beginning of March and the sky seemed to want to continue dumping rain onto the northern part of California. I was grateful for the rain, but like a lot of folks during the rainy months, I kept coming short of how to get outside and go have some fun in the outdoors amidst the wet.

My favorite thing to do outside during the winter is to ski, but now that I don’t live and work in the mountains I am having to rediscover what enjoying the outdoors during the winter looks like for me. A way I found to do that was to go to the mountains anyway, although this time not to ski, and instead, to snowshoe. Even though it’s a little slower and is less extreme, I still had a blast as expected.

Just Pick A Spot

The weekend was around the corner so I called up my buddy, who is also named Josh, to see if he wanted to get outside. On the day of, we stopped by our local outdoor gear store to rent snowshoes and then headed to Lassen National Park (LNP), which is about an hour from where we live in Redding CA.

Josh and I had almost no plan. It was simple: get snowshoes, find some snow and walk around. I knew that if we went looking, we’d be able to find adventure. We had the snowshoes, now to find the snow. After using the Google Maps method (I’ll explain that below) we decided to go to a small body of water called Manzanita Lake, which is just inside the entrance to LPN.

We pulled up, parked outside the park entrance (didn’t want to pay that entrance fee) and walked the road that connected us to Manzanita Lake. Temperatures were between 30-40 degrees fahrenheit and there wasn’t any wind. Perfect.

An Adventure Unfolds

Once we got to Manzanita Lake, which was completely frozen over, we put our snowshoes on and started walking. Right from the get-go we used our curiosity-lenses and followed our noses while we sniffed out adventure. We had walked about half way around the frozen lake when the brilliant idea of walking on top of the lake popped into my head. Josh was skeptical, but after evaluating the snowpack on the lake’s surface, he saw that we could indeed walk on it safely. Despite our logical decision-making process, it was still an eerie feeling being 100 ft from the shore and standing on top of a lake in the middle of winter.

Onward and Upward

From the middle of the lake, I noticed a ridge to the south, pointed toward it’s steep snowy banks and said to Josh, “Hey, let’s see what’s up there!” So off we went, to the top of that random hill. It was steep, it was fun and to add the feeling of adventure the wind started biting at our backs as we charged the slope.

Once on top, Josh figured out that if he packed a snowball and rolled it like a bowling ball downhill, it would gather speed and snow. This quickly became a game to see who could roll their snowball the farthest down the hill. Eventually, it morphed into a team challenge where we worked together trying to out-roll the last snowball we sent hurdling downhill.

Fun, Easy, Replicable – Adventure

As the day went on we tried sliding downhill, yelling funny sounds and listening to them echo in the woods, we found icicles to eat, sword fight with and break into a million pieces, we enjoyed the ABSOLUTE silence of the mountains, and ultimately arrived at the bank of a small stream that fed into Manzanita Lake right as the daylight was fading to golden hour. It was beautiful.

Now, this wasn’t a grand expedition type of adventure. Instead, it was mellow with no hype or crazy risks, nor was any expensive gear or extensive prior skill necessary. It was simply fun, easy and something that most anyone could do. All it took was some curiosity, creativity, good company, and some childlikeness.

And as promised, here’s how you can do it yourself.

The Google Maps Method

Steps

  1. Google Maps
    Pull up google maps of the area you’d like to go. Make sure you have “satellite view” on.
  2. Greenery & Natural Landscape
    Pick an area that has some greenery and is a natural landscape.
  3. Natural features
    What features does this area boast? For example:

    • Rivers, ponds, lakes, ocean, etc.
    • Hills, mountains, canyons, fields, valleys, etc.
    • Trees, rocks, cliffs, meadows, desert, snow, beach, etc.
    • How can you explore these areas? Ex:
      Trails, viewpoints, things to climb, things to slide down, things to get on top of, etc.

  4. Go check it out!
    Look for terrain that is out of the ordinary. For example, a creek bed with lot’s overgrowth. That’s not a kind of terrain I spend most of my time in, I bet I’d find an adventure by exploring it! And that’s the key – just go explore. It’s ok if you don’t know what you’ll actually do once you get there! That’s what makes it an adventure. Remember curiosity-goggles?
  5. Reflect.
    What did you discover? Were you lead by curiosity? Maybe you already had an adventure here? If you did, how could you make another adventure out of a return trip? For example, I went and paddled around this lake that’s 15 minutes from my house and found several cool side canyons I would have liked to explore. They involved some scrambling that I didn’t want to do by myself, so I planned to go back and explore those with a friend. My curiosity-lenses lead me to ask, “what’s down that canyon? How far could I go? What would I discover? Would it be pretty?” Remember, acting on that is the fun part that creates an adventure.

How I Use Curiosity to my Advantage

When it comes to curiosity some things that I frequently for look for are:

  1. Beautiful things and views
    • A gorgeous valley at sunset.. or my backyard in spring.
  2. Interesting terrain
    Ex: rock formations, unique places to discover.

    • While in college I often went bushwhacking in the local nature area where my college was located. On one occasion I accidentally found an old mine entrance. I only went in a little way as it was a bit scary to me! But just finding it proved to be an adventure!
  3. Ways to take the path less traveled.. literally
    • Often without having a destination or good reason to, I will intentionally avoid all trails because I know it will lead me to something cool: an adventure of course.
  4. Things that are new to me
    • Honestly, this could be a leaf I’ve never seen. I like to grab greenery off plants just touch it, to interact with it. This could obviously be much grander, but again, it’s about being curious.
  5. Environments I have yet to experience
    • Ever jumped in a cold body of water just because you can? It’s almost irrational because it’s cold! There really isn’t much point other than to have some fun and make it an adventure. Which is my next suggestion:
  6. Bodies of water to swim in
    • Lakes, ocean, hot springs, rivers, creeks, etc.
  7. Paths I have yet to go down
    • I will intentionally follow trails and roads I’ve never been down to see where they go. It’s a lot of fun! And of course…
  8. FUN!
    • I look for ways to have as much fun as I can, just like Josh and I did when we rolled the snowballs down the hill on our snowshoe adventure. The key here is to focus on playing just like a little kiddo would.

Obvious Reminders: Please be aware of private property, don’t place yourself near dangerous people, and remain aware of your ability level as the natural risk factor increases. Overall, please use common sense.