Always Pack Your Adventure Shoes
In my many travels through the beautiful state of Washington, I've noticed that there are an almost infinite number of places to park and take a hike through some breathtaking forests and rivers. Even areas that aren't officially national park (and there is a lot of national park), you can walk, climb, or swim through nearly the entire state. After living in the area for a few years, I had almost started to take this natural luxury for granted until one particular drive.
A few years back, I was riding with a close friend who had recently come up from one of the big flat southern states and her elation about the natural bounty of trees, hills, and clear cool water was palpable. This friend loved to climb and adventure, and eventually, we came across an irresistible opportunity to pull over and take an impromptu trek into the woods, but there was a catch. She'd forgotten to bring any hiking shoes. In fact, being from a place that doesn't have dense forests and rivers everywhere, she didn't actually own any shoes that were worthy of the terrain.
To her credit, my friend prides herself on an adventurous spirit and resolved to take the hike anyway, in a pair of tall leather 'dancing' boots (flat heels, thank goodness) which provided decent protection against the underbrush but I worried about those slick soles that definitely wouldn't grip the ground like my trusty expedition sneakers. Despite my concerns, we covered at least two miles of riverside forest, with my friend constantly pointing out plants she was unfamiliar with, hooting back at the birds, and climbing everything in sight. The boots actually held up pretty well under the circumstances, but a few slopes she tried simply were not covered in enough tree roots to make up for the lack of grip and we had to move on.
Finally, we came to a shallow point in the river, only about knee-height and decided to forge it. I ended up taking the lead with my adventurous friend jumping happily right behind me. When one of the large rocks under my feet shifted, I turned to warn her just in time to see her tiny 4'11" frame splash into the water. Those slick boots had finally failed to serve and we both ended up soaked, but fortunately OK on the other side. Drying out on some sun-warmed rocks, she admitted that perhaps there was some merit to always having a pair of sturdy hiking shoes ready for these wonderful impromptu excursions.
By the time we crossed again (more carefully this time) we were mostly dry and ready for some serious lunch, and perhaps a trip to the shoe store for some Washington-worthy hiking sneakers. Since then, my adventurous friend and I have taken many impromptu expiditons into the beautiful local wilderness, with our one learned lesson: Always bring some adventure shoes.
No matter where you live, there is always some amazing opportunity for a new outdoor experience, especially if you watch for those perfect little spots to pull over and take a hike. From climbing trees in Washington to rock formations in Arizona, you never know when the urge to adventure will strike. Even in an urban jungle, there are secret stretches of wilderness between blocks, housing developments and along beaches if there are any. Every time you leave the house, ask yourself: Could today be an adventure day? Especially if you'll be driving between towns, consider throwing your old hiking boots in the back seat, just in case you (or an adventurous friend) find a good reason to take an impromptu hike.