By Josh Boyd
In the past couple of months, our nation, as well as much of the world, has been forced to contend with troubling circumstances that are outside of our control. As COVID-19 has continued to spread, news reports have become unsettling, and we find ourselves questioning our health and safety, as well as that of our families.
Times like these foster a culture of fear, and we become hard-pressed to sort fact from fiction as it pertains to the true extent of the disease, and how best to protect ourselves. In short, it becomes easy to feel as if we have no control over the matter and that is often far more worrisome than the disease itself.
We find ourselves longing for a return to normal daily life and the peace of mind that could be found before all of the muddled confusion and chaos. However, the vast beauty of nature and bountiful peace that comes with time spent in the relative solitude of the outdoors cannot be taken from us. As avid outdoorsmen and women, a retreat from these stressful times is seldom hard to find, if only we know where to look.
The following are five outdoor adventures that any individual can take part in at this very moment, to find the peace of mind that we are all in need of.
Take a Float Trip
If you thoroughly enjoy being on the water, there are few activities as relaxing as that of taking a lazy day float trip down a local creek or river. By spending the afternoon in a kayak or canoe, with the ever-constant flow of water as your guide, you can leave the modern world behind. When you can dedicate an entire day to your float, the time kept by your watch means nothing, and the restrictiveness of a daily schedule fades away.
Taking a float trip also offers abundant opportunities to view wildlife in a completely candid fashion. You never know what you will see when floating around the next bend, and those taking a trip of this nature are afforded great odds of seeing deer, turkey, ducks, geese, and an endless array of songbirds.
Take a Backcountry Hike
Few things in this world offer such relaxation as a solitary walk through America’s wildlands. There is something quite special to be said for being able to collect your thoughts under bluebird skies. This is further magnified when such time can be spent far away from any outside noise, such as the honking of horns, the roar of traffic, or the sounds of nearby construction.
Although many National Parks’ offices are closed at the current moment, most trails are designated as public use, and access to many of these trails can still be had. By locating such trails, you can strike out with a light pack and a good pair of boots, enjoying nature’s splendor with every step.
Take a Child Fishing
Taking your child fishing during these trying times can be another way to clear your mind, and find peace when it is not easily found. It is also worth considering that if a child is of the age to at least somewhat understand what is taking place, they too are likely feeling unsettled as well. At the current moment, a child’s day-to-day schedule has been interrupted, most schools are out of session, and even a child can understand when something is amiss.
Taking a child fishing does not always have to include a basket full of fish, or a trophy-sized catch. One has not truly witnessed happiness until they have seen a child who has caught a bluegill on a cane pole. It is these moments that will make memories that last a lifetime, and bring smiles to the faces of all involved.
Camp Under the Stars
Nothing cures the tension caused by ever-troubling media reports quite like trekking to a spot where no TV or radio can be found. A camping trip accomplishes this in a way that virtually guarantees a level of peace that is difficult to find elsewhere. There is something purely magical about sitting in a chair in front of your tent, with a campfire blazing, and the sun setting low over the horizon.
While some community campsites are currently closed, many backcountry sites are still open to use. Simply hike into your campsite at a leisurely pace, set up your campsite as desired, and let time and stress melt away.
Take a Drive in the Country
A simple drive through the country can often be all that is needed to ward off the effects of daily life’s stresses. Much like the Sunday afternoon drives of old, enjoyment can be found by simply taking in the sights and sounds of the countryside. Although driving is as much a part of everyday life as going to work and paying bills, few can remember the last time that they drove about with nowhere in particular to go.
With fuel prices down considerably, the timing is right for an excursion of this nature. Additionally, driving back roads can often yield a list of potential hunting properties, for which permission can be sought at a later date. Likewise, if access to local WMAs in your area is still permitted, a brief cruise through roadways affiliated with a given unit can often clue you in on points of interest.
Adventure Is Never Far Away
Though we find ourselves faced with less than ideal circumstances at the moment, those that find their enjoyment in the tranquility of the outdoors will always have a way to escape when the stressors of life begin to wear them thin. These adventures, and the peace that they bring, await us just over the next hillside.
(h/t Great American Wildlife)