Now that summer is finally coming around where I live, I’ve been outside more and more, and while it always feels nice to be outside in general it’s particularly enjoyable when you get to go somewhere new. So, with that mentality, my best friend Emily (ladyemrys.com) and I went on a nice nature hike today in a nearby forest preserve, complete with a picnic lunch and plenty of pictures. However, like always, there were a few bumps in the road, including screaming children, wayfinding, dehydration and the fact that we didn’t know our cameras as well as we thought we knew them.
We started off the day by eating our packed lunches at what we thought was a calm picnic area. However, quickly our conversation was interrupted by a small daycare/summer camp taking place in the campsite above us. Upon spotting us, the kids became absolutely obsessed with getting our attention seeing as we were older kids than them and we weren’t part of their group. It only took one kid to yell over to us to ignite a whole rebellion within the small group. Before we knew it we were getting more greetings than we knew what to do with. My favorite comment in particular that we heard from them was the greeting of “Hey Citizens!”, which seemed a bit strange coming from a child, but it certainly made Emily almost choke on her water with laughter.
Once they were gathered up by their counselors, Emily and I decided it would be best to start our picture taking at our lunch table and eating area now that it was free of screaming children. However, we had one little problem. Neither of us knew how to set the timers on our cameras! So we had a bit of a setback while we fiddled with the many options on our cameras, ranging from filters and lenses to zooms and flashes before we finally gave in and were forced to consult with Google to figure it out. Thankfully, Google knew how to help us and we began our photography session starting with us walking into the woods.
At the beginning we were taking pictures of everything, hoping we would get that one good nature picture that we could hang up or put into black and white. Flowers, bushes, trees, landscapes and the like. Quickly, we came to the conclusion that there is such a thing as too many pictures of trees. So, we started taking some pictures of ourselves and each other, and while it wasn’t the original plan, we were pleasantly surprised by our outcome.
We followed the trails away from the picnic grounds and away from the Nature Center further into the woods in search of new settings for our pictures that weren’t just green trees. We found small unused trails (covered in spider webs) along the river and other small hideouts, but our personal favorite surprise location was the small trail that led to a homemade stick hut. Not only were we confused about who made it and who used it, but how it has withheld the elements and the people that have likely explored around it like us. Never the less, we took the opportunity to get pictures in it and near it. Except when we tried to leave the small inlet we were surprised to spot a deer blocking our exit! While Emily was able to get the moment on camera, I, unfortunately, wasn’t. So we silently began to creep along the trail in the direction the deer went, following her as we walked alongside the woods on the path in hopes I could get a picture of my own.
Unfortunately, by the time the deer went out of sight, we were in an entirely new area of the woods that we hadn’t explored yet. We were a bit lost, surrounded by trees and forks in the road that all looked identical. As a result, we were forced to resort to wandering. We let chance take us down different paths to new hidden clearings and rivers, including plenty picturesque bridges. It felt nice to feel like you could explore everywhere in a place without constraints, without a set path or a set deadline. This feeling empowered us to just keep walking, bringing us farther and farther into the nature preserve.
When we realized that we had gone far out of our way on our little wayfinding adventure, we decided to turn back and make the half an hour trek back towards the Nature Center where we began. Knowing we didn’t really have to save water anymore since we were heading back, we opened up our bags and reached for our water bottles, ready to reward ourselves, only to find them to be empty! How did that happen? Unknowingly, we had drank them all while we were out and we ended up finding ourselves tired and thirsty the whole way back. To be honest, the way back, once the pictures were taken and the adventure going out was done, it was a bit miserable. We were sweaty and disgusting, dehydrated and exhausted. I think anyone who has spent that much time outside in the heat can relate. But was it worth it? Definitely. Would I do it again tomorrow? Of course.
There’s really nothing like being out in nature on a beautiful summer day with your best friend. If you ever get the chance to ditch the laptop and Netflix in favor of a nice day spent outdoors, try it out and I promise you won’t regret it. You may see bugs and you may get a little sunburnt, but in the end, the feeling of having an adventure makes it all worth it. Like Chris McCandless said, “The very basic core of a (wo)man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.” Take a step out of your comfort zone and go into the wild!
P.S. Don’t worry I’m planning on writing more soon with summer finally here!