As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” If you are an adventurer of any sort, you’ve found your flock. You know who to call when the weekend’s coming and the plans are simmering. You probably have experienced that uncanny ability of the wilderness to strip us down and make us raw, to test and solidify friendships, and ultimately, to unite people. You know that a week spent in the wild places with another is worth more than months at home. For this reason, it’s important to find good people with whom to explore, and nurture these relationships well. A compatible adventure buddy is like solid gold.
For three summers I lived up an inlet on the coast of BC, guiding groups of five to 12 high school students on six day mountaineering trips in the Coast Range. The guide staff worked extremely hard, and we also took care of each other very well. It was here that I began to realize the importance of getting out of my sleeping bag before the others to melt snow for coffee, and here that I first felt the love of sneakily-stashed chocolate or an extra bar. My summers at this job eternally attuned me to nurturing relationships with my adventure buddies. So whether you’re part of a congregation of alligators, a murder of crows or a wisdom of wombats, here’s some ideas to make the most of your pack:
1. Do the dirty work
I don’t mean breaking trail, carrying the heavy pack, or leading the crux pitch—that’s the plain ol’ work that most of us adventurers love. I’m talking about the unglorified, no fun, wag-bag-setting-up, water-filtering-when-you-just-want-to-be-sitting-by-the-fire kind of work. If you want to set a tone of care, be willing to wake up early to make coffee for your pals, take care of permits for the group or pull extra melting-snow duty. If you’re lucky, your friends will catch on and the dirty work will be done before you all know it!
2. Plan an entire trip and invite a friend
Just think—how amazing would it feel to be invited on your next bike tour or beautiful summer backpacking trip without having to do any of the leg work, group emails or logistics finagling? Like a dream, eh? So grab ahold of an idea, put together your pitch and make a friend a happy camper!
3. Pack notes
Before trips left every week at this camp, all of the guides who weren’t going into the field would scurry around basecamp like little elves, writing notes and compiling fun treats to sneak in the backpacks of guides headed out the next day. We called them pack notes, and they were a big deal. Unpacking your pack at camp on the first night was always full of fun and surprises, from heartfelt notes, to candy, to dress up clothes, and once even a watermelon. Find ways to sneak your friends pack notes for their next adventure, whether you’re joining them or not!
4. Share dreams and keep each other accountable
It’s a special thing that you share with your adventure buddies—a common love for getting off the beaten track and seeking out new experiences. We constantly need encouragement to move past routines and dream bigger dreams, and there’s nothing more helpful than having someone to do this with. Find creative ways to share the stoke with your buddies: randomly text them photos, share trip reports or blogs that you read or host a planning or brainstorming night.
5. Stick with it through the good and the bad
New experiences and living on the edge brings out both the best and the worst in people. In some ways, our relationships and the experiences we seek out with our adventure buddies mirror a significant relationship, and need to be nurtured similarly. So cultivate gratitude, keep communication going, be willing to work past hiccups and differences, and treat each other well when stress gets high.