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What Makes You Go Wild?

Wild as in wild places, the great outdoors.

What drives you to pack up your gear, leave the safety and comfort of home, and head to nature’s domain?

To me it seems that millions of us have an urge, a need almost, to spend as much time as possible in the open air.

Often it doesn’t matter what we’re doing whether it’s fishing, going on a hiking trip, paddling, cycling, or sitting quietly by a stream, as long as we’re away from the confines of our urban environment.

Having worked as an outdoor guide for more than two decades, I’m often asked why I love the outdoors so much.

What drives me, what inspires me to spend so much of my time out exploring the wild places on our planet?

When people ask these questions, it often seems as if they find my wild forays a bit strange and even somewhat baffling.  Won’t I be cold, dirty, uncomfortable, hot, sweaty, wet, or possibly scared at times?  Yes, it’s almost guaranteed. Still, I love this question.  It’s a key to how I live my life.

So, why do I find myself looking over my shoulder out the window to the river, wishing I were there, even now when writing this piece?

While my answer by necessity has to include a myriad of reasons, it comes down to this.

When I lace up by hiking boots and head out on the trails, I’m immediately on an adventure into the great unknown.  No longer am I a passive observer.

No longer am I protected by walls, kept warm, cool, wet or dry by artificial means.  Each moment is new.  Even if I’m on a path I’ve traveled before, the weather’s different, the light offers new shadows, the sky is a different color, there are new smells and new sightings.  I’m a full player, fully immersed and fully engaged in the act of living.

In outdoor adventure, I’ve signed on the dotted line that I accept it might rain, the sun’s rays could burn my skin, it might snow, I might get dirty and sweaty and I could trip on a tree root and do a face plant in the mud.

Actors dream of the perfect Oscar winning script, the opportunity to act out the life of their dreams, to experience and test their full range of emotions.  I don’t have to go to Hollywood or wait years for something that’s even better.

Each time I hit the trail, a new adventure begins, one where I’m the marquee actor.

The difference is that I don’t know the script, meaning each moment is a mystery and a step into the unknown, the exciting, with experiences that will cast lasting memories I’ll cherish forever.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot.  Hiking, walking, paddling or pedaling in the outdoors almost always takes me to areas of great beauty, whether sublime or stunning, and in proximity with my fellow creatures that share this wild and wonderful ball of rock and fire.

That’s me, why I go wild.  But what about you?  Do you ever stop to think about what really draws you to head out to parts unknown?  If so, would you drop me a note and share those thoughts?

Oops.  Have to go.  Just noticed that the wind is picking up and the trees are starting to bend and sway, potentially signaling a storm brewing.  I love a good storm.  It’s the perfect chance to feel the wind pushing and pulling and feel the early drops of rain pelting my skin.

For more posts by Ward Luthi, click here. Ward is a blogger for JenningsWire.