When I first started gearing up for my upcoming adventures, I began following a bunch of established adventurers and travel writers/filmmakers on Twitter. One such adventurer I’ve really become a fan of is Alastair Humphreys, a British national who has cycled across the globe, canoed down the Yukon River and walked the entire length of the holy Kaveri River in India, among other awesome things. Not to mention he is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. What a title.
One of the things Alastair has become known for are his Microadventures. He’s even written a book about them. The idea behind microadventures is that they are, according to the book’s informational page, “adventures that are close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective. A microadventure has the spirit (and therefore the benefits) of a big adventure. It’s just all condensed into a weekend away, or even a midweek escape from the office.”
It’s an intriguing idea, especially since I’ve just quit my job to backpack around Spain and have recently signed up to teach English in Vietnam for 5 months. Adventures can still be had at home, in familiar and unfamiliar places all around us. Living in southern Indiana, I am blessed to have some beautiful hiking available to me. While it isn’t mountain ranges and valley gorges, Indiana has always been home and I have a deep love for the woods. Down here we’ve got beautiful trails all over the Hoosier National Forest. I’ve written about Hemlock Cliffs for Indianapolis Monthly and am eagerly awaiting the next call where someone asks me to head out into the trees. Earlier this week the weather was so nice (about 65 degrees and sunny; perfect for a March day in Indiana) that I decided after work I had to go for a little hike.
Ferdinand State Forest quickly became one of my favorite places when I moved here about a year and a half ago. More often than not, when I head down there I end up being the only person in the entire 900 acre forest. I’m not sure how, but I love it. I recently went on an organized hike through a section of old growth in Ferdy Forest that has been scheduled for logging. It really would be a shame to see some of that go. Large sections of the forest have already been logged and, while it’s still a pretty hike, the old growth section was just stunning.
This time for my #microadventure I decided to revisit an old friend — the Ferdinand Forest Fire Tower. This rickety hunk of metal, painted green and covered in names of terrified hikers, towers more than 8 stories into the sky. I’m counting the flights of stairs for that. I have no idea how tall it is, but at the top it feels as though the wind is determined to knock you off to a certain doom. So, naturally, I decided to climb to the top for the second time, this time with no one around to hear me scream.
I think terrifying things make for the most gratifying adventures. I’m not talking dancing barefoot in a scorpion den, but instead about doing things outside of your comfort zone. I’m traveling across the globe not once but twice this year all by myself. I am, in a word, terrified. I am also more excited than I can articulate. There are times I am consumed by my thoughts of travel, and I don’t mind at all. Walking through the woods this past week was one of those times. When it came time to hike up the tower, all my thoughts turned toward putting one foot in front of the other. That tower performs a magic trick with each step. With each plod of the boot, it manages to sway back and forth a minimum of three times. Step. Sway sway sway. Step. Incessant wobbling. All the way to the top.
But man, that view. All of creation suddenly appears below your toes and the wind doesn’t matter (so long as you have a good grip on a post). Views like this one are the things I will miss most about home. As my adventures take me to the far reaches of the globe, as I hope they will for many years to come, I hope I make the time to come back here and admire these Hoosier trees, the same trees my grandpa would walk with me through, the same trees I would spend hours daydreaming underneath in my youth, the same trees I still find comfort in their shade and, on my own #microadventure this week, towered high above.