We all dream of spending several days exploring the backcountry of Yosemite, or a month or two knocking out a choice section of the Pacific Crest Trail, but time is scarce. We can’t all take multiple weeks off of work. But adventure doesn’t have to be far-flung. It doesn’t even have to be relegated to your weekends. There’s plenty of time and opportunity for a micro-adventure—a small, midweek adventure between work hours—if you know where to look. British explorer Alastair Humphreys coined the term “micro-adventures” and defines it as any adventure that is “short, simple, local, cheap—yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.”
Humphreys recommends focusing on those hours between work in the middle of the week, reclaiming the hours between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Imagine car camping on a Tuesday and making it to work on time on Wednesday morning. Imagine leaving work and walking home, following only backroads and bringing a “pocket burrito” to eat for dinner on the way. Imagine running to the top of the tallest hill in your town on your lunch break. Take the spirit of a thru-hike, or an epic traverse, and distill it into something you can do in your metaphorical backyard. Do it once and it might become a healthy addiction. Here’s your guide for reclaiming your midweek and completing your first micro-adventure.
Tips for Getting Started
Put the adventure on the calendar and try to rope a friend into the activity. Having a partner will keep you accountable and prevent you from backing out at the last minute.
Pack a go-bag that has everything you’ll need for the adventure and stash it in your trunk. Pack another go-bag that has everything you need for work the next day.
If you’re on an overnight adventure midweek, most state parks have shower facilities. If not, bring deodorant and plenty of body wipes to clean up before you clock in at the office. Or go the extra mile and bring a portable shower.
Keep it simple
Don’t get too aggressive with your plan, but don’t forget this is an adventure. Some element of challenge or novelty will make it more interesting and keep you coming back for more.
Stay close to home
Time is the key factor in a micro-adventure, so reducing the commute will increase your chances of success. What adventures can you do straight out your home or office door?
Maps are your friend
Google Earth, paper maps, an atlas…pore over maps of your hometown and the surrounding area and find parks and public spaces within striking distance. What backroads or greenways can you explore? What’s the tallest hill? The biggest meadow?