How to: Microadventure, Fall Camping Edition

Harness the spirit of a big adventure, and condense it into a single Autumn weekend
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Sep 25, 2014 | By Alastair Humphreys

Editor's Note: Our buddy Alastair Humphreys is one of the most inspiring guys we know, and it's not because he's walked 1,000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert or rowed the Atlantic. It's because of his belief in microadventures — "a refresh button for everyday lives" — which inspire us to make the very most of every weekend. 

Summer is over, but outdoor souls need not be sad. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the days of hiking, camping, lake-jumping, and cooking over the fire are over until next year. Fall is a beautiful season. It’s more subtle and colorful and varied than the blazing bright blue days of summer. And, with only a little more planning and organization, it’s a wonderful season to get out and savor a microadventure

That said, here are five easy reasons why you should sleep on a hill this fall:

  • Everyone goes camping in the summer. Camping in the fall is a bit more of an adventure.
  • The weather is still good. Make the most of it before winter arrives.
  • Fall colors are beautiful.

  • Sunrise is at a more reasonable hour (meaning you won’t have to wake at 4am to enjoy it), and you’ll have longer to enjoy the stars at night as well.
  • Your morning swim (compulsory on any decent microadventure) now has a bit more bite to it, offers a bit more of a challenge, and packs a life-affirming howl!

(Remember, fall weather conditions will vary according to where in the world you live. So modify these tips according to where you live.) 

Wrap up warm. Fall is a beautiful time of year. But you’ll enjoy the night even more if you’ve got enough warm clothes. A woolly hat, gloves and a flashlight are essential. Whilst I am a massive advocate of the humble bivvy bag, remember that the weather can be wet in the fall. This can be fun, so long as you are prepared, don’t let it put you off. But adding a tarp (cheap from your local hardware store) to the bivvy bag is probably wise. Click here for some more information on this. 

Rather than rain though, dew is more of an issue in the fall. Take the biggest garbage bag you can find to stash your backpack and shoes in when you sleep so that they remain dry. If you can’t bear to leave your smartphone at home for a proper digital detox, at least install an app such as Star Walk which makes gazing up at the clear fall night skies even more impressive.
You don’t need to wait for weekends or holidays to have a microadventure, either. Grab a friend, a few colleagues from work, or go by yourself for a fix of solitude. Pack your gear early so that you are ready to head off as soon as you can escape from the office: the evenings are closing in a little now so you need to make the most of the daylight. Escape from the city — by train or car or bicycle to the nearest area of quiet countryside.

You don’t have to head to Yosemite — instead, focus on making your adventure hassle-free, simple and achievable. That’s the way to actually make it happen. To make a great memory happen rather than just reading yet another blog post about adventure and thinking to yourself “that would be fun to do... one day...” Today is your day, my friend! Go! Go sleep on a hill! Enjoy it! Then zoom back to work, reality, the real world the next morning filled with fresh air, memories and a sense of having stolen a genuine burst of adventure from the middle of yet another ordinary workweek, before winter's grasp hinders the easy accessability of your favorite campsites. 

As an authority on all things microadventure-related, remember that Alastair's appropriately titled book Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes should have a permanent place on the bookshelf of any well-intentioned adventurer.