Know Your Limits: 4 Tips for Outdoor Newbies

So, here’s a story for you. My first month in the great state of Colorado, I went on a climbing adventure with my buddies. To get to our climbing spot for the day, we crossed an ambling creek early in the morning, not realizing that the same creek would turn to raging rapids after nightfall due to the snow melting high in the mountains and running down into the valley. Yeah, that shit happens super fast. When we returned around 9pm that evening, we had to wade through neck deep rapids, fashion makeshift harnesses for our pups, attaching them to us so they wouldn’t get swept away. Hauling hundreds of pounds of climbing gear…in the dark…through raging rapids…as an outdoor newbie ( even as an experienced outdoor’s man or woman) puts me in the Dipshit category and we were all lucky we didn’t wind up at the bottom of a mountain stream. Fortunate for you, I’ve used my bonehead experiences to compile a list of tips for outdoor amateurs that, if followed, will keep you safe and alive.

In a New York Minute:
I’m an Eagle’s fan ( and if you’re not, then you’re even more of a dipshit than I thought). That being said, the lyrics to their song “In a New York Minute…everything can change” ring true. When you’re in the outdoors, a bright, sunshiny day can turn into a torrential downpour. A fanciful backcountry skiing adventure can trigger an avalanche, and lightning can strike. Always be aware of your surroundings: the weather, snow pack, treelines, and exact location. Scan the area to locate a good place to take cover if inclement weather approaches, carry an avalanche beacon, and make sure you stay on-trail.

Water, Water, Everywhere:
There’s a ton of water in the outdoors, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s safe to drink. Always pack enough water for at least a rigorous day of outdoorsing (32 ounces or more). It’s also wise to invest in some method of water sanitation such as iodine drops or water purification tablets. Never drink standing water. Never allow yourself to get dehydrated.

Your Body Can Break:
Shocking, I know…but bones break. Tendons tear. And dreams shatter. Sorry to be dramatic, but if you push your body too hard and don’t take necessary precautions you’re gonna be crying like a baby when your entire ski season is ruined because you blew out your meniscus doing a ski run that was well beyond your skill level. This piece is called “Knowing Your Limits” for a reason. So, get acquainted with them.

If it Doesn’t Feel Right, Don’t Do It:
I learned this rule after my little Deliverance episode. Something about crossing a creek with raging rapids at night just didn’t feel right, even though my more experienced and more knowledgeable friends were telling me otherwise. Listen to your gut. If you aren’t comfortable rappelling 200 feet into a canyon, hiking to 14,000 ft, or doing a double black diamond, then don’t do it. This doesn’t make you a wimp, it makes you smart, in one piece, and alive.


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