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How Do You Decide Where to Adventure?

By Johnny Molloy • Nov 19, 2017 at 7:30 AM

Every outdoor adventure starts with a dream. You find somewhere on a map — a meandering river, national park or wilderness. Or someone regales you with a tale from an unseen and intriguing place. Hearing the story makes you want to go there and experience it yourself.

Many of us dream of going to Yellowstone National Park or some other iconic destination. Others want to engage in something truly out of the ordinary, such as traversing the North Pole in a gigantic Humvee, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Others have more accessible ambitions. In our region, common dreams are hiking the balds of Roan Mountain and bicycling the entire Virginia Creeper Trail. Hikers want to trek the Appalachian Trail through our region. Waterfallers want to see all the local cataracts.

My dreams are big and small. I want to paddle Alaska’s Yukon River but I also want to paddle the Holston River to Knoxville then see a Tennessee football game.

However, I most often go where the books take me. After signing a book contract, I then explore the destination while undertaking the book assignment. For example, when writing Paddling South Carolina I had the privilege (and sometimes the task) of paddling 40 different waterways in the Palmetto State. For Best Tent Camping: Florida, I camped at over 50 campgrounds down there. I recently completed a hiking guide to the Raleigh, North Carolina area, hiking the local trails.

I wrote a book entitled Canoeing & Kayaking Florida. The guide has hundreds of miles of waterways. It is very challenging to keep it up to date. Every winter I visit the Sunshine State and paddle or re-paddle rivers. That continual updating dictates where adventures occur.

So how do you decide where you undertake your adventures? Your primary considerations are time, money, ability and desire. For example, climbing Mount Everest is a desire of many outdoor enthusiasts. Speaking for myself I have neither the time, the money, ability nor desire.

Time is the most restricting factor. The chains of the modern electronic age tie our hands, being “on call” 24/7 since our phones keep us in constant contact.

Ability is the second most restricting element. Even if you have the physical strength you may not have the skills. A strong, young hiker untrained in whitewater can’t guide a kayak through the New River Gorge. Or, it may be simply that you can’t do what you once did. I used to off-trail backpack in the Smokies through godforsaken terrain. Now I don’t know how I did it.

Money can be problematic on two fronts — the expense of getting somewhere for the adventure and the purchase or rental of gear necessary to undertake a trip. My two biggest expenses are gasoline and camping gear -- from jackets to tents.

Desire is where our personal preferences come into play. I desire to drive through Arizona’s Saguaro Cactus National Monument, but do not desire to hike through it. One person may seek wild whitewater rapids of the Nolichucky River gorge straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border and another man may desire to float the calm, lower stretches of the Nolichucky to fish.

I do desire adventure, and will continue to dream, plan, then as David Crockett so aptly put it “Go ahead.”

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