A few weeks ago I was interviewed on the S’more Outdoor podcast (I’ll let you know when the interview goes live). It was so much fun–but one of the questions caught me off guard and I’ve been thinking about it since.
I was rambling on about how much fun it is to hike with friends and to hike with a group. But then Brett, the mastermind behind S’more Outdoor asked what people can do who don’t have anyone to hike with.
It got me thinking…how do you make outdoor friends?
I’m all about embracing solo outdoor adventures but there’s a lot to be said about having a good solid group of core hiker friends. Not only is it safer to hike with friends but it’s also really fun.
Here are a few ways to meet great hiker friends in any community and a few things that we’ve done to get to know the local outdoor vibe here in Laramie.
1. Take a class.
We’ve talked about the NOLS Wilderness First Responder Class before and the importance of outdoor education but taking a local class on anything related to the outdoors is a good way to meet people. Maybe you just go on a local wildflower hike put on by the community, or take a class at a local store like an REI or Sierra Trading Post. Regardless, you’ll make friends in the class–I promise.
2. Hang out at an outdoor shop, talk to employees, get a feel of the outdoor pulse in the community.
Whenever we relocate (and we moved a lot when we were both in the Army) one of the first things we always did was hit up the local outdoor gear shops. I’m not talking the big brand shops here–I’m talking about the corner shops downtown. The kind of shops where the owner gets down and dirty waxing skis and tuning bikes next to their employees. These are the kind of shops where you can really get to know the outdoor flavor of a town. More often than not people who work at gear shops are “in the know” when it comes to local trails, hiking, skiing or snowshoeing groups, climbing routes and mountain bike rides. Hit up a local shop and you’re one step closer to making true dirtbag friends.
Another great way to make outdoor friends is through volunteering. Maybe it’s with your local search & rescue or helping out at a ski race. It could even be something as simple as starting and leading a local hiking group, or volunteering first aid skills at a mountain bike or adventure race. A few of our favorite volunteer organizations are the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, who do a whole lot of work on some of our favorite Colorado trails and WY Outside, aimed at getting Wyoming youth outdoors. I’ve been fairly active with WY Outside this year and we’re always looking for help. Volunteer and you’ll make outdoor friends for life.
4. Start your own hiking group.
About a year and a half ago I started a local hiking group with a bunch of Mom’s who are all about schlepping kids up mountains. I did it because I wanted to meet women who like to get on the trails too. When in doubt, start your own hiking group, or mountain bike club or whatever. You’ll make friends and get to hit the trails together. Win/Win.
(p.s. if you’re in Laramie and you hike with kids and you haven’t come hiking with us you totally should!)
5. Befriend local outdoor bloggers/writers.
Yep, outdoor bloggers and writers want to hike with you. It’s fun to meet people in person who actually read what we write! It’s even more fun to share an adventure together. We’ve hiked with a lot of “strangers” who have found us through Just Trails, in every single case those strangers have turned into great friends. In fact…I love it when I can say that Al is out hiking with some guy he met on the internet!
Now it’s your turn. How do YOU make outdoor friends?