Adventure in your own backyard

Standing in the middle of Albion Falls. I can picture it now, reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro at the end of an epic climb.  Next time, it’ll be a helicopter ride across the Grand Canyon, and sometime after, I’ll backpack around Europe. Each of these experiences would constitute the adventure of a lifetime. After this, my life would be full of meaning and my adventurous spirit would be fulfilled. Until then, I will have to be satisfied with my monotonous life in Hamilton.

“But wait,” you say…”Hamilton isn’t boring. Give your head a shake and look around!” And of course, you’re right. It doesn’t take much effort to realize that Hamilton is full of wonderful places to explore. The difficult part is initiating the effort. Especially once school starts, we get so absorbed in a regular daily schedule that we forget about our adventurous sides. It’s too easy to claim being “too busy” to go out and explore. But the truth is, although being adventurous may seem like a challenge that requires hours and hours of your day, there is actually so much to explore in our own backyards. Once you take that first step, the rest comes naturally.

What do I mean by going on an “adventure in your own backyard”? The simplest explanation is that there is always something new to experience in the area you live in. Just for fun, I looked up the definition of ‘adventure’ on Google. I found some questionable material, but the one I liked the best was: “An unusual or exciting experience”. The word ‘hazardous’ also came up in some of the definitions, but that isn’t a requirement in the kind of adventure I’m talking about. The amount of hazard you choose to include is entirely up to you (be careful!), as long as you fulfill the requirement of doing something new and exciting.

An exciting adventure may include unforseen obstacles!

An exciting adventure may include unforseen obstacles, like the steep rocky hill at this Bruce Trail segment in Hamilton.

This summer, most of my adventures have been on my bicycle. I rode up the mountain with a friend last week for the first time, and we discovered a new waterfall purely by chance. Volunteering in the downtown area taught me how to navigate my bike through the city, and it became clear that I can get anywhere I need to go on two wheels. And to avoid a complete sense of comfort and ease, I am always looking to challenge myself a little bit more. In June, another friend and I took a lengthy trail to Tiffany Falls, only to realize we’d have to walk our bikes for a significant portion of the ride.

And that’s the beauty of adventure. The planned becomes the unplanned, the unknown becomes familiar, and something new may be found in an area you thought was already discovered. When I first arrived in the city, taking the HSR to Westdale was a feat to be proud of. Now, I’m always looking to dig a little deeper into the nature and culture that Hamilton has to offer. Everyone will find excitement in something different. Taking baby steps to make small discoveries can be just as fulfilling as traveling great distances and participating in extreme activities. So find a friend, pull out a map, and get out there! The city is waiting.