From Mountain Khakis

The Art Of Making Friends On The Trail

©istockphoto/AJ_Watt

©istockphoto/AJ_Watt

While many begin their outdoor lives in the pursuit of natural beauty and in the search of solitude, many fall in love with the outdoor lifestyle because of the amazing number of profoundly interesting people they meet and once-in-a-lifetime friendships that form because of it. Trail life seems to be magnet for people with interesting stories and life experiences, and you may find the people who’ve decided to strap on a backpack and step out of the normal world have usually done so for a variety of compelling reasons. Here are a few ways to help cultivate unforgettable friendships on your next outdoor adventure.

Open-mindedness
For the most part, people who find themselves on a backpacking trip or just sleeping outside in general are usually of the more open-minded variety. Yet humans have an unfortunate track record of fearing the unknown, and fear usually uninvites you to the best parties and is responsible for the most missed opportunities. Make sure to keep an open mind and an open heart on all your trips. Even if you’re a veteran adventurer, be open to new ideas, to detours or a change in the itinerary. Leaving room for the unknown opens up possibilities and experiences along the way that may far exceed even the best-laid plans.

Generosity
Many outdoor gurus will tell you, the people you meet on the trail tend to be some of my most giving individuals you’ll ever encounter. Some of the best conversations you may ever have will be over  a meal as exquisite as a shared pot of chicken noodle soup and the last two cans of beer. Lend a hand to someone you meet: invite someone to share the campfire, a campsite or your map. More often than not,the payoff is well worth it. You may even find that extending yourself and your resources while on the trail may translate to becoming more open, generous and even more prosperous in other areas of your life. However, as with any situation, you can maintain a hospitable demeanor while still staying in tune with your instincts. If a person or situation seems off, listen to your gut and distance yourself.

Curiosity
It’s not a new discussion: technology is changing our communication, and more and more studies are showing its effect on our ability to have successful, in-person interactions. Being in nature tends to automatically remove many of our normal, daily distractions, but nonetheless, try to be present. Put the gadgets away and get interested in those around you. Ask questions. Something as simple as, “where are you from?” or “what made you decide to go on this trip?” can open up a dialogue that may not only help you get to know someone better, but may also uncover unexpected things about yourself as well.

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