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Adventure, Alpine / March 27, 2016

The Secret to Planning a Weeknight Adventure

Written by: Eric Hockman

With the majority of our population working a Monday to Friday, 9-5 schedule, the crowds that flock to the mountains, trail-heads, and recreation areas in our respective outdoor playgrounds can be overwhelming. In an attempt to stray from the norm, seek solitude in the mountains, and escape the mass crowds that swarm to the mountains like a moth to the flame, I have embraced the practice of being a “weeknight warrior.” Typically, a weeknight adventure requires you to think ahead – to plan out details that help you efficiently transition from the office to the trail, so you can get your adventure fix in midweek.

The alarm is set for 3:45 AM as I crawl into my cold weather down bag and tug on the draw strings of my hood to seal in some warmth. The current time is… later than I’d like to know – All I know is that I’ve got to be at the annual company meeting by 9am tomorrow. The temperature is supposed to get down into the single digits tonight; after all, it’s mid-January in the Rockies. Once the buzzer goes off in the morning I’ll have approximately 5 hours and 15 minutes to make coffee, warm up breakfast, hoof it up the side of Loveland ski area, join my skis together to make a snowboard, slide down the mountain that I just climbed up, jump in the truck, drive a little over an hour and finally arrive on time and in good form for work. However, for first tracks in the morning, it’ll all be worth-while. I just pray that there’s unlimited coffee at this year’s meeting.

Just like clock-work, the alarm went off long before the sun made an appearance.  As a result of a little planning, I made it to the meeting on time. Fortunately for me, the caffeine gods must’ve heard my prayers, because there most definitely was unlimited coffee for our year-end wrap up. While physically drained from the pre-dawn hike and a lack of sleep, it was completely worth the effort for a dawn patrol at the ski area without another soul in sight.

While most of the ski area rests at night, the snow cats act as nocturnal creatures of the night.

Don't forget to make it to work on time.

No rash decisions should be made before coffee.

Pick a location that you can reliably make it to work on time.

Working your typical Monday through Friday schedule definitely creates some restrictions for when you can venture off into the mountains. As a result, it has challenged me to seek alternatives to being a full-time weekend warrior. This past winter has been spent embracing the mantra of being a weeknight warrior, which is exactly as it sounds – the opposite of being a weekend warrior. It took me a few trips to figure things out, because let’s face it – it takes a fair amount of effort to make a journey happen between the hours of 5pm and 8am. Each and every challenge has been well worth the heavy-eyed day that could surely ensue.

Planning out a weeknight adventure is not nearly as intense as it might sound, though. OK, maybe in certain locations it takes a bit more dedication and drive to make it happen.  However, during certain times of the year when the days grow longer and the weekend crowds swell in mass – why not take a shot at planning your very own weeknight escape?

“Escape the mass crowds that swarm to the mountains like a moth to the flame. ”

Here are some pointers on how to make your weeknight adventure become a reality.

Pick a location within reason: Some folks will have better access to their favorite zones than others. Find a couple of places you know you can access reliably and still make it to work on time the next day.

Prepare like you would for any other adventure: Start packing early – having gear staged in your vehicle will equate to more play time and less time scrambling for your gear at the trail head. Once 5pm hits, and your desk chair is left slowly rotating as you bolt for the door, it’s a race against the clock to utilize the next fifteen hours for your time away. Aren’t you glad you packed the night before?

Be open to going with the flow: Setting a goal for what you want to squeeze in after or before work hours is good for planning out the activity you’d like to do – but don’t be completely against switching things around if an opportunity to do something different presents itself. After all, that’s one of the best parts about seeking adventure.

Plot-out your general timeframe: While I just noted that it’s good to go with the flow, it is equally important to have an idea of how long preparation realistically takes. Adding up the time it takes to get ready for your trek will be very helpful for setting the time on that early AM alarm you absolutely can’t wait to hear. Hit snooze once, maybe you’re ok… Snooze twice and you might be late to work.

Think ahead for the next workday: The adventure doesn’t end once you get to your vehicle. Don’t forget to bring a change of clean clothes that you can slip into after enjoying your journey, because no one like’s a stinky co-worker.

 

A gas burner stove wastes no time making coffee and heating up your breakfast.

Standing on top of the ski area at night is possibly the most quiet time you can find at the resort.

Staging your gear in your vehicle helps promote efficiency.

What was to be a single beer with friends, once the German music began, it was an easy decision to shift my plans and enjoy another mug of beer.

Finally, take a moment to reflect while you’re on your journey. If you’re on a solo mission like I typically am during the week – take a moment to reflect and breathe in your surrounding environment, just don’t forget… you still need to report to work on time!

Drawing mountains in anticipation of climbing mountains in the early morning hours.

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about the author

Eric Hockman

From epic backcountry journeys on the mountain bike to splitboarding tours through snow-covered peaks, Eric constantly craves what’s just around the bend. A professional ski tuner and cycling mechanic by trade, he now works for a local cycling company in Golden, where he takes off on the weekends and maxes out his vacation schedule, seeking adventures around the mountains of Colorado and other regions of the country.

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