Mediocre Pursuits

Quake Lake Hammock

A tribute to the casual approach.

What did you do last weekend? A simple, everyday question. One meant for casual conversation. Yet in Bozeman, it takes on a different meaning.

On a typical Monday morning, coworkers and friends swap stories, attempting to one-up each other with weekend pursuits of “epic” proportions. Some compare digital mileage logs, as others brag about seeing bears or wolves or a wolverine. We eye-roll as a coworker recalls his weekend camping in the backcountry, but only shows pictures void of geographical markers so as not to disclose the secret location. I usually listen for a while, eventually stealing off to the coffee maker, busying myself with a fresh grind while climbing grades are argued over and fish pictures passed around.

We don’t want to run the Rut or the Ridge, nor do we want to spend our summer sunlight hours training for them.

While the adrenaline-fueled weekend is a common way of life around the Bozone, there are those among us whose excursions lean toward a more modest outdoor life: plans that are mediocre at best. Our adventures may be less intense, yet we are nonetheless content with our weekends exploring the great outdoors.

We don’t want to run the Rut or the Ridge, nor do we want to spend our summer sunlight hours training for them. We’re satisfied with an easy trail run or local 5k fun run. Sure, we’ll rock climb (as long as it’s low-grade, or indoors and away from the elements) and we’ll go camping (unless it’s below 20 degrees), but should you invite us to fish, don’t be surprised if we bring a book along.

We don’t need to backpack 15 miles to find the perfect secret camping spot, and we’d rather not live on dehydrated meals for days on end—instead preferring a good grill-out over the campfire with a cooler full of beverages. We love a day out on the water, letting the sun bake our skin while floating in kayaks—but we’d prefer not to dodge rocks and risk being overturned. We simply want to be out on the water laughing with our friends. We’re all for enjoying the various activities our landscape provides; we just want to go at a slower, easier pace.

We take time to notice the tiny intricate details of nature as we explore.

Contrary to the Montana way of life, some weekends we prefer to stay at home. We want to sit on our patios drinking coffee and reading books. We want to enjoy restful weekends spent crafting, tending to our plants, working on the house, or simply sitting outside at our favorite brewery with friends.

Yes, we want to maximize the sunlight of summer, but we also want a nap or two. We’ll hike, only to spend the afternoon relaxing in hammocks while eating our trail snacks and taking in the views. We enjoy a variety of sports and are content being dubbed “Jack of All Trades, Master of None.” We are mediocre at best, finding contentment in our three-mile jaunts up Middle Cottonwood or Lava Lake. For us, the joy of outdoor pursuits lies not in pushing our limits, but in savoring the simple moments.

We take time to notice the tiny intricate details of nature as we explore. We stop to admire the fire-engine-red mushrooms calling a moss-covered log home. We identify the birds we see, letting their chirps be the melody of our hikes. We hit the trail for no other reason than to sit at the top of a mountain and sketch the view in our journals. We appreciate the stars illuminating the sky as we sit around the campfire with friends and let the moment infuse our souls. We find peace and solace in the mountains. Our outdoor pursuits may never lead us to be featured on podcasts or documentaries, but we’re content in living our simple outdoor lives.

So here’s to those of us who enjoy the great outdoors at a slower pace. We take in all it has to offer, and we still have our toenails on Monday morning. Ask me what I did this weekend, and I’ll prove it to you.