Week 4

Ten Tips for Adventure

Feeling a little desperate for something different and fall-esque I decided to take a brief jaunt around central Iowa and do a little exploring. I had a place in mind that I found in the paper a few weeks ago in an article recommending peaceful nature parks in the area.

Now, when an article talks about a place in Iowa being “peaceful” and “remote” this is best translated into “you are never going to find it” and “I hope your two-wheel drive vehicle isn’t afraid of several miles of gravel and some vertical roads” because that was my first experience with Ackworth, Iowa on that bright, Wednesday afternoon.

Basically the terrain I was driving around for a solid two hours to find this place.
Here’s the online version of the article which actually has valuable information compared to the blurbs I read in the morning paper a few weeks ago. Always check both sources, kids. 

Anyway, I’m going to take this opportunity to offer ten tips about adventuring alone in the wilderness alone.

1. Have your phone fully charged.
Please have your phone fully charged. And if you plan on being somewhere remote with less than adequate reception, turn it on airplane mode and conserve your battery. (It also doesn’t hurt to make sure that your GPS is on because “Find my iPhone” saved this woman’s life a few days ago.)

2. Don’t listen to music, listen to the nature.
You’ll get more out of the experience and you’ll be hyper aware of your surroundings.

3. Walking into a spider web on the trail is a good thing.
Spiders usually spin their webs in the morning and you’re in a state park and having run-ins with them, it’s a pretty good indicator that no one has been that way for a while. Proceed with caution but also with a little ease because you shouldn’t run into anyone.

4. If it’s your first time in an area, don’t stray too far from the path.
Not only is it technically illegal but it can be dangerous. Trails usually avoid impossible terrain; it’s just a thing. (Seriously, do not stand on the edge of the cliff especially if you are alone. This is also misleading,a s there are no cliffs in Iowa but still.)

5. If you don’t know what poison ivy looks like, don’t risk finding out the hard way. 
Same goes for anything that might be poisonous so don’t eat berries, taste leaves, try mushrooms, or lick the moss on the north side of that really big tree. You won’t even get a good story out of that, just a lot of shame and regret.

6. Bring pepper spray.
In a pinch, it will slow down most malicious mammals. (Effectivity on the supernatural and mythological beings is still unknown.)

7. Be aware of the land you’re on.
I can now say, from personal experience, that standing on an Indian burial ground does feel very unlike standing in most other places.

8. Travel lightly but do bring a change of clothes or two. 
You never know what inspiration might dare you try and you don’t want to sit in the car covered in dry much or creek water because it is exactly as uncomfortable as it sounds. (I always bring a flowy skirt because if you’re in forest there is never an inappropriate time to bring one out.)
9. Shoot during midday. 
It isn’t ideal, stylistically, but if you’re alone and in a location that you’re new to, it’s the best decision you can make. Nothing sucks more than realizing it’s getting dark and you have no idea how to get back. (Also another good reason to conserve your battery and make use of GPS.)
10. Lastly, do not trespass. 
The law is complicated but it’s also finite so just avoid dealing with it and only shoot on public property. If you’re not sure whether it is or isn’t public property then ask someone or find somewhere else. (Here’s a little briefing on laws around photography in the U.S.)
Here’s that skirt, I actually picked it up from Goodwill earlier that day because I thought it would fit well.

These are my tips for solo adventuring through the wilderness but, honestly, the best way is to take all of these to heart as well and adventure with a friend. You’ll save your parents a heart attack as well as some of your  own sanity because no one actually wants to be headline.