Written By : Justin Jaeger
Make It Count
Sometimes you only get one day. As much as you might dream of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for months on end, cycling across the country, or even just camping for an entire weekend, you often only get a single day. Sometimes only a few hours.
Whether it’s work, raising a family, or other adulting tasks, taking multiple days, weeks, or months off for an extended adventure is difficult for most people to do. So what do you do if you only have a day? Do you stay home, thinking it’s not enough for a proper adventure? Or do you find ways to make the most of it?
Recently, I had a spare day that I was able to spend outdoors. I was able to step away from work (hard to do when you are self-employed and work from home), step away from my parenting responsibilities for a few hours (shoutout to my wife!), and ignore household chores for a day (not practical when you are trying to sell your house).
Instead of doing what seemed productive, logical, and useful, I opted for a day to tend to my soul.
I loaded the car with my bike, my packraft, my fishing rod, and some snacks, drove an hour into the nearby National Forest, and got lost. Not lost on the map, but lost in nature, lost in my mind, and lost in the solitude provided by a float down a wild and scenic river.
The Joy of a Multisport Adventure
Many people are especially passionate about one activity or sport. Whether that’s cycling, fishing, climbing, hiking, foraging, or anything else, they can easily spend an entire day, weekend, or lifetime doing only that thing. I, on the other hand, am blessed with (or cursed with) a love of all things. I want to do it all, often at the same time. I can never decide on just one thing to do, as everything sounds appealing. While this can often be frustrating, leading to indecision, I’ve finally found that multisport adventures are my cup of tea.
On this particular day of freedom, I opted to go bikerafting. Not only would I spend half of my day biking on secluded gravel roads in the forest, but I would then spend the other half paddling down a wild and scenic river in my packraft. And thanks to my ultra-packable tenkara fly fishing rod, I would also be searching for trout along the way. Three of my favorite activities in one day. That was more like it.
Upon parking the car, I strapped my packraft and paddle to my bike rack and threw a backpack carrying snacks and fishing gear over my shoulders. I spent the next 2 hours casually peddling down quiet gravel roads in the forest, enjoying every moment. After 10 miles of peddling the bike upstream, near the famed Pere Marquette River in Michigan, I found a nice spot to hop in the river. I inflated the packraft, strapped the bike to the raft, nibbled on some cheese, and ventured back downstream, towards my car.
What freedom you feel when you are self-sufficient, carrying two modes of transportation with relative ease. After a few minutes, I passed by a group of kayakers unloading their watercraft from a large van. They stared in near-disbelief at this peculiar sight. I smiled and paddled on.
For the next few hours, I meandered the calm, quiet waters of this famous paddling destination. Thanks to a permit system for this river, only a few people are allowed on it each day. I only passed by 2 others all day on this beautiful summer day.
As my first time bikerafting, I have to say that it was far easier than I imagined. Of course, a calm river without any rapids makes it easy and [relatively] safe. And yes, I had my PFD with me at all times. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a few spare hours than by combining three of my favorite activities into one journey. And in case you are wondering, I didn’t catch a single fish. But I did look for them, and that was enough.
Making Multisport Trips More Fun
Almost everything I do these days combines multiple activities into one. I always look for ways to combine hiking, paddling, fishing, cycling, and camping together. If I’m lucky, it’s all of them in one. More often than not, it’s just a couple. Either way, I get to satisfy my own, divided heart, that wants to do a little bit of everything. The key to success though is versatility.
I need gear that allows for versatility, rather than highly specialized gear that can only be used for one thing. For example, my only bike is a hybrid; it works well on gravel and mild mountain bike trails but also functions efficiently on the pavement. A packraft is also super versatile. Folded down, it can fit into a backpack or strapped to a bike rack. You can use it to access fishing spots on big lakes or to float down rivers. You can even conquer white water in them.
Clothing choices are also extremely important when it comes to multisport trips. That’s why I love my Trailhead shorts. They are light and stretchy, making them super comfortable for hiking and biking. But they also function well as swim shorts and dry quickly, making them great to wear when paddling as well. I no longer buy clothing that can’t serve multiple purposes. So far, the Trailheads from Coalatree are one of the most useful pieces in my closet.
Obviously, we can spend ages talking about gear and clothing systems. The most important thing, however, is to invest in gear that allows you to be you. If you are a diehard mountain biker, spending a few thousand dollars on a bike makes sense. But if you’re like me, you’d happily take a much cheaper bike so that you also have some money left over for a packraft, an ultralight backpacking setup, and fly fishing gear.
Don’t Discount Small Adventures
It’s hard to imagine that just a few hours spent outdoors can actually work to free your mind and soul. It’s easy to discount these types of adventures when you see tons of people on social media hiking hundreds of miles or riding their bikes to every country in the world.
While I aspire to longer adventures and will do my best to make them a reality, I also plan on making the most of my time in between. By combining sports, I can make a single afternoon feel like an entire weekend. Or I can make a short weekend feel like a long week.
So the next time you have half a day to kill, make it count. Don’t sit on your phone. Don’t watch Netflix or mow the lawn. Stop working for a few hours and let yourself feel free. Give your heart the adventure it craves, even if only for a few moments. You’ll be glad you did.