Here's an idea...let's do something different for Valentine's Day. Let's break away from the heart-shaped box of chocolates and spend some real quality time with our outdoor-loving special someones. Be it your mom, your friend, your partner, your dog, or even just taking some time for yourself, we hope you'll use Valentine's Day weekend to have a great outdoor experience. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Pick a new hike, run, raft, climb, or waterfall to visit. Hit the rock gym you've heard about but haven't checked out yet. Rent a kayak or paddleboard. Open the guide book to a random page and head out. Be spontaneous. It makes for a true adventure.
Pack a picnic with some of your local favorite foods, bring along a frisbee and blanket, and enjoy a casual day at the park. It's pretty simple. Depending on where you live you could pick a park that's in bloom or make a visit to the city gardens. Skip the clipped flowers and purchase a rose bush to plant at home. It's something you'll enjoy for years to come.
Pick up a one-day sno-park pass, rent some snowshoes from your local outdoor shop, print out a map of a nearby snowshoe trail, pack the thermos, and you're set.
Find a regional bird book, invest in a pair binoculars, and make a standing date to visit the various local wildlife refuges with the birder in your life.
Instead of signing up for a cooking class, register for a mountaineering, paddling, surfing, wilderness medicine, or climbing class. Learn something new with your adventure partner, then plan an outing to put your new skills to the test.
Rent a yurt or cabin for the weekend, bring your flannel pajamas (why not have matching ones for the whole family?) and enjoy an unusually fancy night in the woods. Bring a growler of your favorite beer, a deck of cards, and just relax.
Write down your bucket list adventures and put them in a jar. These could be nearby or they could be far away. Pick a day each month to draw a new adventure from the jar and either go do it or start planning. What's a bucket list good for if you never check anything off the list?
Order a National Park Pass online, pick up groceries to make a nice dinner at home, print out maps for the national parks you want to visit, open a beer or bottle of wine, and plan the trip you've been meaning to take. If you make the commitment by purchasing the pass and planning ahead, you are that much more likely to make it happen.
Okay, this one is a secret so don't tell everyone. The lottery for Enchantments permits starts on February 15. Similar to the National Park Plan above, plan your trip to the Enchantments the night before so you know which area you'd like to explore and when you'll be able to go. This will make the application process so much easier and more enjoyable.
If you don't have calendar for 2015 yet, find yourself one. I usually pick one with mountains or something from Ansel Adams. Sit down and plan one adventure a month for the next year. If you want to give this as a gift, plan the first adventure for later in February, include maps for the adventure and the calendar in a nice box, and plan the rest of the adventures together.
If you're planning to get your loved one a puppy for Valentine's Day, include collapsible bowls, a book on where to hike with your dog, and a nice hiking harness. Make sure this pup knows its life is going to be full of adventure!
Last but not least, we can't tell you the best places to find some alone time in the woods because then you probably wouldn't be alone out there. But there is a good book for that if you're in Oregon, and it's apparently hard to come by. If you want to get your hands on a copy...