Living by the principles of “Friluftsliv” (aka GET OUTSIDE!)

No, that’s not a typo. “Friluftsliv” is a Norwegian word for the cultural enchantment with nature and a “way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature,” according to Mother Nature Network.

Since moving out West to Montana for grad school, I have changed. I no longer feel like I should maybe go outside, and instead sit inside because it’s ridiculously cold or unbearably hot. Now, I NEED to get outside. It’s a primordial NEED to go hang out with trees on the side of the mountain, no matter the temperature or weather.

Overlook point in Kootenay
Overlook point in Kootenay

And I love it. Last year, I visited 13 National Parks in the U.S. and Canada and countless wilderness areas and national forests, driving thousands of miles to explore this great continent. In January, I hiked in the snow in Glacier National Park. In April, I scrambled up rocks in Moab, Utah. May: Yellowstone walking and Grand Teton spotting. June: summited 14ers in Colorado and hung my legs off ledges over the Rio Grande River in New Mexico. July: solo hikes in Rocky Mountain wilderness areas. September: crossed the continental divide in a snowstorm, overlooking frozen lakes in Alberta. December: desert solo hikes in Southern California.

The point of this isn’t to brag or to make anyone jealous. I’m merely trying to make the point that there are things to do outside, and I NEED to do them. And I want to take you with me.

Obligatory Delicate Arch photo!
Obligatory Delicate Arch photo!

The Huffington Post reports that hiking makes you happier and healthier. Hikers are creative: the fresh air gets our brain moving. Hiking can help heal your ailments, and get you seriously fit. We’re happy because “being out in nature, away from the business of our daily lives and technology, can allow people to connect with themselves and nature in a way that brings about peace and a sense of well-being.”

Its also good for the environment. The more time you spend outside in nature, the less time you spend at home with your lights on, TV blaring, which wastes energy. Of course, you’re burning fossil fuels when driving to a hike, but I’d like to think it balances out if you go hiking several times a week.

Don’t live in these crazy Rocky Mountain places? Search Recreation.gov or Wilderness.net to find a place near you. Take my word for it: nature is great. Go outside.

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