When will you become Outdoor Intermediate?

beginner hiker woman

I get this question a lot.

I started this blog three years ago, and to some, it might make sense for me to want to move on from the beginner stage. To climb a 14er, or ski some blues, or to at least stop calling myself a beginner now that I know how to pitch a tent on my own.

There’s been a lot of wonderful momentum for making the outdoors more welcoming, but I often feel as if being a beginner is only okay when it’s a stepping stone to being EPIC. Being a slow hiker is fine because it’s how you get to be a fast hiker and how you gain the experience to backpack or run ultras or climb massive mountains.

For me, being a slow hiker is fine because I like to stop and take a lot of pictures. I like to take in the view along the way. I just like a leisurely stroll to be honest (and for the record I’m solidly middle of the pack now, but that makes me slow for Colorado).

And maybe it’s because I live in Colorado. World-class athletes live, play, and compete here, making even my fellow weekend warriors pretty hardcore.

My gear may be getting better with time, but my aspirations to be epic haven’t quite kept pace. Some weekends I just want to sleep in and sit on my couch. And no that’s not a great way to get better, faster, stronger, more adventurous, whatever, but I’m happy with where I am.

To be honest? I’m not sure I ever want to be epic (at least in the Instagram sense). I really like going hiking…for a few hours. I like to trail run too, but half the time I decide to walk instead. I am not sure I like camping enough to do it multiple days in a row. I may never ski anything but an easier blue.

And for some reason, that doesn’t feel like enough. It feels like I’m the only one. I know there are a ton of great groups out there doing good work to give newbies a welcoming place to get started.

But the key word is to get started – you’re not supposed to stay at that beginner pace forever. You’re supposed to move on to climbing mountains, or go backpacking for a weekend, or ski blacks.

I don’t feel uncomfortable because I think I’m not welcome, or because I worry about slowing people down. I feel uncomfortable because I’m perfectly fine with being a perpetual beginner, and I actually don’t want to lose that.

Published by Laura Cardon

Laura Cardon moved to Colorado as an adult and quickly realized how difficult it was to get started exploring the outdoors in a state full of experts. She founded Outdoor Beginner in 2014 to fill the gap in beginner-friendly content for camping, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. In addition to Outdoor Beginner, she coaches beginner trail runners and works at Runners Roost in Golden, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse and toddler.

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