You missed the point of this blog.

When people have talked to me lately about Outdoor Beginner, I’ve noticed more and more often they say some variation of “I love your blog, but I could never do that.” Or, “I’ll never be at your level” or, “what you do is so far beyond me.”

And if you think that, you’ve missed the point.

The reason this website exists is to encourage other people to try new things, even if they seem scary, impossible, or totally out of reach. Even if there’s “no way” they can do it.

I mean with that attitude, definitely, there will be no way you can do it. But I started Outdoor Beginner to take down that exact line of thinking. By breaking down the outdoors into less intimidating baby steps. By showing you that you can try something new. By giving you advice as someone who is/was also terrified of everything I’m writing about.

All of the things I’ve tried and written about (rock climbing, ice climbing, snorkeling, trail running, skiing, the list goes on) I did because I decided to swallow my fears and just TRY them. Just to see what would happen.

Learning how to water ski in 2012. Photo by my adoring husband. The first time I fell I realized I wasn’t going to die, and then I was really determined to figure out how to get up.

I have a fear of heights. And open water. And I’m generally a scaredy cat. But I tried rock climbing, I went snorkeling, I took a ski lesson and then took lots and lots of baby steps to finally feel confident three years later. And most importantly, I started realizing that a lot of things are much more doable than I had originally thought, and I wouldn’t have been so scared if I had another first-timer explaining to me exactly what things would be like.

So I started Outdoor Beginner.

A fear of getting started is normal. But this website is a place where you can set aside your fears and realize that you can baby step your way into things you’ve always wanted to do.

My first time skiing. I ended this day crying and scooting down the mountain on my butt while my husband walked my skis down. But I got a taste of something I liked, so I slowly working my way up to more skiing. I turned that into a beginner’s guide to skiing Copper Mountain that you can read here.

Outdoor Beginner is a place where you can see that you don’t have to be hardcore to be outdoorsy. A place that makes you feel comfortable, where you can get the information you’re actually looking for to feel like you can try something too.

I will absolutely acknowledge that I have the privilege of being white and having the skinny tall body type that dominates outdoorsy and fitness images, so I didn’t ever have to worry that I would stick out. Clothes at REI fit me. People in the park looked like me.

But I don’t have a magic formula for trying things.

I don’t have some superhuman strength or skill that allows me to do the things I love. I just tried things I was scared of. I decided I didn’t want to miss out on things I’ve “always wanted to do” just because I was a little nervous. Then, I started small. I put myself out there. I occasionally shed some tears.

I’ve been terrified of snakes my entire life (I once had a panic attack at the zoo when I rounded the corner and unexpectedly was at the anaconda exhibit). I was at a work event at Cheyenne Mountain State Park and they brought out their pet bull snake for the kids to meet, and after watching about three dozen second-graders hold Chance (the snake) and have a blast, I thought it was time to put my big girl pants on.

This spring, I’m running a half marathon.

Partly, to prove to myself that I can do more than I think I’m capable of. I am equally guilty of thinking I “could never do” something like a half marathon.

But one day, five years ago, I decided to try to run around my block in Denver. I didn’t make it all the way around. I felt like I was going to puke. But I knew that it would always be that hard and unpleasant if I didn’t keep trying. And the first few steps did feel good before the nausea set in. And I wanted to be a runner, dammit.

Eventually I could run a few blocks. Then a half mile. Then a whole mile. Then up the hill at a nearby park. And a few months later I ran my first 5k.

I may have bigger goals now, and technically speaking, may be more of an Outdoor Intermediate. But I am intimately familiar with how hard things are when you start out, how scared and self-conscious you feel. How you’re not sure what information to trust because the people writing them aren’t newbies like you are.

And I also know the feeling of doing something you didn’t think you could. That satisfaction of realizing you’re doing something you couldn’t do last week, last month, or last year. That you pushed past your fear to get what you wanted. It’s a real good feeling. And I want you to have it too.

So don’t look at this blog and say, “I could never do that.” You absolutely can. You just have to decide to start.

The first time I tried rock climbing. I’d always wanted to try it even though I was scared of heights. Shortly after this photo, I realized just how scary it was going to be to come down and started panicking. Obviously, there is only one way down, and eventually I got there and then really enjoyed my second time up. Entire blog is here.
The first (and only) time I tried mountain biking. Another thing I’d always wanted to try. I ended up not liking it and fell off the bike once, hiked with it a ton, and ultimately was happy I tried it so I didn’t have to wonder anymore whether I would like it.
I knew I wasn’t a good enough swimmer to snorkel in the ocean and still enjoy it, so I swallowed my pride and donned this beautiful life jacket for our snorkeling trip in Belize. I was the only adult and looked ridiculous, but I enjoyed the entire trip and felt super safe because of it! Blog about my first time snorkeling here.

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.

3 thoughts on “You missed the point of this blog.

  1. A great post Laura! And SO SO true! I still remember the day both you & I tried our first whitewater rafting adventure…. lived through it and maybe even enjoyed it a bit. Still don’t want to tackle anything much more “whitewater” but have to admit, it was mostly fun! 🙂 Onward! HUGS!


  2. If you can run a 5k you can train to run a half marathon. I did my first one last year after not having run more than 4-5 miles at a time in years. It’s the same process as training for a 5k: just work your way up to longer mileage. I did a ten-week plan going from a base of 12 miles a week (4 runs x avg 3 miles) to 22 miles a week (3 runs of avg 4 miles and one long run of 10+ miles). I just added a mile on to the long run each week and gradually increased my “short runs” from 3 to 4 miles. You can do it!

    That said, I always thought if I ever ran a half marathon that then the marathon would seem within reach. I wouldn’t say I could never do it but after doing the half, thinking about twice that distance is still daunting. But on the plus side, a 5K seems easy now.


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