Savoring Summer: Tips for Slowing Down

Making the most of summer by slowing down, bringing your buds, and finding joy.

This is a guest blog by Mind & Mountain friend & team member Vanessa Chavarriaga. Vanessa is a Colombian, mountain athlete, environmental sociologist & outdoor advocate.

When the white blanket of winter creeps away, summer comes in full force with a perfect concoction of colors, smells, and feelings. The oversaturated greens of spring create colors that you’ve never seen before. The sweet smells of pine sap, dust and sunshine create a cocktail for your nose. The hot sun on your skin warms every cell in your body. When the heat becomes overwhelming, a cold dip in a lake soothes your burning skin, mixing fire and ice and waking you up with a jolt of energy. 

Summer is a time for endless options.

The long days make it possible to have 5 days in one. But with these endless possibilities often comes the sense of overwhelm, fatigue, and pressure. Here are some tips that have helped me make the most out of long days while maintaining a sustainable schedule and bringing my community with me.

1. Enjoy every minute of it, not just the summit.

We often get sucked into ideas of reaching a summit, a waterfall, or an overlook during our hikes. While these places are awe-inspiring and beautiful, this idea of only being successful if we reach them is deeply rooted in white supremacist notions of hierarchy and dominion over natural spaces. More importantly, this mentality robs us of a lot of joy.

Our joy in nature is not a scarcity; we are capable of enjoying every minute of our time outdoors if we allow ourselves the experience. This summer, I challenge you to go for a hike with no specific objective or destination in mind. See what it feels like to walk down the trails and enjoy them simply for the act of being outside. 

2. Slow down.

Our busy schedules often lead to us overcommitting and overextending ourselves. I find this especially true in the summer, when long days and sunshine encourage constant movement. Some of my most memorable experiences outdoors are times where I allow myself to slow down. If you are struggling with slowing down, something that has helped me is reframing my goals for being outdoors. Things like foraging, birding, or identifying flowers are awesome ways to slow your pace and notice the things around you. The mountains and open spaces have so many gifts to give us, we just have to be open to receiving them. 

3. If you’re outdoors, you’re outdoorsy.

If you’re outdoorsy, you’re outdoorsy. Period.

We all belong outdoors, and our separation from nature is false. Whether you are walking your dog around your neighborhood, planting flowers in your garden, or sitting in the grass and soaking up the sunshine, you’re outdoorsy. Having a family cookout or bonfire is outdoorsy. Going for a scenic drive is outdoorsy. Sitting on a bench by the river is outdoorsy. The outdoors is quite simple even though we like to complicate ideas of who and what belongs. Short answer: if you’re outdoors, you’re outdoorsy. 

4. Expand who your outdoor partners are. 

Who do you take into the mountains?

When we look at traditional and historic mountain partners, most are white men. This is because that is the main demographic that has had access to outdoor recreation. When we look for mountain partners today we tend to look for those who have more skills than us, move quickly and efficiently through the mountains, and will help us reach our hierarchical objectives of summits. I encourage all of us to rethink who we include in our long days outside, and consider inviting a relative outdoors. Who we bring with us can either expand who belongs outside or keep things the same.

We all have the opportunity of building a more inclusive outdoors, where we are all welcome. 



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