Find Inspiration To Get Outdoors

by Kris Drake on March 13, 2019


All adventurers draw their inspiration from different sources.  Some turn to social media while others read travel blogs and view photos from around the world. Some just have the innate sense to be outside as much as possible. I am personally inspired by a variety of sources. For me, nothing beats the tales of old, when a daring adventurer sets out on the unbeaten path to explore. A particularly strong historical influence in my life is Theodore Roosevelt.

Many adventurers know Theodore Roosevelt as an avid outdoorsman and a champion for the protection of public lands. He spent his childhood travelling the world with his family and spending time outdoors. He also drew inspiration from others, particularly a fellow author and outdoorsman named John Muir. In 1903, John Muir invited President Roosevelt on a camping trip to Yosemite that would change the future of the national parks in the United States. During their excursion, John Muir described a changing United States that was beginning to view the wilderness as nothing more than a collection of natural resources to be harvested. He feared that if the country continued down this path, it would lose its natural beauty that served as a refuge to the American soul. President Roosevelt was convinced, and set in motion the creation of The Antiquities Act which would eventually lead to the creation of the National Park Service.

After reading a book on the life of Theodore Roosevelt, I was inspired to travel west, as he had, to explore a part of the country I had never been.

Before his presidency, Roosevelt invested in a cattle ranch in the Dakota badlands. The badlands get their name from the Lakota Tribe and early 1900s French fur trappers whose description of the terrain translates to “bad lands to travel through.” As soon as I read the book I knew that I must experience the badlands for myself.

I decided to visit the Badlands National Park. While the Badlands National Park is not the same land on which Roosevelt maintained his ranch, it bears similar features. My wife and I planned the trip in conjunction with a family vacation to Custer State Park, another beautiful destination in South Dakota.

We spent two days in the park with one night of backcountry camping. It was our first time backcountry camping and we could not have picked a better spot for our first experience.  Hiking away from the last remnants of civilization and into bison country, I knew I had found the rugged lands Theodore Roosevelt described a century ago. It was the exact reconnection with the outdoors I needed.

We chose a campsite surrounded by rolling prairie hills with no other humans in sight. As I fell asleep to the guttural sounds of the nearby bison, I considered Roosevelt’s experience in Yosemite. This was certainly how he felt when he made the decision to preserve a place like the Badlands as public land. He felt the instinctual connection to nature simply by existing in it.

As we continue to benefit from the comforts of modern-day society, we lose connection with nature. Luckily our past has been filled with visionaries like Theodore Roosevelt who saw the importance of maintaining the connection.

While I walked away from the trip with unforgettable memories, I also learned an invaluable lesson: inspiration to explore can come from anywhere. No matter how you get your inspiration, keep seeking it.  It may be exactly what you need to launch your next adventure.

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