When I Lost My Sense of Adventure

Image from US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Growing up makes you less adventurous — less apt to take those risks you once did as a child.

As a kid, I took on any dare that came my way. I opened any haunting door, not worrying for a minute as to where it led. I fell in love with thrills, and somehow, I lost that when I blew out one too many birthday candles. Adulthood leads to caution, and caution leads to a dull life.

I was my most adventurous when I went camping or hiking with my dad.

From raccoons eating all of our food — and I mean, all of it — to running into a water moccasin or a copperhead along a trail, hiking with my dad was an exhilarating (and maybe slightly unsafe) way to bond.

Wichita Mountains was my favorite place to go camping and hiking as a kid. My dad and I would load up the truck with hot dogs, marshmallows, and bottled Dr Pepper. I’d lace up my Nike tennis shoes and bring a compass that I didn’t know how to use. And we’d set out for a day or two of nature.

Wichita was originally part of Indian reservations and rumored to contain rich gold deposits. It’s a rock climber’s haven, a nature lover’s paradise, and a history buff’s dream.

Hiking in Wichita always prompted the same old question: “Do you think we’ll find the door?” The door was the elusive Iron Door near Treasure Lake. Legend says that outlaws would hide their loot in the cave that was hidden by the Iron Door. Supposedly, that outlaw in particular was Belle Starr. The Iron Door, or the railroad door, as some believe, covered up the cave entrance where Starr held up a stagecoach. But the door is almost impossible to find.

Some say it moves from place to place so no one can find it.

Wichita has buffalo, rattlesnakes, elk, prairie dogs, and disturbingly large insects. We’ve had longhorns cross the road in the rain and mud, leaving our vehicle trapped while they glacially moved along. I’ve fed the prairie dogs — and have been bitten once or twice by their buckteeth. We’ve seen deer as big as Buicks. I’ve jumped into a lake, only to see blood running down my legs from the hidden boulders underneath. (I still have those scars.)

We’ve even eaten a longhorn burger at the local diner, Meers, which was built on the mining shaft going into a mountain.

But my favorite moment in Wichita was seeing the Narrows.

Toward the end of the day on one of our many trips, we pulled the truck into a desolate area. I remember an enormous willow tree and a hidden path — I remember lush greenery too. We went down the trail and found onions growing along the path. I thought that was the coolest thing I had seen all day. We picked several onions and threw them into a pot of soup that evening.

As we walked through years of overgrowth and underbrush, my dad and I looked up to see the most breathtaking, picturesque scene of the day: a canyon, and in the middle, a crystal-clear creek peppered with small pebbles and large boulders to sit on.

My socks and shoes were off before my dad even sat down.

As I cooled off my feet in the creek, I noticed something my own town could never offer me: tranquility. It was the quietest place we had come across yet, and its majestic, mountainous walls echoed our hushed laughs.

I spit into the water, hoping to see a fish or two hit the top. Spitting wasn’t ladylike, but I didn’t have to be a lady in the wilderness.

It was just me, Dad, and postcard-worthy scenery.

We went home that night, telling Mom all about our adventure. Dirt, grass, and filth covered my clothes, and I believe there was even a tick or two in my hair from the bushes we had crawled through.

But I didn’t care.

I don’t really know why or when we stopped going camping. Maybe it was when I switched out my Nikes and pocketknife for high heels and makeup. Maybe it was when I started growing up, finding interest in immature boys and brand-name clothing.

Or maybe it was when I lost my sense of adventure.

Unlike the Iron Door, adventure isn’t impossible to find.

But you can’t find it if you aren’t looking.

An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has edited over 300 books and launched several Amazon bestsellers for her clients. Her blog posts have been featured on popular websites including The Book Designer and Positive Writer. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.

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Note: This article originally appeared on Neil Brennen’s A Taste for the Woods.

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