Our whole trip through Indonesia. From Surabaya to Ijen Crater Lake to Mount Bromo and finally back to Surabaya to fly off. Image captured on Google Maps.
After traveling to Singapore only to fly off to Malaysia for four days, I was ready to see something other than skyscrapers and crowded streets. Malaysia was a whirlwind of shopping centers with brands that my sensible American eyes had never seen. Stores like Mont Blanc, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Tag Heuer were a few of those aforementioned brands. It’s true, we were staying in a rather swank part of Kuala Lumpur—the nation’s capital—and apart from feeling poor, it was as if I had never left the west. Where was the culture? I wondered.
A view from the hotel we stayed at during our stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Petronas twin towers can be seen in the image. Photo credit: Sabrina Abdul Ghani
I needed to see the mountains. I wanted to experience the rich culture I had envisioned so many months before, and my wish was about to come true. Luckily, we were flying off to Surabaya, Indonesia from KL, which was a short and turbulence-free flight. (Quick side note here, I had never flown before leaving the states a week prior, and now I was on my third flight—I would end up flying five more times in a span of two weeks.) Arriving in Surabaya, the humidity was palpable, and before I could collect my luggage, my cotton shirt had already bonded to my skin. While my girlfriend and her family searched for our tour guides, I quickly scanned the area for any sign of cigarette vendors. After all, Indonesia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, so it was not too hard to look for a pack of squares. Thanks to prior research— i.e., asking my girlfriend, a native speaker—I blurted out the word rokok, which is the Bahasa word for cigarette.
However, there would be no time to smoke once we found our tour guides. With bags loaded onto the van, we raced to the east end of Java to our first adventure. The road was pleasant, at least in the beginning, but before long, the heavily-trafficked streets of the city gave way to the narrow one-way country roads of rural Indonesia. We drove hard into the night, my stomach grumbling, aching for a bite of food—my beef jerky rations had vanished in between airports. We arrived in a small town somewhere up in the mountains at around 9 p.m., and Bayu, our tour guide, recommended a sit-down restaurant favored by locals.
The humid air from Surabaya was now gone, and instead, there was a brisk wind coming from the mountains. In the midst of our hunger we forgot to eat; instead, we feasted on dishes I will, unfortunately, most likely never have again. There was ox-tail soup, and a local fish grilled to perfection and dressed in a type of sweet barbecue sauce, and all manner of other things, whose names escape me. Our table, once big, now seemed small with the number of dishes strewn about
The Indonesian contryside before heading up the mountains. Photo credit: Sabrina Abdul Ghani
It rained then, a soft, cool rain and we were back on the road again. After three more hours on impossibly-dark mountain roads, we reached our Air BnB. Our bungalow had two floors and a stunning bathroom that was both, indoors and outdoors. Showering in that bathroom felt like being in nature itself, bathing under a waterfall. It was a tragedy that we got there late and left so early. Our hosts, an Indonesian woman and an Australia man, offered us coffee and a pastry as we left. I thanked them through mouthfuls of both and, once again, were on our way to Ijen Crater Lake.
A koi pond at the Air BnB we stayed at. Photo credit: Sabrina Abdul Ghani.
Bayu had mentioned the night before that if we left earlier we could see the burning blue lights of the sulfur mines. But, we needed to sleep and three hours would not do any of us any good—it was hard to refuse, but our jetlag still plagued us. Declining that offer was my one regret of the trip.
In the morning we arrived at the foot of Ijen Crater Lake, and I had no idea what was going on. I thought it would be one of those monuments like the Grand Canyon where you simply drive up and take in the view. I was as wrong as I was unprepared.
This was when I first learned that we would hike up the whole way. As I took my first few steps into what would become a long day of firsts, I saw some people coming down the path. One of them, perhaps a German tourist, said to me, and me specifically, “good luck.” Though, what bothered me the most what was he didn’t say of the perils ahead. What he didn’t tell me, and neither did anyone else, was that the round-trip hiking distance was over 8 miles with 3,200 feet of elevation gain. On my feet, I had a pair of Adidas trainers I had just bought—they were still stiff—and I was missing every other key piece of gear.
One minute into the hike I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. Apart from being unprepared and severely lacking in gear, I was, and am still, out of shape. My constant desire to sit down for a smoke break probably exacerbated my condition. Briefly, I wondered if I should pay one of the men that were hauling people up the mountain on makeshift carts—I decided against it. Such a load would have been too much for them, and, for my dignity. Eventually, I decided I would hike up the damn thing but at my own pace, with plenty of breaks in between.
The author looking absolutely miserable at a rest stop along the trail. In hindsight, he admits that smoking was not the best way to recover. Image credit: Sabrina Abdul Ghani
After sweating through my shirt multiple times, and probably annoying the shit out of Bayu, we approached an encampment. My girlfriend and her family were calmly sipping tea as I sat down to catch my breath for three lifetimes. I learned that we were only halfway up the mountain and, against all my wishes, it would get steeper with some fun scrambling sections. Before ascending, I drank enough water to sweat out later, and I also had a coffee for performance—I would need it. Bayu, in all his graciousness, offered me one of his smokes—called a kretek cigarette, and popular in Indonesia—but the sweet clove was too much at the time. Eventually, they would become my favorites on the trip, and I would come to miss them once back in the states.
As we hiked further up, I could see, from our vantage point, the forest through light clouds, and the odd peak or two protruding along the vista. Sure enough, I thought to myself; nothing could top this view. As breathtaking as the view was, it did not detract from the arduous climbing ahead. We scrambled a few times, made way for other tourists, and occasionally stopped so that I could catch my breath—Bayu was a veteran of a hundred hikes by that point.
This was about three-fourths of the way. Photo credit: Sabrina Abdul Ghani
The peak was extremely foggy with sulfur at first. Photo credit: Alejandro Medellin.
The men in this image travel up and down the mountain to sell their loads of sulfur. Photo credit: Sabrina Abdul Ghani
Just take a look. As gorgeous as this image may be, it looked better in person. Photo credit: Alejandro Medellin.
With aching legs full of lactic acid, I finally reached the top, and the air was thick with fog and an undeniable smell of sulfur. The men who carry sulfur down from the mines were there, and they inspected their loads, which they carried on baskets over their shoulders. As I got closer to the rim of the crater, I looked below and saw the lake of acid. I had not known what the lake would look like, and what I pictured in my imagination was inadequate when compared to the real thing. With blue waters that transformed into turquoise as the Indonesian sun hit the surface, it was indeed something to remember. There were also plumes of smoke wafting upwards from the surface that added to the mystery of the pulchritudinous lake. For a while, I sat transfixed and gazed upon a natural wonder unlike anything else in the world. When it was emblazoned into my memory, I snapped a few photographs, and we bought a small piece of solid sulfur, which sits on my bookshelf still.
With no equipment, hiking shoes, trekking pole, or special hiking socks, I had made my way to the top. My body, of course, would feel it in the coming days but in that moment, I felt triumphant. Yet, with languid limbs, I finally put one foot in front of the other and left that place in hopes of coming back.
If I would have understood what the trip entailed I probably would not have gone, but I am glad to have done it. I had never really hiked before, and I had no longing to hike up a mountain, but thousands of miles away from home, I could feel myself pivot towards the outdoors.
A few days later we hiked through an undisclosed jungle on flip-flops to take in the view of a gorgeous secluded waterfall. We would see another waterfall after that, and camp out in the early hours to see the sun rise behind a volcano—we then proceeded to climb said volcano and look into the caldera and hear the deep guttural sound of the earth.
When I visit again, and I hope that is soon, my adventures will not be accidental.
Our ride on our way to Mount Bromo. We still had to hike a considerable amount and climb up the volcano afterwards. Photo credit: Alejandro Medellin
Don't remember too well where this waterfall was, but we hiked for about 30 minutes before getting there. In sandals. Photo credit: Alejandro Medellin.
Our tour guide, Bayu, and the author. A good dude for sure. Photo credit: Sabrina Abdul Ghani
Earlier this year, when the summer heat from Texas had us all hiding in our air-conditioned refuges, I made the trip with my wife up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to visit my parents. The temperatures were blissfully cool, so we decided to do some hiking.
Jackson Hole is a short drive from Grand Teton National Park, and like a lot of national parks, it’s filled with hikes for hikers of all skill levels. I’ve never been much for rock climbing, but I love a good hike. My wife was more in the “enjoy your vacation by relaxing at the house” mode one day, so my father and I decided to go on a short hike somewhere close to the house.
We chose Blacktail Butte.
Though we’d driven past the Butte dozens of times over the years (my parents have lived in Jackson for a while now), we’d never done much but look at it. I was excited for something new, but I quickly realized we had bitten off a bit more than we could chew.
Well, not quite…
Blacktail Butte is where local rock climbers go to practice their craft. We actually saw a few on the way up to the top. We puzzled for a bit over the signage and decided to take what appeared to be a direct route up the Butte.
It was direct alright.
Turns out we chose the wrong trail — there was a 7-mile hike that would have eventually taken us to the top — but we didn’t realize that until we made it back down.
The hike became difficult almost immediately.
Now this wouldn’t have been a problem, except for two things:
We did it anyway.
Now don’t get me wrong — this wasn’t a terrible hike.
But there were more than a few times where some slipping and sliding took place — exclusively on my end, because my father had the wisdom to dress more appropriately and I wasn’t in a listening mood that morning — and there were more than a few times where I had a real fear about my father falling because I was slipping so much.
The angle of the “trail” was steep, and it was clear that this was more of a game trail than a trail for humans. We often had to pull ourselves along by grasping at trees or bushes for leverage. The hike down was worse, the angle so steep that I basically went down on my butt half the way.
My father was OK — he had the foresight to bring a hiking stick and hiking boots, and they served him well.
We made it to the top, and something strange happened.
I realized that we’d probably never make that hike again.
I felt, in that moment, the importance of experiencing everything that was happening, because something in me knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
When we made it to the top of that Butte, the thrill of success was a bit overwhelming for just a moment — there had been a few moments when we considered turning back but were able to locate a possible way up and forge ahead.
I don’t know that I’ve had a hike like that ever, to be honest. I usually choose the well-trodden paths that I know will be safe yet still provide the exercise and views I love. I don’t like taking big risks much with my body these days — it’s too precious to me now to really put at risk in a serious way.
At the top, my father was winded, and I wasn’t. That’s to be expected — he’s a little over twice my age. Neither of us expected the hike to be as arduous as it was. I don’t get a chance to get up to Wyoming very often — it might be years before I visit again.
These factors combined, in the thrill of victory over nature, to force a hard truth into my head — we wouldn’t be going back up there. Ever.
This is because of a variety of factors. One is that we simply wouldn’t choose to do that hike again knowing what we know about it now. Two is that both my father and I are getting older, getting to a point where it just doesn’t make sense to purposefully choose difficult hikes like that when an easier hike will do.
That hike wasn’t happening again.
And I knew it.
So I took in as much of that moment as I could, because something important and meaningful was happening up there.
My father and I, on our own, were confronted with an unexpected obstacle, and we surmounted it.
We didn't stop. We didn’t turn back. We knew that it wasn’t the best choice in the world, but we did it anyway, for the thrill of the thing.
And most importantly, it turned out OK. Nobody got hurt, we both got excellent exercise, we learned our lesson about that butte, we learned something about ourselves and each other, and we decided, probably separately and almost unconsciously, not to do that again.
Mortality is something you always sort of know in the back of your head — it’s a bizarre feeling when it gets close, when it shows itself.
I’m in recovery, which means that I have a lot of friends who are like me, a lot of friends who disappear randomly, a lot of friends who die. Not a week ago, an acquaintance took her own life rather than live with the disease of addiction.
I am painfully familiar with mortality.
But seeing it in myself, seeing it in a loved one, well, that’s a very different feeling.
It’s one thing to know that people die. It’s another to see that you are, in fact, a person, and so are the ones you love, to see that you might die too.
On that hike, we never, ever got even close to dying, but the specter of mortality arose. My father and I, on that hike, felt and understood, silently and without urging from each other, the importance of being very careful, of taking our time up the butte, of watching out for each other, because we were out in nature, and nature makes cold, hard calculations-of-life that have very little compassion for the fact that human beings are smart or emotionally complex or members of a family or somebody’s friend.
Nature does not care — in many ways, it’s similar to my disease. It does what it does regardless of what I think about it or how it will affect me or those I love.
They are both as immovable as mountains — it’s up to me to navigate around them, to stay safe, to do the things that I need to do to stay alive.
It was a wonderful feeling, making it up that mountain, but I won’t do it again. Mortality showed itself, that day, and we eyed it warily, paid it respect, and carefully walked around it. I am grateful every day that I can have experiences like this, even when those who suffer from the same disease I do are denied them.
I cannot save them, but I can do my best to be an intelligent, thoughtful, careful steward of the life I have, the life I almost lost many years ago, the life that’s been returned to me.
But that does not mean I have to back down from an unexpected challenge. I grew from that hike up that butte, and I’m sure my father did too. Part of being a steward is understanding when it’s necessary to take a risk in return for a greater reward, to approach the line, put a toe or two across, and then slip back unharmed with treasure in hand.
Life requires risk. Life is a risk. I should be wary and careful, but neither should I hide in my house to stay safe.
That’s not life.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that my hike up the butte taught me to live life consciously, to take calculated risks, to respect nature and the world, to allow experiences to be what they are, and to savor them, because life is precious and short and horribly cheap, and you rarely know when an experience will be your last.
Living life consciously is my upventur — what’s yours?
One of the most frustrating aspects of living in a metropolis is not so much a disconnect from nature, for surely plenty of nature has been artificially infused into Dallas-Fort Worth and most other major metropolitan areas, but rather a disconnect from the reality that this planet we live in is a dangerous, beautiful, wild place, that the fortresses of metal and glass we live blind us, keep us from seeing the world for how it really is, and by extension, keep us from seeing ourselves, and our places in the world, for what they really are.
It’s easy, in an air-conditioned house, in a comfortable chair with a blanket over my lap and a tame cat in the corner, to forget that not so many thousands of years ago, the land, and the life within it, was an ever-present danger and source of life and prosperity that lived in the minds of ordinary and not-so-ordinary people at all times, breeding healthy fear, gratitude, and respect.
This is a feeling that I often seem to have lost.
The only way to find it again is to go back out into nature, to experience it for what it is, beauty and danger and something more combined into one.
In my latest adventure to Hawaii, I was reminded of how inherently untamed the world is, how it’s something that should be respected and cherished (rather than viewed as a simple curiosity to be visited and then forgotten).
In April of this year, my wife and I visited the Big Island of Hawaii, and because time was limited, we immediately set out to visit the big attractions.
We were most excited to see Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Now while I’d visited a volcano once before, that was a (thankfully) non-exploding volcano, which made the experience interesting, but not decidedly more or less so than seeing similar gouts of steam from holes in the ground in Yellowstone.
This was different.
This volcano had lava coming out of it.
Or, to be more accurate, it had lava that was bubbling and bursting out of it.
I would share the video I took, but the quality is terrible, so instead, I’ll share the video that someone took a week or two after we visited when the volcano went from some tiny bubbles and bursts to full-on eruption.
Note that this video is over 11 hours long. The eruption has been so large and so sustained that it is literally reshaping the island itself and adding new land.
For someone who has spent the majority of the life in a suburb or city, seeing something like that, the land itself bursting open, the violence of it, the unstoppability of it, the realness of it, was a visceral reminder of what I’d been seeing all over the island — that the planet is alive, that it does what it wants, that underlying its beauty is often terrible danger, and that this is not something I can forget if I want to be a full human being, one that understands they live not in a house, not in a community, but in a living, breathing, violent world that very much demands respect.
I’m used to seeing the world as a truncated, stripped down version of what it actually is. I never actually “see” the world in any case, but rather think about it in very small pieces. I think of small squares of land, usually centered around some population center, and I forget that it’s all one gigantic, thriving mass that’s been here for billions of years and will be here long after I’m gone.
And maybe long after we’re all gone.
It’s strange to think about that, to remember that, after enough millions of years have passed, the Earth will be completely unrecognizable (and so will we), yet it will still be essentially itself — it will still have storms, have oceans and rivers and rain, have volcanoes and mountains and deserts and life, will still be a violent, dangerous place that both sustains and kills the new, strange creatures that inhabit it, creatures that are just as wild and hungry as we once were, not so long ago.
It’s easy to forget how fragile our lives really are, how enormous and complex the world really is. It’s easy to shove the “outdoors” into a box and think of it as a vacation destination, a mostly harmless place to visit, to view, and then to leave to its own devices as we return to our supposedly safe house that, ironically, are built right on top of that same land. We act as though it’s somehow different, tamed, but the truth is, just like my cat, there’s a streak of wildness still in it that can come out at any moment.
Before the latest eruption, I would hazard to guess that many of the people living there did not really think lava insurance was something they needed to worry too much about.
The land showed them otherwise.
Everywhere I went in Hawaii, I was reminded of the dangers of that land. There were resorts that sat in the middle of wasteland deserts, places that would kill you in a day or two if you ventured out unprepared. The place where we viewed the lava lake was closed only a few days after because the gases coming out of the ground (followed closely by molten lava) were enough to kill you just by breathing the air. We went to the ocean, and we were given plenty of warnings about the dangers of riptides and crumbling rocks and hungry sealife.
But for all that, it was also a beautiful place, filled with wildlife that wasn’t nearly as frightened of us as I thought it should be, like this turtle near the place we stayed. It didn’t care that we walked right up to it—it just watched us, equally curious.
It’s easy to think of the world as a flat stereotype, as all danger, as all beauty, as something a little unreal, to think of the houses we stay in, the places we take our families, and the offices we work out of as the true reality.
Going out into the world and seeing it for what it really is — a complex amalgamation of beauty and danger, an ancient, ever-evolving place that will be completely different long after I’m gone, that was here long before I was born, to remember that my place in it is precarious and transient, to remember who and what I really am — just another creature lucky enough to live in this incredible place — that’s my upventur.
To see reality for what it is, so that I don’t forget how lucky I am to live in a safe, protected place in a society that supports my wellbeing and allows me to have a meaningful life — that’s my upventur.
And to go back out there, from time to time, and to feel the truth of it all:
That’s my upventur.
There’s a good reason Big Bend National Park is consistently listed as one of the least-visited national parks in the country. Situated along the U.S./Mexico border in West Texas, it’s about as remote as you can get.
For me, that’s the big draw.
Like many national parks, Big Bend has a variety of no-service areas, allowing you to spend time in nature unencumbered by devices, but for me, Big Bend has a benefit that goes far beyond a lack of distraction: because the park has so few visitors (especially compared to the places that draw huge crowds, like Yellowstone), it’s possible to enjoy those wide-open spaces completely alone.
And that has more value than I think our hyper-connected world likes to admit.
One of the main reasons I love hiking so much is that it gives me a valid excuse to disconnect. Even when I don’t have to be “on” for work, I still have to remain connected for all the other people in my life. We already know that constant connection is damaging to mind and body, but disconnecting is only a piece of the puzzle.
In other national parks, you can disconnect all you want and never get a moment alone.
I experienced this the last time I went to Grand Teton National Park. Everywhere I went, there were people. Even on the most remote trails that a casual hiker like myself could conceivably visit, there were people.
I want to stress that these people weren’t jerks, weren’t doing anything rude or wrong, weren’t even being particularly loud — in fact, some were as quiet as I was — but the reality is that even their presence was a distraction.
There’s something to be said for empty places and absolute silence.
Just as we know constant connection is damaging to the psyche, so too do we know that being alone can be healing. There is value in emptiness, value in silence, value in getting away from it all in a literal way, value in going to a place where you can enjoy vistas and views for long stretches of time without seeing a single soul.
My recent trip to Big Bend gave me exactly that.
There’s something about desert landscapes, more so than mountains or prairies or oceans or forests, that seems to lend itself to healing. The desert landscape carries with it overtones and associations that reach back deep into human history. It’s a landscape that comes up over and over in stories of transcendence, transformation, and healing.
It’s little wonder that I found the same thing myself when I visited the massive desert that is Big Bend.
Though Big Bend is a deeply varied landscape, boasting high mountains, massive rivers, and beautiful forests, it’s a primarily desert landscape. When last I went there, I took the time to go on a hike or two by myself, and I was able to climb one very popular trail without a single person on it — the Lost Mine Trail.
Now I’m not in the best shape in the world, and I’m certainly not the type to take on a trail that’s beyond what I can handle — this was enough to leave me winded by the time I reached the top, but not so much that I was dead on arrival
During all this time, I was alone, except for maybe one or two people who were on their way down. This was in the afternoon, so it wasn’t like I had to go out very early or late to get the place to myself.
That hike was magical in many ways. It was probably the first time in months that I could say I was truly by myself for hours at a time. It was the first time, in a long time, that I could be alone with my thoughts (without some imminent need or distraction tugging at my awareness).
I was alone, I had nowhere to be, I had no one to answer to, I had nothing better to do, I had nothing that needed to be done when I got back, and I had a only-slightly-worried wife waiting back at the cabin (who was only too happy to get some time to herself).
I did not expect it to be as wonderful as it was.
I’m in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. I’ve been sober for 7 years. I’m very familiar with the dangers of real isolation, and for a long time in sobriety, surrounding myself with healthy people was a key to survival.
But when I took that trip, the emergency was over. I no longer had to watch my back every moment and constantly be with other people who were doing the right thing. Still, those early instincts — of never allowing yourself to be alone — had stuck with me over the years.
I didn’t know I needed time alone. I didn’t know how much I was really missing until I climbed a little mountain by myself in the midst of a massive desert.
That time up there wasn’t just peaceful — it was healing. The exercise was rigorous enough to quiet my always-on mind. The end was completely void of humanity, which meant I didn’t have to stand around and chat with some stranger, but rather was forced to endure the rare silence in my head and just breathe and look at the world.
I think I rediscovered meditation that day, or rather the essence of it. I’ve done countless guided meditations in my pursuit of better sobriety, but this was different, this was something deeper, something more profound.
I wasn’t trying to escape my mind, as I often had when trying to meditate. Instead, the process of hiking, completely without distraction, and of coming to a place where I didn’t have a slight anxiety about possible interaction with the people around me, naturally took me out of my thoughts and into the experience I was having.
The truth of the matter is that people distract me, even when not intending to, even when absolutely silent, even when in a completely different room. I do not naturally relax until I’m totally alone, and I didn’t even know that I was like that until I made that hike.
I found out, there, on top of that little mountain, that I was missing something. In a hyper-connected world where I never strayed far from those people who were, and are, my lifelines, it turns out that sometimes I need a little time alone to heal from the weight of the past, to heal from the grind of the present, to heal from the pressure of the world.
I used to spend days locked in a room in my apartment, isolating and using and escaping. Today, my Upventur is getting outside, getting out into nature, getting to walk and breathe and live without fear.
I used to be shackled to those substances, and even going outside was an impossible nightmare. Today, just going on those adventures I never thought I could have is a visible manifestation of my freedom, an experience I can feel that proves I am free.
Today, my Upventur is spending time with myself in a healthy way. In the dark past, I spent more time with myself than any person ever should, but after that trip, I realized how crucial it was to let go of the fear of being alone — a fear that only came from a toxic yesterday — and to embrace the reality that I can be by myself today and feel OK.
More than OK: I can be by myself and heal. I can be by myself and thrive. I can be by myself and have an adventure that helps me discover who that person is I lost so long ago.
Hiking by myself is my Upventur. What’s yours?
Brendan Leonard a filmmaker and writer whose works have been published on sites like Outside, Backpacker and Climbing, filmed a documentary starring himself for REI.
The documentary follows Leonard and his childhood friend Jayson Sime as they train for an ultramarathon of 100 miles. The ultramarathon, known as the Run Rabbit Run 100 is hosted in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and apart from being a 102.9-mile run, it also has 20,000 feet of elevation gain. Both Leonard and his partner were not, up to that point, serious runners at all, but they decided that if they were going to make it they had to train. It was six months of running 20-plus miles every Saturday and lots of eating to keep them going.
The documentary focuses on Leanoard's friend Sime for the most part as they tell his story of hardship and perseverance, but even through the screen, his optimistic and positive personality is contagious.
More than half of the 30-minute documentary follows them through their run and its many ups and downs. Without spoiling things, things get emotional, but it 's one of the most inspirational things I have seen in a long time. Although I can't say if they make it or not, I'll leave that up to you, the journey is worth watching.
All around the world people enjoy the outdoors in many ways, from fishing in the oceans to hiking in the many mountains and forests. Because the outdoors belongs to everyone, cultures have created words in their languages to describe the beauty of nature. It's a shame that these words are exclusive to certain languages, which is why we decided to share some of our favorites. From Norwegian to Japanese, these are some of the words that capture the true essence of the outdoors. Now you just have to think of a way to sneak these into casual conversation.
A Norwegian word, Peiskos describes a feeling that we have all felt at least once, but may not have had a singular term to describe it. Think of the sound of a crackling fire, and the visions of light dancing off the trees. That’s peiskos.
A new and trendy phrase in the yoga world, Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing, is a beneficial practice that allows for relaxation and restoration. Everyone deserves a break from the hustle and bustle, try shinrin-yoku.
This word describes the lovely mornings where you are awoken by the sunrise, sounds of mother nature, and a crisp breeze through your window. Mornings like this always provide for a better and more productive day. Remember to set your alarm tonight.
We aren’t quite sure if this is relaxing or terrifying, but it can be taken either way. The feeling of being completely surrounded by nature and nothing else, no background noise or clutter, can be incredible.
Uitwaaien is a dutch word that describes the act of taking a much-needed break from the corporate world. Walking through the crisp air and bright sky on a windy day can clear anyone’s head.
One of the most beautiful sights to gaze at, Gumusservi paints a picture of light balancing on the edge of the ocean during a pitch black night. The only glow comes from the moon and lights up faces looking back upon it, and the ripples on the water dance in unison.
The sensation everyone knows but doesn’t have a word for. Well there is a word for it. Petrichor describes the earthy aroma that comes during a rainstorm. The word has Greek origins, Petra means stone, and īchōr describes the ethereal fluid that is the blood of the gods and immortals.
Escaping from ritual is a practice that many do not have the luxury of. The mundane aches your bones, and allowing freedom in your routine can pump up any person that’s stuck in a business suit. Whether it’s taking a swim in a small lake, or hiking up a mountain that has been calling your name, every once in a while you need a break.
As the Fall season begins to take shape and September inevitably turns into October, it can only mean one thing in Denton: Oktoberfest. This year’s Oktoberfest, like years prior, occurred at Fry Street in the early hours of Saturday, Sept. 30. Runners all of ages were present to take part in the 5k event, which began at 10 AM. Part of West Hickory Street was closed to allow for beer and food vendors to set-up, and there was even a stage for live music.
The Upventur team was present at the event early to inspire the incoming runners and hand out cold-water bottles to thirsty participants. There was around 250 people ready to run in the name of Denton County friends of the family, and even a few dogs as well. Before the run, there were several people training, but by and large, the majority of participants were running for fun. Once the 5k began, through sections of UNT’s campus, it was not long before participants were done, and they sought the cold refreshing taste of an Oktoberfest Beer.
"I'm doing this just for fun because 100 percent of the proceeds go to charity, and so, that's why I do it. Because all these bars do it for the community,” said 5k runner Rachel Svadlenka. “I used to support the beer drinking, but now I want to support the other aspects. I used to drink a beer [after the race] but I quit recently, like in the last couple of months, so I’ll just give my beer to somebody else."
The bars on Fry Street were decked out in German-inspired Oktoberfest decorations, and many of the bartenders wore traditional outfits like the lederhosen, for men or the dirndl, for women. In addition, famous breweries like Shiner and Franconia were present to delight patrons with their seasonal Oktoberfest brews. Councilwoman Sara Bagheri tapped the Franconia keg for all to see, although it did take a few taps of the hammer to get the beer flowing. The event’s highlight was the costume contest where a woman and her dog, dressed with an adorable lederhosen, took home the prize. There was much to celebrate, especially because of the proceeds going to charity, and one local company was out there looking for people to donate a bit of plasma for a good cause.
"We are a brick and mortar store off of Loop 288, and we do plasma collections; we turn it into pharmaceutical drugs mostly towards people with autoimmune deficiencies,” said Biolife employee Warren Shirley. “When you donate plasma it's so easy on your body you can donate twice a week. You only need a 24-hour break in between the two. All plasma is, is water and a splash of protein and that protein is what we really value, but 90 percent of it is water. That's why, so long as you're drinking water and staying healthy, it's easy-peasy."
This little event is growing every year, according to previous eventgoers, with many people wearing last year’s Oktoberfest shirt. The run had 250 participants, and many of them stuck around to hang out and do some day-drinking to relax the muscles. In a small town like Denton, it is events like these that merge local culture with the outdoors. We proudly sponsored a portion of the event to help out the victims of domestic abuse through the non-profit Denton County Friends of the Family. We had a lot of fun and made lots of great connections with other Dentonites. Look out for the Upventur diamond at upcoming events, and don’t forget to say hi.