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A shoutout to Alaskans who love the outdoors but don’t fit the ‘outdoorsy’ prototype

  • Author: Alli Harvey
    | Alaska Outdoors
  • Updated: February 13
  • Published February 13

A person walks along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail as a rainbow forms over the Knik Arm in Anchorage on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

One of my many faults is laziness. I am profoundly and intrinsically opposed to spending more energy than I absolutely must

My laziness can look like efficiency. If I have to drive into Anchorage, I’d rather make 10 stops than two to save myself another trek in the future.

It can be pure sloth. I am very good at burrowing in on my couch with crosswords or Instagram. For hours. The fire dies out, and my husband gets mad at me for not bothering to feed the wood stove.

I don’t blame him.

When it comes to being outside, I have a whole inner-world of laziness. My outdoor laziness knows no bounds; it is an endless supply and always with me.

A hike? I sigh, thinking about the hill. A run? I mentally prepare at least a day in advance and have to force myself out the door.

I noticed recently that I chose my socks based on which pair is easiest to tug on and off. I have this red pair that’s great for day-long excursions, because they go up to my knees and are snug. But a quick morning run? No, I don’t want to go through the hassle of tugging them on, pulling them up, ironing out any bunches, etc.

I don’t want to be lazy. It’s simply who I am and have always been. But, I also realize laziness is a choice as much as a trait. I’ve built my life choosing to fortify myself against my own laziness, to make sure I don’t ooze my time on earth away with Netflix.

It means that reluctant, slow and plodding outdoors people are my people, far more than the go-getters. Like me, they value comfort, certainty and excellent conditions. Also like me, they know the glorious shower, meal and horizontal recovery time sometimes proves as wonderful as the activity itself.

I write this column for you, fellow lazy outdoors person. As the kids say, I see you.

I’ve realized that one of the many ways my laziness manifests is in refusing to retain details. My brain, you see, is full and can’t be bothered to retain more information than it absolutely must.

This means I find technical writing about the outdoors to be irksome and dull. It also means I have difficulty grasping new skills and terms needed for certain activities — biking is a great example. I pride myself on having learned how to do this thing called “grease a chain.” I also am pretty good at pumping up my tires, although sometimes I find it difficult and cumbersome to locate the PSI recommendation.

But learning how a bike works?! No, thank you. We have experts for that. They work at my local bike shop. They are very nice, and they don’t charge too much. For me, the exchange of money for their skills far outweighs the enormous effort it would take me to learn what they know.

I am not terribly interested in stats, particularly other people’s stats. While my husband obsesses over Strava, tracking his mileage and speed compared to others’ in his range using a system that is mysteriously connected to his watch, I use my busted old iPhone to listen to music on my runs. I estimate my pace. Honestly, I have no idea what my average is these days. It feels fine.

A skier travels the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage on February 7, 2021. (Marc Lester / ADN)

I think there is this perception of “outdoorsy” people as being a certain way. I felt that when I first started to get outside more. I didn’t consider myself “outdoorsy” for the longest time, because I didn’t look like one of them. I also didn’t connect to “outdoorsy” things, like fitness and gear. I just wanted to go outside and look at mountains.

My laziness has always been there, but as I’ve built more experience in the outdoors and more experience with myself as a human in her mid-30s, I’ve seen my laziness more clearly.

It’s at the heart and center of my elaborately staged plans. The plans themselves only exist because I can’t be trusted to make impromptu decisions that contribute to my overall well-being. If left to my own devices, I stay on the couch. If I tell myself and five other people and all of the gracious readers of the ADN that I am going to do a thing — train for race, hike a mountain or (god forbid) try something new — I am much more likely to do it.

That last one — trying something new — takes a whole lot of effort, you know. Sometimes I even have to memorize new terms. That means my brain has to jostle aside other information that already lives up there to make room. It takes energy, which is exactly what I’m loath to spend.

All this to say: shout out to all of the Alaskans who consider themselves appreciative of the outdoors in whatever way, but don’t consider themselves outdoorsy.

Shout out to everyone who struggles on the trail or glares at the peppy person who says they could keep going for hours.

And three cheers for snacks.

Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and plays in Southcentral Alaska.