For many of us, our first experience with cannabis took place outside. For me, it took place on a hiking trail just behind my dorms at the University of Missouri. With cannabis being illegal (or frowned upon at least) in most states at the time, lighting up indoors wasn’t usually an option due to the telltale signs of smoke and smells. Now, with legal cannabis in more than half of the United States and a growing number of other countries, people have the option of consuming indoors more easily, but I’d encourage you still step outside when the weather permits for the occasional safety meeting. Not only is it enjoyable, it’s also beneficial to your health to spend time outside. And if you can do that while enjoying cannabis, even better.
One of my favorite things to do back in the dorms was grab my camera and a bowl or one hitter, and walk along the MKT Trail, taking pictures of leaves, rivers, and natural landscapes. Cannabis seemed to do to life what HDR photography did to images (for this unfamiliar, HDR photography shows the full range of vibrance, exposure, and color). But, the real reason I went outside to smoke was that it was illegal. I didn’t have the luxury of lighting up indoors where my residence prohibited it. In the woods, on a trail, or while sitting on a cliff, overlooking the town, I was able to enjoy one of nature’s gifts surrounded by nature, providing both discretion and enhanced enjoyment.
Now, I choose to consume outside when possible because of the enjoyment it brings to me. It’s a choice. And a choice I recommend you take, regardless of whether you have the ability to light up indoors.
I had the opportunity to revisit many of these old smoke spots when I guest lectured at the University of Missouri’s journalism school. I made sure to take some time to walk the old trail behind the dorm as well as visit one of our old smoke spots, “The Cliffs” or “Capen” as it was known to those who frequented it. Missouri has legalized medical cannabis, which has helped relax the enforcement, but Columbia has had decriminalized cannabis for more than two decades.
As I sat on the cliffs, looking out over the autumn canopy of trees below, enjoying dabs and blunts, I was able to enjoy the moment in a different light than I had as a student, hiding from law enforcement and campus security. I used to use the outdoors as a place to escape and get high. Now, I simply got to enjoy my high, reliving countless memories from youthful adventures., appreciating the beauty of what cannabis introduced me to by regularly encouraging outdoor activities like hiking.
If you’re like me and you already enjoy the outdoors, I recommend bringing some cannabis along on your next journey into the great outdoors. If you’re hesitant about consuming cannabis outdoors, consider this:
Being outdoors improves quality of life and lowers your risk of death. Countless studies have shown that time outside and time spent around nature is beneficial to our health on a variety of levels, including increased exposure to Vitamin D from sunlight, a vitamin we all need.
Lighting up outside means you avoid smells and other signs of use that might perturb neighbors, roommates, or landlords. Aside from the technically illegal aspect of public consumption (depending on your locale), you’ll escape the stresses associated with getting “caught” by those with differences of opinion.
Outdoor activities like hiking, or any activity you enjoy, will also stimulate the production of endorphins. As your body works towards that summit, or simply strolls to a comfortable smoke spot, you’ll be earning that high naturally, and, once you get to your spot, the cannabinoids you consume will only enhance these feelings of satisfaction and contentment. Earn that high/endorphins add to your natural sense of feeling good
Nature is beautiful, especially under the influence of cannabis. We often overlook this beauty in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, driving to and from work, meeting in conference rooms, waiting in line at the coffee shop. By taking a walk, hike, or enjoying one of countless outdoor activities, you can stop and take a moment to breathe in the fresh air, take in the sights, and feel the breeze and sunlight as it recharges your body.
Convinced yet? Excellent. Before you get started, a few words of caution:
Know where you’re going. Have an idea of the trail, a map, or some resource to help you through your journey. Once you light up, you may have some issues with short term memory, and having a guide for your travel will ensure no one gets lost.
Know how much cannabis you have had and know your limits. All too often, hikers have issues with an edible that hits them mid hike that was a bit stronger than intended. Be conscious of how much cannabis you are consuming out your adventure and make sure you are within your comfort zone to avoid issues.
Bring a buddy (or at least let someone know where you are). The buddy system has existed for decades for a reason, it works. Having someone there to help you if you have an issue, whether it is reading the map or attending to an injury, can make the difference between a fun trip and a disastrous situation. It’ll also help ensure that search and rescue parties can easily find you should there be an issue. If you get too high and get lost, having someone else who knows where you are and the approximate duration of your adventure will ensure a timely rescue if needed.
While cannabis makes nature better, and nature can make our lives better, a bit of preparation and planning will only make your journey that much more enjoyable. Start with a trail or area you’re familiar with, and a low-intensity walk or hike. If you like what you experience, feel free to up the ante and bring your biggest blunt to the top of the highest mountain. Just make sure you enjoy within the comfort of your own limits to keep the high enjoyable for all involved.