Coming Down with A Case of Spring Fever in Oregon

You know those scenes in movies, when the calendar’s pages start peeling off and flying away, first slowly, then faster and faster? That’s how I feel every spring. The weather turns gorgeous, the trails start to clear of snow, people go to the river or the coast to flee the city heat. It’s 98 degrees outside, and 108 in my apartment—and I’m stuck at my desk, on a deadline.

Why am I in my apartment, you ask? Aren’t I one of those outdoorsy guidebook writers?

Alas. The definition of adult life is doing a bunch of crap you don’t really want to do so you might, someday, be able to do what you want. So here I am, cooped up indoors, editing/writing things about places I’d rather be, and daydreaming fiercely. 

I know, I know—so is everyone else. (Never mind Instagram; it’s a house of lies.) Getting outdoors in spring is the best, our reward for enduring Portland’s long rainy winter, and we’re missing it! It’s the ultimate FOMO.

Usually I deal with the misery of being stuck at work when the trails and meadows beckon by pouting. A better solution: planning! 

Pick a trip, any trip. You might already know you won’t be able to do it this summer—that’s OK! This is just an exercise (maybe). Thumb through an atlas, pore over your trail maps, study your guidebooks. Look for something a little ambitious, like a 5-day, 55-mile loop around Three Sisters. Find a stunning landscape photo from this trip, and make it your phone’s background. Then start actively daydreaming. 

On work breaks, research the hike. Read as many trip reports as you can find. Download topo maps to your phone, just in case. Search the internet for packing lists and customize them into one big list just for you. Print it out at the office! Start window-shopping for gear online; put unreasonable amounts of stuff on your wish list. At lunch, go to the outdoor store and fondle the gear. (You know you want to.) After work, organize and clean the gear you already have. You’re going to use it at some point, right? Might as well be ready! The very ambitious or bored might want to set out all the gear in neat piles and take a photo designed to inspire envy—it’s tradition. Make a list of trail snacks and backpacking food—but remember, if you start stockpiling actual snacks at this stage, hide them somewhere safe, or you’ll end up eating all of them while sitting at your desk. Ask me how I know.

Then go look at that calendar. Do you have five blank days in a row? Anywhere? How about three? Three is good. Block them out, and label the dates with something that sounds official: “Appointment with Sisters,” maybe, or “Tests @ Dr Bronner’s Office,” “MSR Exam,” you get the idea. 

It’s a date! Don’t you feel better? Something to look forward to, even if it’s only imaginary. 

OK, now get back to work.

Becky Ohlsen
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