, Special to The Denver Post
Now that September is already quickly slipping away from us, I’m finally willing to admit what so many fear-mongering email newsletters have been warning me for the past two months: Summer is almost over. The days are getting shorter, and skiers are starting to salivate over the powder that’s just around the corner.
But instead of fretting over the dwindling number of weekends left until shorts season becomes sweater weather, I say it’s time to become a weekday warrior instead of just living for the weekends. The national forest doesn’t care if it’s Tuesday or Friday, so why should we?
A few years ago, a friend suggested we try something radical: camping on a weeknight, then getting up and going to work in the morning like usual. We got a small group together on a Wednesday evening, put our cellphones on airplane mode, caravanned up Boulder Canyon and set up camp about 20 minutes from downtown. We were just outside the reach of cell service — far enough away from Pearl Street that it felt like we were hours away from the city.
Instead of parking ourselves on the couch in front of Netflix, we set up folding chairs under the stars. Instead of scrolling on Instagram, we told stories as we passed a bottle of whiskey.
We went to bed perhaps excessively early for five 20-somethings, rose even earlier, and went home to shower with our hair and jackets doused in essence of campfire. At work that morning, I felt giddy, like I’d done something sneaky and gotten away with it. I had traded in my usual, uneventful work night and gotten an extra day of weekend in return.
It might be fair to say that we became addicted to sneaking away to the mountains mid-week. The After Work Fun Time Adventure Friends Club recruited many new members — once, we had more than a dozen people spread out on Sugarloaf Mountain, including a family with two young kids. Most of us slept in a giant tepee-style tent, like we were at summer camp. We began to refer to our favorite site, an open expanse of grass that drops off into a hill and offers a stunning view of Indian Peaks, as “our usual spot.”
Weeknight camping became a way to find time for slowing down and resetting amid our busy lives, and it was easier than we ever expected it to be. We shared food, helped each other set up tents and hammocks and peer-pressured other friends to join our cult.
One night, for my birthday, my then-boyfriend, our resident backcountry chef, made paella over the campfire. Another time, he dug a hole and buried red-hot coals and Cornish game hens wrapped in foil. I brought ice cream packed into an insulated bottle. Another friend brought homemade mac ‘n cheese in a 5-gallon bucket. When there was a fire ban, we arranged boxes of Dominos pizzas in the fire ring.
Before, I saw camping as an activity reserved specifically for weekends. It seemed too hard and complicated to get out during the week. But especially now, as so many of us are working from home and expected to be even more available at even stranger hours, we allow our jobs to creep beyond the end of the work day. Why not also make it easier for adventure to slip into the workweek?
If the idea of missing a work email because you’re out of service gives you anxiety, don’t fret: A funny thing happens when you don’t have cell service. Suddenly, you stop caring about it. Suddenly, the physical world around you becomes so much more important. Time begins to pass more slowly, because you’re not worried about running out of it. You don’t feel like you’re behind or that you need to get ahead. You don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. You relax and reconnect with what you really need.
So before camping season comes to a close, get out there as much as you can. Even on weeknights.
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