When Strangers Become Friends: An Ode to the Online Adventure Community

Hiking the Enchantments with Lee, a good friend who I met through the #HikerChat forum
Hiking the Enchantments with Lee, a good friend who I met through the #HikerChat forum

When I was younger, my parents told me one simple rule: “Never talk to strangers.” I think over time this adage became true in some respects, but not much in others. As an outdoor blogger and writer, it’s important to be able to connect with others in my field, and ever since I’ve started Mike Off the Map, I’ve joined a community where I’ve met some of the most inspiring people that I’ve ever come across.

It seems like such a simple idea to pay homage to, a group of people who share the same interests get together every week and talk about hiking, climbing, and just passion for the mountains. However it’s become so much more than that. We’re friends, hiking and climbing partners, we inspire each other so much that we’ll move cross country if only to be closer and although many of us have never met in person, we share inside jokes, silliness through tweeting, but at the same time sharing information or planning meetups at a trail. Last week we celebrated the two year anniversary of our Twitter chat #ATQA (Adventure Travel Question and Answer) where every Wednesday we get together in an open forum to discuss outdoor topics that while trying to remain serious just dissolves into fun and roaring laughter. The point is this group has stuck together through triumphant summits, disappointments, moves, relationships, success and tragedy. A tight knit group of adventurers unlike anywhere else.

When I moved to Seattle, one of the hardest parts of settling in was never knowing anyone and feeling at the opposite end of the country with only a couple friends to rely on. It was around this time that I met Lee, who I’d only communicated with through the #HikerChat forum up until then. Within a few months that I had moved, we were already regularly hiking together, I was exploring trails that up until then I’d only imagined in my mind, and we were connecting, if only for a beer, with other people who before were only names on a screen but who now are the same people who motivate and inspire me. Obviously there are too many names to list here individually but every single one has inspired me in some way.

What makes this community truly wonderful is that we all understand needs and wants. Heading to Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, or Denver? There’s bound to be someone there who’s ready to hit a trail or go climbing. There’s a number of Florida folks (an exceptional amount of climbers and skiers) who live passionately and dedicated to the sport. We feed off each other’s experiences so that one person’s triumphs can inspire another.

That’s not to say it’s only the people who connect, but we also talk to some truly extraordinary companies such as the ubiquitous ClimbOn Products in #ClimbChat, TETON Sports & American Backcountry who host #HikerChat or Sierra Trading Post who host #STPLive and who create a fun and interpersonal atmosphere that brings people together not only as people with common passions but as overall friends.

So this weekend I have the pleasure to go hiking and climbing with a number of adventurous Twitter-folk but I thought it was important to take the time and be sure that every single person of our tight knit community got some recognition, if only to say thank you for the inspiration, the friendship, and the boundless adventures ahead.

Come join us for our awesome chats:

#ClimbChat – Tuesdays at 9 PM EST 6 PM PST

#ATQA (Adventure Travel Question and Answer) – Wednesdays at 5 PM EST 2 PM PST

#STPLive – Thursdays at 6 PM EST 3 PM PST

#HikerChat – Fridays at 12 PM EST 9 AM PST

2 thoughts on “When Strangers Become Friends: An Ode to the Online Adventure Community

  1. Great picture of you and Lee. I’ve never been to the Enchantments because 1) the pups can’t come and 2) The reservation system is too challenging for me to bother with seeing as how I would have to make other arrangements for the dogs and all. It IS on my bucket list so I will probably make it up there someday.

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