*This post is sponsored by REI but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
REI was started to facilitate experiences outdoors, not just with gear, but through curated and guided outdoor excursions. I’ve taken several of the offered day trips as an intro to climbing and also for open water kayaking.
This weekend I was fortunate to be invited by REI to take a Fall Colors Hike, in an area I thought I knew but was wrong. Unsurprisingly, their guided outdoor experiences are a great way to discover new things about the area where you live.
The guides for the outdoor outings are knowledgable, experienced and connect one to the outdoors with a local’s perspective. These are people who are passionate about experiencing the outdoors and want to share that joy with you.
Our guide, Mark, took us off the beaten path to explore. Away from the main trail, only the occasional airplane interrupted the quiet of the less-trammeled woods. Open meadows got our hopes up to see deer or other wildlife. A walk atop an esker (a long, winding ridge created during the last ice age) brought geology and history to life.
As a national leader in outdoor education with the largest instructor network in the country, REI wants to make experiencing the outdoors fun. There are active, social, and community aspects in all of their programming. They are also a fun way to spend time with loved ones (or new friends!) outdoors.
Due to the vagaries of weather, the fall colors were just starting to change, so our hike was more about being outside and learning about progressing from a day hike to overnight backpacking. Mark also took the opportunity to teach us about the local plant life, primarily the importance of identifying poison ivy.
Check out REI’s guided outdoor excursions for all types of fun, like bike workshops, kayaking, hiking and having a beer with new friends, and paddling under a full moon (not guaranteed, haha).
Everywhere in the preserve there were examples of people not following the principles of Leave No Trace. While we were definitely in a well-used forest preserve, there were reminders that not moving lightly on the land impacts everyone. Carrying all your trash out, puddles widening the trails, and the best way to poop outdoors were all discussed.
Besides the benefit of getting people outdoors, the REI guided outdoor day trips give you a chance to be social, have fun, learn and grow, and try new things. We all have limited free time – this is a way to spend that time well.
This fall colors hike with REI reminded me why I enjoy these outdoor experiences so much. While the itinerary and experience is up for change due to conditions, I always come away with more than I expected.
I know I’ll sign up for a future outing, most likely with my kids as they come of age, to show that there is always more to learn and that the great outdoors are everywhere, if you know where to look.