Give a weekend warrior two days and they'll pull off a first ascent, a mazy trail run, or a spectacularly fast and light thru hike. Give them three days, and they'll come home with a trip report for the ages. Long weekends are made for adventure. They're the permission to go the extra mile, push for a second summit, or explore a new fork of the river. The long weekend is where adventure really comes to life, giving time to break away from the mundane every day. In this guide, I've outlined several strategies to help make the best of three days. It not only involves careful planning and logistics, but it also involves getting into the right frame of mind, letting go of the everyday world, and coming back with a story that is sure to make others envious.
Get In the Right Mental Frame
It's the day before the weekend. The afternoon hours are ticking away, the last phone calls are being made, and the backpack sits perched against the bottom of the desk, boots threaded through the straps. The moment that the clock strikes five, the work mentality has to be discarded, e-mail deactivated, and cell phone only to map out the path to the trailhead. Instead of a three-day weekend, make it a three and a half day and start heading out for the adventure straight from the office. The sense of adventure as the car leaves the urban landscape and starts getting surrounded by desert towers, snowdrifts, or towering forests should be the time to forget what might happen when getting back to the cubicle. Have everything packed and ready from the moment it's time to go and think only of the destination.
Beat the Crowds
Chances are, the particular holiday weekend is when everyone will be gunning for the prime cliff-side campsite. Be ahead of the game by reserving special requests like campsites or permits weeks in advance. The parks may be full but that doesn't mean that the parks are going to be necessarily crowded. One way to get off the beaten path is to check what special events the park is holding for that particular occasion, and going the opposite way. Explore a district or a section that's seldom tread or go to places that aren't as popular. Instead of the National Parks, go to a National Forest or Wilderness Area. Find climbs in remote places and use the extra day to trek in and establish camp. Don't contribute to overcrowding spectators on popular trails and save them for a time when they can truly be enjoyed.
Set a Challenge
How do you make three days on an amazing trail or high up a jagged rock route truly stand out? Make it a challenge. If there's a trail that's a popular backpacking route, try to run it, or try to fastpack in under a day. When climbing a peak, link it with other mountains, try a new route, or go fast and light, summiting and being back to the car in the shortest time possible. Not only does it make the trip more interesting, but it also saves time for driving to the next objective. Stay within physical boundaries and know your abilities before you get somewhere you shouldn't have been.