Who said technology and nature can’t be merged together? Though they’re on opposite spectrums, they compliment each other quite well. That said, technology can take over the outdoor or travel experience, and we’ve covered some tips on preventing that. Often, we look at social media as a time-wasting and ego-boosting outlet, but it’s all in how each of us use it. Case in point — Instagram.
Let’s face it – Instagram is overpopulated with teenage duck face selfies, but it’s more than that – a community. And there’s quite the community of adventurous Instagrammers who’ve saturated the site with incredible scenic photos of what they do, where they do it, and the gear they use.
Updates On Trail Conditions
One of the toughest things to know before going mountain biking or hiking is what the trail is like. The weather may be perfect today, but if it has been wet and rainy (or snowy and freeze/thaw), the trail could be a mess or even dangerous. Hiking isn’t as big of an issue (depending on your physical abilities), though slippery rocks and roots shouldn’t be underestimated, but biking on muddy trails is a big no-no.
If you have a particular trail in mind, try searching a hashtag for it. For example, a very popular trail where I live is called the Wind Caves Trail. By searching #darbywindcaves or #darbycanyon you can find people who’ve recently hiked it and ask them how the trail conditions were. Granted, this can be hit or miss because even on a popular trail such as this, the latest photo (mine actually) was taken over a week ago.
I still see this as an excellent option, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area and you find a local’s photo. They would be able to tell you in general about some trail information you may not find elsewhere.
Connect With Fellow Adventurers
Depending where you live, it can be important to have a buddy while exploring the outdoors. But if you’re new to the area or just visiting, you may not know anyone to go with and show you around. Personally, I haven’t met anyone via Instagram, but I have through Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook – the idea is the same. I make a point to find and follow locals wherever I am.
Simply search for photos by location and hashtags of where you are or where you want to go. This will take multiple attempts and lend various results, but over time you’ll begin to build an “inventory” of like-minded Instagrammers. At the very least, you get to see new places you may not have heard or thought of visiting, bringing us to the next point…
See It Like A Local
Sure, you can get a pamphlet at a gas station or local store of some “must see” places. And that’s a great option if you prefer photo-hungry tourists crowding your view of the scenery. But you must ask yourself, “Where do the locals go?” After sifting through hashtags of regions and cities for a while, you’ll begin finding people and organizations local to an area – these are the users you’ll want to pay attention to and they could be the most helpful.
You can discover new trails and places and perhaps even meet up with them for an excursion, if you’ve established a connection.
Plan A Trip Of Places To Go
Need some ideas of places to visit? We all know of some of the major tourist attractions , but there are far more beautiful places to see than the Grand Canyon and the Swiss Alps.
Get A Leg Up On The Latest Outdoor Gear
Interested in a certain product or brand? Most outdoor gear companies (especially the techy ones) have an Instagram account. Look them up. If they have good public relations, they’ll answer your questions and point you in the right direction. If they use their account properly, they’ll post photos of their newest products and the best uses for their existing ones – and this can give you a more personal idea of what fits your needs best instead of just looking at a static webpage.
Become Inspired Of New Outdoor Avenues
So you enjoy an outdoor activity such as hiking or camping, but you’ve also thought about other avenues like kayaking or rock climbing. When thinking of starting any new sport like that, it can be nerve-racking. Following photos of the sport and where to do it can give you a boost of courage and an idea of what to expect. You might even find some users who are willing to shed some light with beginner tips, gear you’ll need to get started, etc.
You might search hashtags of particular activities. For instance: #kayak or #climbing. Here’s my quick recommendations for users to follow of some outdoor activities:
- GoPro Shots/Videos: @MattTheGinge
- All Sports: @TheGnarcissistic
- Mountain Biking: @MarkyMath and @Montanus_TheWildside
- Hiking: @TwoGirlsHiking
- Rock Climbing: @Ladzinski
- Amazing Adventures: @TrevLee and @SamanWarner
Quick Tip: Searching The Best Hashtags
Instagram has limitations, which is why all these awesome Instagram tools exist. One of these limitations is searching mulitple hashtags. One place or activity can have different hashtags (e.g. #mtb versus #mountainbiking), it can be time consuming to sift through them all. Mixagram.com is a website that enhances the use of Instagram by allowing you to search multiple hashtags at once.
Say you’re trying to find the place called Table Mountain/Table Rock in Teton Valley (where I live) for instance. Do you know how many “Table Mountains” or “Table Rocks” exist? There’s probably one in every region! So by searching both of those in combination with a more local landmark like #Tetons or #GrandTeton, I can find photos of the hike where I’m at.
Have you discovered any other uses for Instagram in your outdoor excursions? Share about them in the comments.