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Why Connecting Outside of Wifi Really is a Stronger Connection

Insta-Friends to Best Friends

For over a year now, Instagram has allowed me to connect with rad outdoor people, whom I've never even met, simply because we share a common interest. Until recently, there were two women in particular that I felt I had grown to know despite never meeting in person. One who lived in Canada and the other in my home state of Utah (literally 15 minutes from where I live). We had created this friendship that existed virtually. When I caught word that my "Insta-friend" from Canada would be passing through Salt Lake City I demanded that she come explore with our other mutual internet friend and I. 

We had planned a hike to Red Pine Lake the three of us. This is about 7 miles round-trip which took several hours to hike including some time spent at the lake before heading back down the trail. When hiking with people who are somewhat strangers, small talk only goes so far. Being in the wilderness together with little or no cell phone service requires that you actually connect with humans - what a wild idea! Having not known much information about each other, we weren't afraid to learn. We weren't scared to dive deep into topics and share not only our passions but our souls with one another. We shared stories from our younger years to today, funny to frustrating, and everything in between. I hadn't been that vulnerable or open about my life with someone else in some time and I definitely haven't laughed like I did that day. After finishing the hike and continuing the conversation and the belly aching laughs over dinner and beers, I felt like I had known them both for years.

From left to right: Lauren, Me, Lana at Red Pine Lake

This isn't the first time I have hiked with total strangers whom I've met over Instagram. Ever met someone and instantly thought to yourself: "Yep. We are going to be friends". That's what all of these new friendships have felt like. Looking at pictures allows you to get snippets of that person and what they are like. Joining in on an uphill trek together brings those images to life and allows you to go beyond the photo and into what makes them feel alive.

Now, let's back track a bit. When I was in my early twenties, I had my share of nights at the bar. If in the right setting, it's pretty easy to make friends with just about anybody at a bar (alcohol has a way of allowing this to happen). But, where do these friendships really go? Most of the time: NOWHERE! The connection isn't deep or meaningful (and for women, it usually happens in the restroom) and half the time I would bet those people don't even remember the interaction the next morning. The relationships don't exist beyond the beverage and it’s difficult to get to genuinely know someone in rowdy bar.

Once I began to REALLY get in touch with my outside-loving self, I began to realize how much more rewarding those types of relationships were: the ones where you and a friend are down to tackle an 8 mile hike on a Saturday morning, no questions asked or hit the road for a last minute camping trip. Whether I'm exploring with best friends or complete strangers, the relationship feels stronger after a few hours on the trail together. The connection was meaningful and real. I'm not saying it's bad to spend a night at the bar - I still do that from time to time. What I don't understand is how, at one point in my life, that's the only way I was "social". The relationships in my life that have continued to grow are with those whom I can relate to for hours in the trees without our cell phones nagging at us and overpowering our attention spans. Stepping out of your comfort zone and being vulnerable with someone or a group of people will create lasting friendships that you'll always cherish. 

So get off your damn phone, find a friend and hit the dirt path.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the euphoria that will follow.

Instagram: @madisonjane____

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Madison Snarr

The indescribable feeling of being with nature and forgetting about the stresses of life is a feeling I will always seek. Because at the end of the week, I would rather look back on my experiences and feel joy over re...