June 29 2011

7 Old School Ways to Relish Summer

By Mark Sisson
112 Comments

There’s nothing like living Primal in summer. Certain aspects just come easier: the copious fresh produce, unlimited outdoor exercise, long daylight, ample sunshine. True, those of us in the warmer states have some year-long advantage here. Nonetheless, summer remains my favorite season – probably a result of my New England roots. The brevity of the season there inevitably inspires a true carpe diem attitude. Wherever you go, however, I think summer brings with it a sense of adventure and spontaneity. Even if our school years are (decades) long gone, we still embrace summer as a kind of “holiday” from the routine. For many of us, the season is a time to explore, travel, and live outside, relegating the house to role of mere storage unit. There are the elaborate vacations, the well-planned day trips, the sporting and social events. Today, however, I’m thinking along nostalgic lines, some old school pastimes that invoke the (somewhat endangered) ease of summer.

As a kid, my favorite summer days and evenings were all about playing rough, running free, and living like the young savage I was. Needless to say, by the end of the day, I was wearing and eating the elements. Here are a few of my favorites – little to no equipment or planning required. Some, you could say, have subtle survivalist elements. Others are just an afternoon’s adventure or an invitation to lose yourself in a few hours of outdoor daydreaming. (The PB is about enjoying the best of life after all.) Each of them in some way, I think, fit the Primal theme, and they’re family friendly to boot. Here’s to kicking it old school this summer. Enjoy, everyone!

Night Walk

I’ll just say it: we don’t appreciate the dark enough these days. Caught up in the world of 24-hour illumination, we’ve lost touch with how to live at night as our ancestors did. As Richard Louv noted in Last Child in the Woods, many urban children have never even been in darkness before. They represent and feel more dramatically what our society as a whole has gravitated toward in recent decades: a fear of and disowning of natural darkness.

On the nights when I got to stay out late, I relished wandering into the thick of the darkened woods. My heart would beat faster. My palms would sweat. I felt like an alert animal, excitedly crossing a mysterious threshold. Yet, within a few yards I was one with the shadows.

There’s a more practical Primal lesson to be absorbed as well. Many have written about the modern undeveloped sense of night vision. Paul Shepard, Peter Nabokov, and others explain that the peripheral vision (compliments of those handy rod cells) we inherently use to “see” our way through a dark trail accesses a primitive level of consciousness – the primal “unconscious” as it’s often called. We can see finally when we stop thinking, when we let these long-buried, primeval abilities take the reins. For a young child, this comes naturally. For the rest of us, it’s a skill and adventure worth rediscovering. Check out your local recreation and environmental chapters, which often host night walks or at least moonlit walks during the summer.

Creek Stomping

It’s not exactly “leave no trace,” I realize, but it doesn’t get much more raw or earthy than this. (Make a mud shirt while you’re at it.) You’ve got the sun, the mud, and the water. (What more does a kid/Primal type need?) Truth be told, it’s just walking through the water, but that never dampened our exuberance. You can easily burn an afternoon alternatively gliding and rushing through the water, stopping as often as you want to inspect something curious along the banks or to check out the wildlife crawling or swimming by you – if you haven’t scared them away. (Plus, there were always the fits of laughter after someone flipped out about a leech – or several – on their leg.) We did it barefoot when left to our own devices or in old sneakers at summer camp. Done stealthily, you can snag yourself a snack, which leads me to the next pastime….

Cooking Your Own Catch

No cooler or kitchen here. Try on the old school scouting endeavor of making a fire and cooking up – right there in the dirt and sticks – whatever you can hunt, catch, or gather (observing state laws of course). Those fish or crawdads you snagged creek stomping? How about cooking ‘em up beachside? Make your feast as recreational or survivalist as you want. No need for matches or a Bic. Go hunting for some kindling and good fire bow materials. Want a brush up on primitive fire building? Check out this article.

Tubing

First thing’s first: there’s absolutely no exercise or thought that goes into this endeavor. (Of course, that’s the point.) The more cerebral among us might enjoy studying the currents or taking advantage of bird watching opportunities. Mostly, though, tubing is the most soothing activity I’ve ever found. It’s literally impossible to be stressed while meandering down the river watching the trees, birds, and random wildlife/farm animals. (Cows especially love to watch tubers.) I’ll admit it’s been too long since my last go, but I recall the times I’ve tubed like they were yesterday. There are still a number of local tubing “societies” around the country that can hook you up with the best routes and get you happily acclimated into the summer tubing culture. (Although some like the solitary approach, others go in sizable groups with stocked floating coolers in tow.)

If you don’t have a tube worthy river by you (obviously not recommended for rivers with undertow or significant white water), use your tube to float on a nearby pond or small lake. No, you don’t get the benefit of constantly changing scenery around every bend, but it’s just as relaxing.

Stargazing

One of my favorite memories of camping when I was younger was sleeping on the beach of a small island where there was no light for miles around. Truth be told, I was too excited to sleep much that night. The sky was like a velvet backdrop dusted with millions of stars. Although there wasn’t a moon, the collective light of the stars was bright enough to light the beach and water. It was mid-August to boot, which meant we got to savor one of the best meteor showers of the year. I think we stopped counting shooting stars somewhere around 130.

There’s more to stargazing, of course, than shooting stars. How about mapping the constellations or learning to navigate by the stars like our primitive brethren?

Need a refresher on the constellations and the shifting night sky? Check out this PDF, for a summer night tour or Wunderground’s site, where you can get an exact map designed for your zip code.

Trail Running

I know a number of you out there do trail runs. Having abandoned my marathoning training years ago, this is the kind of running I most enjoy now (though, admittedly, it’s more walking than running these days). There’s something uniquely fortifying about the time on the trail that I just don’t get from a running path or even the beach for that matter. Of course, I often imagine myself running after or even with an imagined deer or other prey animal. With trail running, the key is becoming one with the trail as you allow yourself to “feel” it intuitively. As Peter Nabokov writes, certain indigenous groups have traditions of “trance running,” which grows from the runner’s relationship to the trail itself. The run becomes, in essence, a spiritual interaction between the earth and the runner him/herself. The trail isn’t to be learned but trusted. As a child it just inspired a kind of high, and today it does the same.

Early Dawn Climb

Years ago on a backpacking trip, we hiked our way to what would be our base camp in thick fog. As much of a PIA as it was at the time, the next morning’s view made it all worth it. We unknowingly woke up at the base of a majestic peak. We were all in total awe.

How about earning a similar moment of wonder without the overnight trek? Head out in the earliest light of dawn for what you know to be a rewarding trail. Although you’ll be making your way in dim light on the way up, you’ll enjoy your breakfast in the company of an incredible vista. Just think: you can still make that 8:00 a.m. meeting – although you’ll probably find yourself tempted to take the rest of the day off. Not a bad idea there.

Got your own old school summer exploits to share? (In my book, you can never have too many.) Comment away! Have a great week, everybody, and enjoy getting out there!

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112 thoughts on “7 Old School Ways to Relish Summer”

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      1. Take a canoe trip through any of the bayous in southern Louisiana. Go at night. It will be unforgettable.

        1. I second this one! My husband and I went last year for four nights out, such a great experience. He is headed there this weekend with the guys for a week. I’m totally jealous.

        2. I second the Boundary Waters!!! Best time when I was a teen was a three week canoe trip in the Boundary Waters – northern MN into Canada. Even saw a moose!

        3. Noosa Everglades, Sunshine Coast for any Aussies out there! It’s like canoeing on black glass – unbelieveable, especially at night – stars above and below.

      2. Nahanni River in the NWT – about as primal as it gets on this planet.

  1. You kind of touched on this with the Creek Stomping… Fishing! Nothing beats relaxing with a line in the water and the sun on your face, whether youre on a boat, a canoe, a dock, or the shoreline.

    This list brings back all sorts of summer time activities from childhood… walking the lakeshore for turtles and crawfish, swimming or jumping bikes all day, exploring, building a fort or paintball field… I miss the freedoms of childhood, nowadays its all day at a desk and “damn gas prices” on the way home

  2. I miss walking in the woods at night. My now wife went out camping with me when we first met and she was always agitated that I never carried a flash light. Creek stomping and stargazing also rank up there. The brightness of the night sky in the absence of light pollution is incredible.

  3. Ah Mark, just thinking about doing these things makes me feel all primal inside. I would love(!) to go tubing but coming from Scotland I don’t see that as an enjoyable experience it’s cold year round here :/

  4. i love the “Night Walk”..
    i really feel like being up late in the summer time – and walk a night walk, watch the moon and stars reflect in the water 🙂

  5. One thing I’d like to try this year going camping (we tent camp, no RV comfort here) is to sit around the camp fire on heavy blankets like the old cowboy and indian days, instead of a camping chair.

    Only problam is to get my husband to stick around the campfire long enough to enjoy stargazing, he is usually the one that wants to disappear into the tent when the sun sets on the horizon and nightfall hits.

    1. I’ve never even thought to bring a chair camping. That’s what tree stumps and logs are for!

      I love camping in the summer (not a big fan of cold camping). My family is going on a 10 day camping trip in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait!

  6. I just moved to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains from a major urban area.

    I can actually do a night walk or dawn hike with little trouble!

    Thanks for the inspirations!

  7. Nothing says summer like sunny early mornings and humid, bright nights. There’s a stable nearby that rents horseflesh by the hour and IMHO there’s nothing more primal than thundering across a dusty field with a ton of beast as your legs.

  8. I’ve done them all. Just a special note about night walking. As a young child we had an out house pretty far from the house. I have always been a frequent visitor to the place, so got lots of night walking (so to speak). As a result (perhaps) I have exceptional night vision. I am wondering if it was developed from all of my night excursions to the out house???

    1. Have the same problem here in the stockholm region (Sweden), when it is finally warm enough to stay out at night, it’s to light to see the stars.
      But really, it is not a problem, it’s fantastic to sit by the sea, at midnight, it’s still all light, seagulls are flying around – talking, screaming, and you just don’t want to go to bed, just want to stay up a couple of more hours, to greet the sun.

      1. In August it starts getting dark enough. When we lived in Göteborg (little farther south, no “white nights”) I always thought of it as no visible stars from 1:a maj to kräftskivan.

  9. A night swim in the ocean (a lake or even a fetid warm farm pond). Swimming with the phosphorescence blazing all around is a trip. Clothes are optional but not recommended.

    1. Chris, it has been a long time since a 3 am summer skinny dip in the ocean! Lol, gotta do that again soon!

    2. “A night swim in the ocean…”

      Uh, you don’t watch horror movies, do you?

    3. Yes, swimming in the ocean – with the moon and its glistening reflection as companions – is a true luxury. You feel all the power of nature surrounding you. It is refreshing and thrilling – not the least because I have a steadfast fear of sharks, which I force myself to face. 🙂

    4. I saw the phosphorescence once on a night swim in the Virgin Islands… amazing…

  10. Beautiful, Mark– I agree, these are exactly the kinds of things that are worth living through winters for!

  11. You’ve covered most of my Summer favorites. I love hiking and just being out at night. I now spend most evenings out, working (playing) in my yard and love being down by the creek at dark. It cools off quickly near the water and the bats come out to swoop around and catch the bugs. Gotta drag the rest of the family out one night this week to enjoy the fun.

  12. Having done all of these activities (except the early morning climb) at one time or another in the past I have to agree that they are great suggestions and very cool ways to get “out there” and live.

    I also agree with Ginger that fishing although implied in creek stomping should be included.

  13. LOVE trail running in the early morning with my dog, off leash, no ipod. There’s nothing better for my mental health than smelling the dirt, hearing disembodied sounds of animals in the woods, peeling cobwebs from my chest, and running as a pack (of 2).

  14. I too grew up in New England. I agree that night walking has a special place in my heart. Now, I know this isn’t a summertime activity, but one of my favorite things to do was to go snowshoeing on those very cold, crisp, full moon nights. It was always awesome to head up into the mountains in the dead silence with the air almost crackling around you from the cold. I could go to places that were unreachable in the summer due to the rainforest like undergrowth of New England in the summer.

    I guess I am thinking of this now because I am in Saudi Arabia with the temperature of 103 today!!!

    1. One of my most memorable walks was a couple of years ago, at midnight, during the snow. Took my 3 dogs on a walk around a trail I know like the back of my hand (I live in snowdonia in north Wales). I took a torch with me, but it was more of a hinderance than help because the white out conditions. What normally took 1.5 hours ended up taking 3 as I kept getting lost and trying to walk to something I could use as a landmark. I’ve never appreciated the outdoors as much as that night.

      I’m loving the summer ideas Mark! One of my favourites with the kids is “tracking” an adult through the woods, finding “artifacts” like stuffed toys, treats and the like, before being ambushed by the grown ups!

  15. This is why I love MDA so damn much. Sure, talking about food is great but us primal/paleo bloggers do it way too damn much. I am incredibly guilty of it myself.
    This post is unique and extremely necessary.

    Ever since going primal 15 months ago I have become more interested in activities similar to what you talked about here. I have a 3 night camping trip planned in Manistee, MI with my 3 siblings (2 sisters, 1 brother – all older than me) and 2 soon to be brother-in-laws (yes, BOTH of my sisters are engaged!).

    It is going to be an absolute blast. We are staying in a lodge which is like a tiny cottage. Not my choice… my older older sister refuses to camp in a tent so that will have to wait.

    We plan on doing a lot of fishing in Lake Manistee and Lake Michigan. I can not wait! I used to hate fishing as a kid and haven’t thrown a poll in the water for at least a dozen years.

    Star gazing will for sure be a nighttime activity as we all sit and chat around a fire that we cook our grass-fed steaks on. They may roast marshmallows… I will roast some grass-fed hot dogs!

    I won’t be doing any trail running on this trip but I will be doing plenty of it over the next several dozen years.

    We will be renting a pontune boat for 8 hours so I don’t think we will be able to do any tubing. Although if they have a tube I don’t see why not! I mean, I wouldnt mind sitting in a tube going somewhat slow, just enjoying myself. It won’t be a “riot” but it will be oh so relaxing.

    And, I am sure we will do some night walking too.

    All of this will be happening in 5 weeks!

    1. As a fellow Michigander who visits that general area a couple of times a year, I can tell you the fishing there is great and well known to hardcore trout fishermen as one of the best fishing areas east of the Mississippi. Plenty of browns, rainbows, and steelhead. I’ve stuck to the Little Manistee River and the Pere Marquette rivers and if you get a chance, you should try and do some river fishing. Fishing lake Michigan is great, but in my opinion nothing beats the primal communion with nature that you experience wading in streams and walking through the woods from hole to hole.

      1. Thanks for the tips man! We will be right next to Manistee and will be going through the river. I’ll mention this to my brother and soon to be brother-in-laws.

        Can’t wait.

  16. Trail Running I’ve done and I love it! I want to go on a hiking vacation on my next vacation….not sure where to start looking for that in my state (Texas) but the search is on!

    1. My family went to Big Bend several times growing up, but there are a lot of places locally too. Local no matter where you are! I recently spent a weekend on the Goodwater Trail in Georgetown and it was a great escape.

      Maybe this website could help.
      http://www.texashiking.com/

  17. I love this post! Most of these were some of my favorite activities as a kid. I grew up in a semi-suburban/semi-rural area and it was wonderful — I can’t imagine how incredible it must be to do some of these things completely in the wild. this post makes me want to take a trip to a really remote wilderness area where I can hike and climb to my heart’s content…

    I think my favorite way to get primal in the summer would probably be lake/river swimming. Assuming you are an experienced swimmer, don’t be afraid to strap on the goggles (or go without, your choice) and swim across a lake (this only works in areas without boat traffic or crocodiles/poisonous fish, obviously). In fact, I just did this the other day. It can be a lake of any size! It took me about 12-14 minutes in each direction, so this was relatively small — maybe .4 miles across? It’s an incredible adventure, especially when the water and the surroundings are beautiful.

  18. This definitely hits home with me. I’m an ecologist and I study birds, reptiles, and amphibians. I often get the chance to hike a field site super late at night or early in the morning, stomp through creeks flipping rocks to look for salamanders,or taking a night hike to look for snakes.

    Field biology is definitely a primal thing.

  19. I meet the “Cooking Your Own Catch” condition almost every weekend: I go to the beach with my 6 feet net (3/8″ mesh). Not all times but often I get some nice fishes, which go directly to the cooking pan. With time my net technique has improved a lot (not easy for the beginner to throw it in a way it opens fully).

    And when I do not get anything, the WildGrok either fasts or continues getting his sunlight dose, or goes to the primal cooler and grabs a cold beer 🙂

  20. Wow, this brought me back to two summers I spent at an orchestra camp in Maine. I lived in a converted barn with no heat or air conditioning, went swimming at the nearby lake, grabbed fish for lunch at a shack on the shore, and went on plenty of night walks. We butterflied and roasted a whole pig, went hiking up a mountain, and generally had a blast. We weren’t even trying to be “Primal” — it’s just that’s what there was to do in our free time. I’m about to move to New England, and this post couldn’t gave gotten me more excited!

  21. Great points All! I’m looking forward to getting my kids (and me) a little Primal this holiday weekend. Definitely going to cook up some fish, run around in the woods at night, and maybe a little star gazing.

    Time to create some memories.

  22. In Canada a great summer activity is tubing as well but we do it behind a boat at 20-30 mph – two tubes, two people at a time. It is a good workout trying to stay on a tube or trying knock the other person off.

    Not to be tried for those with weak backs or necks.

  23. Early dawn climb: Check. Last year I hiked up from Aguas Calientes to the entrance to Machu Picchu. Left at 4 AM and started walking in the dark with only a headlamp as a companion. Ran into a bunch of other people on the way, and it was a great time. It was a 2.5 mile hike and 2500 stone steps in the middle of the night in the jungle. It was fantastic. I was dripping in sweat (my temperate body isn’t used to the humidity, apparently), but I was one of the first people into Machu Picchu for the day. It was incredible. The following hike up to Huyana Picchu through the mountain clouds was equally spectacular. Very highly recommended.

  24. Your post reminded me of one of my favorite memories from growing up. I grew up in CO and we used to tent camp all the time. One time my parents forgot to pack the tent so we slept out under the stars. The sky was amazing – so much better than what you can see in the city! I remember trying so hard to stay awake to try to see a shooting star (we saw a few that night). Absolutely magical.

  25. Why oh why is there no way to go from post to post chronologically?? I’ve been soaking up the info on this blog, but keep coming across the same posts over and over again. I’d love to be able to just click “Next” or “Back” to read more!

      1. Yes, that section is helpful, and I’m really glad it’s there. Although there are posts I come across that I didn’t know I NEED to read, and never would have thought to look for (the joint mobility series being the most recent).

        I still think it would be nice to go from post to post. I just came back from a week’s vacation and catching up was harder than it needed to be, IMO.

  26. Mark:

    It’s all so nice to read about, for the vicarious experience it brings (I’m in NYC now).

    My best summer memories are of the suburb where I grew up. There were no fences or hedges surrounding any of the houses, so kids (and dogs) ran from yard to yard. There was no need for making “play dates” because everyone was already out and about. Play, whatever it happened to be, assembled organically.

    Two very popular yards were one with a rope swing, and another with a lot of extra space that became designated, over the years, as a place where anyone could play ball anytime, without asking, so if you were looking for a pick up game, you knew where to go.

    Now that I’m a grown up, I’m grateful for the plans I have to leave the city for most August. Hopefully I’ll get to do some of the things on your very cool list, which makes for happy reading.

    Great post!
    Susan

  27. I love summer! I grew up doing all of the things you listed. Unfortunately, walking in the dark won’t happen in the summer here in Alaska, but when it’s sunny at 10:30pm, we get out and enjoy it!

  28. Love this!! Man, this brings back the memories–I grew up with a creek in my backyard. Now I live adjacent to an urbane mini-park with a paved dogwalking path. Not quite the same as the great outdoors, but hey, it’s still outdoors!

    This post makes me want to stay up late (stargazing) and wake up pre-dawn (for that early morning hike). That’s some inspiration!

  29. I find running trails at night to be one of the most relaxing things I could do. While most people scoff at the idea of getting eating by animals (really?) or it just generally being unsafe, I absolutely love it. I find that my senses are heightened. Any move an animal makes in the bushes quickly gets my attention, and adrenaline quickly rushes through my buddy, only to return to a relaxed, yet alert state. I always seem to come back with a fresh mind.

    Also, while doing the Race Across America, while not exactly the same as trail running, the shifts I enjoyed the most were the night shifts out in the middle of nowhere. The night shifts that turned into dawn/morning were always the best. The feeling of watching the sunrise while doing something so few people get to experience, while the rest of the country is busy reaching for their snooze buttons, wondering how much coffee they would need to start their day was one of the more memorable points of the race(s).

  30. I’m fortunate to be a rock climber and each summer, I travel west with a friend for a climbing trip to the mountains — this year to the Wind River Range and the Tetons. Very few things in life bring me more satisfaction than those days in the backcountry, camping out and challenging one’s mental and physical fortitude in the fearsome splendor of the mountains. Nothing that I’ve ever done focuses the mind on the present like being thousands of feet up on a sheer rock wall, searching for the next foot- or hand-hold. For those who’ve never rock climbed, consider hiring a reputable guide service to climb with. Put it on your bucket list — you won’t regret it.

    1. yup climbing is #1 for me. i live 3 1/2 hours from Smith Rock State Park

  31. Some of my favorite summer activities and memories come from spending months on a small island off the coast of rhode island, living, working, exploring. We would go skinny dipping in the middle of the day in one of the ponds, and took dips in the ocean at night for a thrill. We star gazed from the beach, and sat on cliffs and observed the beauty of the reflection of the moon on the vast ocean. I was so lucky to live among such natural beauty. Now I’m up in Vermont and there is even more to explore, not being confined to a small island. We’ve been hiking so much and I’ve been exploring new trails with my dog.

  32. all of the above… and getting caught in a summer thunderstorm while out on a bike ride. Ahhhh…!!!

  33. Great article, Mark, and brings back childhood memories. My favorite is a bike ride as the sun is setting (not blinding one’s eyes). The cool, night air begins to settle in, and around here, the deer and elk bound in the wheat fields. It seems to give my body and mind closure to the day.

  34. Thousand of stars, Mark. I feel to young to correct… 😀
    If millions were shinning there would be daylight only, now that would be cool! 🙂

  35. Great post Mark! I think to sum up your post, and my goals this summer, is simply to be outside as much as possible. Sprained ankle be darned, I’m going on a night trail run this week!

  36. This was a great post. Some of my favorite memories are of camping with my family at Devil’s Lake, WI. Last year I went camping with some friends, in an area with absolutely zero electricity or lighting, and to see the stars, and even the Milky Way, and just breath-taking. That was in October. I have a camping trip planned for the same place–just 10 days away!–and I will hopefully be able to do more than huddle around the fire trying to warm up (the northern part of Wisconsin is rather cool year round). One whole week to just be, do a little swimming, a little hiking, probably a whole lot of laughing and cooking and eating. I can hardly wait!

  37. We take our 20 month old son to the creek most days after work to throw rocks. It’s fun for him and it loosens me up after a day at my desk.

  38. If you have children, or plan on having them, Last Child in the Woods is a GREAT book. So is Natural Childhood. It is by far my favorite child development book.

  39. Great subject – I recently noticed my boys have become very buff since they have been climbing the trees in our back yard a lot, building tree forts and playing tree tag. I did that as a boy and loved it. Seems like it would be a great whole-body exercise. I plan to drag my 40-something buttocks out and climb with them.

  40. I would do anything to get back out west where I actually enjoy being outdoors in summer. I’m not cut out for the nasty and disgusting humidity in the east – saps all joy out of the summer months. 🙁

  41. I take my paddle board to the beach really early morning and glide along in the very still morning waters of the gulf of mexico. It’s mystical and magical….I watch the sun come up or “fire up” if you will. I also love night walks.

    Marc

  42. I prefer water sports, like wakeboarding, water skis! Its a great workout for your upper body!

  43. Two great rivers to tube on in Nebraska: The Niobrara River and the Elkhorn River. The Elkhorn originates in the sparsely populated Sandhills and flows into the Missouri River near Omaha. (Stay away from that area this year!) The river is not very deep and has a nice sand bottom with lots of sandbars or sandy beaches to get out and relax on. You will float past beautiful country, small towns and wide open prairie/tree lined views. There is also a nice bike path which follows this river between Norfolk and O’neill.

  44. Funny this topic should come up today. I just returned from a night climb of a local peak here in the North Cascades. I sat on the summit and watched the sun rise over a sea of clouds with other peaks sticking up like islands. It was amazing, beautiful, and even a little bit lonely. It hits you at your core. Man I love it.

  45. Best dawn climb we ever did was Mount Kenya. Up at 3AM with the guides. Got to summit (about 15,000ft) at 7AM to see the dawn. It was the top of the world!!

  46. Such a great post! Triggers wonderful childhood memories.

    I’m with mrplavick about the tree climbing. We used to pack a picnic lunch (probably peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…today I would take some grilled chicken and an apple) and hike to ‘the tree of no-return.’ It was a big old pine tree about 1/2 a mile from home. We would climb to the top and eat our lunch and then hike home. It was an all day adventure.

    And then there was nighttime tag! Oh, what fun. Shadows darting out from behind trees…giggles and titters piercing the silent darkness.

    Thanks for the memories…and inspiration!

  47. Tubing in the Ozark rivers like the Jacks Fork is a great trip. Next week we’re canoeing the Buffalo river in Arkansas and should have plenty of time to fish, hike, run trails and watch stars.

  48. GROK APPROVED BE-havior
    Cuz ya have to BE it…to DO it
    So BE the Summer..as you DO the summer fun…and my toes don’t get cold in my flip-flops..LOLOL>>>>>>

  49. Once upon a time I did a night walk through the tirolian forest with a bunch of people. My friend and I left most of the newbies behind and started marching ahead. It was a full moon but the forest was too thick to really see the ground. The trail all of a sudden stopped, ahead of us the open prarie and a stunning, blinding full moon.
    A teenage boy who was exhausted from the night hike, sweating and panting, pushed my friend and I out of the way to head into the open prarie where at the end of it was our little Lodge.
    The boy went ahead of us, fell over a log and dropped off the earth.
    The boy rolled about 300 meters down the steep hill (over rocks and ant piles) non of us saw because of the blinding moon.
    I never laughed so hard in my life. Priceless.

  50. What I love about these comments is how we all sound like exuberant children again. It’s still there in us, and it can be all the time, if we view life with that kind of fresh, wide-eyed wonder.

  51. A favorite childhood summer activity: catching lightning bugs. Some places don’t have them any more, but we do here in rural TN. We used to play outside until dark and then try to catch lightning bugs.

  52. Summer in Phoenix AZ: Right now the days are 110+F and nights are cooling down to about 80F. The birds are hanging out in the shade of bushes and trees and only flying when they absolutely have to. The water coming out of the cold water tap is just cool, but in a few weeks it will be warm. Swimming pools are great, but by the end of July, the water will be bathwater warm. The 6-foot tall brick fences that surround homes trap in the heat and don’t let breezes in. The overabundance of asphalt pavement and concrete traps the heat and releases it at night keeping the temperatures up.

    Right now the humidity and dew point are pretty low, but in a few weeks, the monsoon season will start and the humidity will make it uncomfortable to be outside anytime of the day or night — unless a dust storm or thunderstorm is raging. The weather won’t start cooling off until late October.

    The lakes around the city are crowded. Camping in the high country is a tradition in Arizona, but the northern part of the state has been ravaged by forest fires. Forests are closed and camping is restricted.

    You’ll find people walking or jogging at sunrise, but in the middle of the day the only people outside are landscaping crews and people who have to take the bus or ride their bicycles to get anywhere. Phoenix is not a pedestrian city and will never be. It’s too spread out.

    We get cabin fever in the summer because it’s just too hot to do anything outside.

    1. That sounds horrible. I never thought of the impact of the walls surrounding housing areas. I also saw a documentary that stated that AZ esp. Phoenix is drying up and getting hotter with each summer. The water comes from another state through a HUGE canal, which stretches for hundreds of miles, is that true?

      So that part of AZ has no water of its own, why did ‘white man’ settle down in that area when they first came over?
      I guess they never thought they’d run out of ANY resources.
      Sure makes it hard for everyone there now.

  53. Catfish noodling! The most masculine, Primal, sexy thing a man can do in the summer!

  54. It winter here in New Zealand. I take my dogs for a walk most nights and have an abundance of trails to follow. I used to take a torch but it’s just so much more relaxing without. No need to concentrate on the lighted area; just trust your instincts and go.

  55. I love this! I grew up in the Midwest and we truly celebrated summer. Now I live in the subtropical Florida weather and summers aren’t celebrated with the same zeal.

  56. I live in Charleston, South Carolina. This evening we had a summer storm and, I took my dog, Zoe. to the beach (Sullivan’s Island)

    Because of the weather it was just she and I. AND… She got so FRIGGING excited and ran and was so happy- I thought, man, I am lucky to be there and be around her, and, why don’t I feel like that every time I get to be near the ocean.

    Happy summer everyone 🙂

  57. Catching (and releasing) fireflies – for those of you in the Upper Midwest. You get some exercise chasing after those lightning bugs, and it’s super fun for kids.

    When I was little I was scared of the dark so at about age 8 or so, my dad started taking me for night hikes during the summer. All the night noises that had scared me suddenly became more familiar – and less scary. Owls, coyotes, crickets, frogs… (ok, the coyotes still freak me out!). But those were some of my fondest memories and it meant so much to have that quality time and be learning something besides.

  58. this is so crazy!
    the other night i really wanted to go for a late night walk.
    i have not gone creek walking in years and am recently decided i need to go agian this summer.
    as i was leaving my moms house tonight(she lives in some what country) I looked up at the stars and thought i want to go out and just lay on a blanket and stare up at them.
    i love sunrises and not going for a morning hike but will venture out to see one in the near future.
    and now i just read this list! glad we agree on many summer favorites! thnks

  59. We spent the summers on our bikes. We left the house at some very early hour and didn’t come back until it was dark. We didn’t go inside until forced to because we would play kick the can in the woods across the street from our house until bodily forced into the house by our mothers. We raided gardens for peas, carrots, raspberries, crab apples and drank from whatever hose was handy. The joys of living in a small town where such behaviour wasn’t only indulged but expected….

  60. ‘unlimited outdoor exercise, long daylight, ample sunshine. True, those of us in the warmer states have some year-long advantage here.’

    Actually, for those of us in the warmer states, summer is an absolutely miserable time.

  61. Reading in a tree — not sure how primal this would be, but I spent most of my childhood in the crotch of a tree reading. It was in the front yard of my suburban house and I just now got a flash of what the neighbors must have thought about that weird girl who spent hours in tree every day with her nose buried in a book. LOL! At least it was outdoors. Bugs, heat, wind — ah, that feeling just before a thunderstorm hits when the air is alive and you don’t want to EVER go inside, so you wait until the first drops fall — when you have to go in so that your book isn’t ruined. 🙂 I spent too much time reading and not enough time doing as a kid, but I’m making up for it now.

  62. We love summer around here in MN!!! Its not a long season for us and we try to take advantage of it as much as we can!! After dinner summer walks with the kids, grilling out almost every night!! Our fav is sitting around the fire pit enjoying a great summer evening!!

  63. I think those of us in more northern regions have a special experience of summer with our super-short nights. I love late-evening walks in the summertime–there’s something magic about the lingering daylight. I remember one Solstice night where my friends and I stayed up all night,laying stretched out on the grass, drinking homemade hard cider from the previous fall and watching the sun linger, barely disappear in the twilight, and then return to the sky.

    I also love summer thunderstorms. I used to hang out with my dad under the porch roof and watch the lightning flash across the sky. These days, my partner is also a storm lover, and we sit out under the shelter of the eaves with our arms around each other and relish the thunder.

  64. My summer relaxation is paddle boarding on the calm Lake Michigan. I love watching the sunset, and moon rise, and the calming sound of the waves crashing on the beach. I love summer time!

  65. I’ve been gone a long time, but reading these fellow Michiganders reminds me of a trip when I was about 13. Dad took the five of us (two sisters, me and mom) on a hiking/canoe trip around the inland lakes of Isle Royale in the middle of Lake Superior. Long lakes dot the island, and dad and I (older brother) had to portage between. We lasted a week or so in the woods on freeze-dried stuff and some fish, if I remember right. What an adventure!

  66. Hi Mark….THANKS again for another wonderful post! As always, your zeal and 110% belief in the PB lifestyle comes across beautifully in your writings. Your words of wisdom are always welcome guidance on my journey of becoming more Primal. Today’s post brought on goose bumps with the long forgotten childhood memories of true carefree FUN. The night walk, tubing, and trail running are absolutely on my list of things to do this summer.

    I’ve been reading your post for months now, it’s about time I say “thanks”!

  67. What, no mention of catching fireflies? That’s one of my favorite childhood memories, running around in the dark in a backyard or field, with my brothers and our friends, collecting jars of fireflies to glow up our rooms for the night. My parents would always let them go after we fell asleep…

  68. It may be for the younger, whether chronological or merely the young at heart, but catching fire flies was one of my favourite things as a youngin. There was also hide-and-seek at night.

  69. This list sounds great, but sadly it’s hard to enjoy summer Primally with an insect phobia :/ I really must get over this. Going to the beach and some trail walking is the most I can do at the moment.

  70. I love my teaching job but summer is sweet! my 7 are:
    1. stand in a small creek catching and releasing trout
    2. climb anyplace there’s bolts in the rock, climb as much as possible.
    3. sleep in the bed of the pickup in the forest or by climbing areas struggling to keep my eyes open to spot falling stars
    4. campfires (in the backyard and campgrounds)
    5. ROAD TRIP
    6. picnics at the lake with the sailboat, kayaks and slack line set up on shore
    7. get the mountain bike on singletrack

  71. Went for a trail run today….it was fantastic!

    Plus, I think I’m going tubing on tuesday!

  72. When this question was asked a few weeks ago I a great song to share…I just found it…hope this travels

    C:\EUDORA\Attach\Track09.rar;