Tradition or Habit…

When I was younger, some of my favorite outdoor excursions were whitewater rafting trips with my Dad. Sometimes it was simply an afternoon trip down a class 2 with my brother and I close to home. Other times we’d be on epic week-long trips with a huge group of river rats floating multiple rafts and kayaks. Usually on the longer trips, the entire group would get together after the trip and, over pizza and beer, add up the trip expenses and settle up on money while rehashing our recent adventures. We often rafted the Illinois and Rogue Rivers in Southern Oregon and our favorite stop was always Wild River Brewing & Pizza Co.  Pizza and beer, after 3 or 4 days on the river, just seems like an appropriate way to end a trip.

Once I had moved away from home, my father and I still found adventure together.  I would often fly back home for river trips or he would travel out to meet me somewhere for a multi-day backpacking trip.  Somehow, without really planning or thinking about it, we would end a long excursion with pizza and beer.  Even in South America after spending 4 days hiking the Inca Trail and visiting Machu Picchu, we returned to Cuzco and found a pizza place where we could end the trip properly.  At some point along the way it just became expected.  I guess that’s how traditions develop.  Slowly, naturally and without planning.  You can’t force a tradition, it just happens or it doesn’t.

These days, I have found myself falling into a similar tradition.  It’s simple really: I don’t like to hike on a full stomach.  That, inevitably, leaves me famished after a long afternoon of hiking.  So, I have developed the habit of stopping in at a local brewery or micro-brew-serving restaurant for lunch/dinner after my hikes.  Any restaurant will do so long as it’s got good local beer and it’s NOT a chain.  I’ve been lucky so far and found some amazing little places to celebrate this extension of an old tradition.  I didn’t really recognize it at first, but as I reconnect with the outdoors and that part of myself that has always loved the outdoors I am also reconnecting with the old traditions that carried me here.  It’s a way for me to give homage to the experiences and traditions that fostered in me a deep and lasting love of Wilderness.

What is even more exciting to me, is the prospect of having traditions that I will someday be able to share with my children.  Traditions that will allow them to have some level of connection with their grandfather.  Traditions that will hopefully encourage the same kind of fondness for nature and adventure that I share with my soon-to-be wife.

I know I’m not the only one.  I want to hear from you guys.  What are your post-adventure traditions?  How do you celebrate a successful excursion?  How did your tradition develop and how will you ensure that it continues?

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Dave Creech is a successful business owner and entrepreneur based in Phoenix, Arizona. He shares his personal story and lifelong passion for travel and rugged outdoor adventure through his blog at David’s focus has been on trip stories, gear reviews, Wilderness Medicine and a series of articles aimed at introducing Yoga to hikers and backpackers as a path to staying fit, healthy and injury free.



  1. Nice write up, well done. I remember some of the excursions and your dad coming home with all the stories if I didn’t go. You are right, traditions are awesome, but heartbreaking when they can’t continue.

    • That’s right, there was always the post-trip debriefing when we got home. Step-by-step, rapid-by-rapid, blow-by-blow break down of the trip with plenty of humor and laughter. Good times…

  2. I have lots of traditions like fishing with my dad, but nothing more notable than an english cup of tea and cookies when we get back home.

    When We go group backpacking we tend to find a restaurant, but unfortunately it’s usually a chain. I’m going to have to take your advice and look for something local.

  3. I wish I could say I had developed some kind of tradition with my dad, but we were never very close. I would say that my parents were largely responsible for my love of the outdoors, even though we mostly used a camper vs tents. After a good trip where I bust out serious mileage though, I definitely have developed a habit of gorging…..usually on pizza or Mexican. I also (usually) take a bit of high quality bourbon on trips to cap off the night.

    • Bourbon is a good tradition any time! When we did the Colorado River, there were enough of us that brought our own favorite brand of Whiskey that we developed a tradition, for that trip, of cracking open a new bottle every night and passing it around the campfire until it was gone. It definitely made for some memorable conversations! I’ve started introducing that same tradition to my group camping trips, but it’s been hit-or-miss depending on the crowd.

  4. Yeah, I don’t take it when leading/guiding in an “educational” setting. Otherwise it comes along on most trips, especially hardcore pushes or in winter.

  5. Pizza, Beer and Sauna is the tradition I developed with my best mate, and which I try to stick to for trips which are longer than a weekend.

    With Dad and my brother, I think it was coffee (or cacao for us kids) plus cake after fishing/ hiking/ outdoor trips. It is too long ago to really remember – I should ask my brother if he remembers.

  6. My traditions revolve around junk food and booze, of course.
    — There’s a Dairy Queen in Glen, N.H., at the midpoint between the Crawford and Pinkham notches, the two areas that sport the best hiking trails in the White Mountains. A little down the road from the DQ is the Storyland theme park (think of a mini-Six Flags). After our longer, challenging hikes, the boy and I will stop at DQ for a heaping helping of burgers, fries and ice cream. Picture two dirty, sweaty, tired hikers amid a sea of over-sugared, screaming kids and you’ll get the picture. We don’t speak. We just look at each other and nod, recounting the shared experience of the hike in our heads. The DQ has been there since I was a kid, and I remember my grandparents taking me there. My son and I have made it a post-hike stop since he was in elementary school, and he’s going to college next fall.
    — When I’m dayhiking alone, I like to stash a few beers in the half-melted ice in the cooler in the trunk of the car. They’re always ice-cold when I return to the trailhead. I drink one and share the rest with strangers coming off the path. It’s a great way to make new hiking acquaintances. (I learned the trick from some generous folks who offered me beer after a hike up Mt. Moosilaukee.) The first beer after a long summer hike tastes better than anything else in the world.

    • That’s awesome, Dave! DQ with your boy sounds like a great tradition that he will have fond memories of for the rest of his life. That’s the kind of stuff I look forward to sharing with my kids some day.

      You are right about extra beer to share on the trail, always a good way to make new friends. We would regularly run in to river-side hikers on our whitewater trips and nothing will make a hiker smile faster than the offer of free beer! I agree as well that that first cold beer after a long summer hike is the best beer ever…

  7. Terry Tyson says:

    The tradition often depends on the adventure’s location. While in Zion, post-hike-pasttime includes a generous Gin and Tonic followed by a shower and a walk to Oscar’s in Springdale. Post food-and-libations generally include one or more of the following: sitting around the campfire sipping on very expensive wine (we break out the good stuff in the outdoors, no better place for it), listening to classical music and chatting while doing both. If it’s early enough, there may be a dessert or cheese and fruit.

    If hiking locally in Southern Cali, it’s a stop at Rubio’s or other eatery that serves fish tacos. This is enjoyed with a near freezing cold beer.

    A tradtion amongst a group of like-minded friends on an extended, multi-evening is the “talent show campfire” which consists of anything anyone wishes to do, solo or with a group. Skits, magic tricks, singing, playing of an instrument, reading of a poem or story, sharing of photos or sketches~ whatever they wish to do. I once packed enough stuff in a trailer to put on a full-blown magic illusion. Of course, the enjoyment and appreciation of the “talent” increases right along with the number of empty wine bottles. We close at 9:30 or 10, keeping our laughter and such to a quiet roar out of respect of fellow campers, who more often than not, join in on the fun.

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