If you’d rather take a walk on the quiet side than the wild side, you’re not alone. In fact, with anywhere from one-third to a full half of Americans identifying as introverts, you are—perhaps ironically—in good company! And there’s plenty of perks to be had as an introverted explorer of the great outdoors.
Solo is Simpler
Being most comfortable in your own company creates a cornucopia of choice camping for you: maximum site capacities aren’t even on your radar, and scoring a single permit is always going to be easier than grabbing two or three. And while other people are scrambling to find and book campsites for six or eight or twenty of their favorite humans, not to mention coordinating all those schedules and all that gear, you can simply pick up your pack and head out into the wildest blue yonder you can imagine.
Ansel Adams. Cheryl Strayed. Henry David Thoreau. JK Rowling. If you’re more of a thinking introvert than a social introvert, easily lost in your own fantastical inner worlds and given to feats of introspection and self-reflection, you could do with worse inspiration for your imaginative forays than some of our world’s natural wonders. Pack your favorite journal to jot down your mental meanderings and you’ll be able to return with more than just memories of your adventure.
Specialization and Focus
There’s a good reason why Mensa membership is dominated by introverts. We love to get really, really good at what we do, and our brains are well-suited for supplying the focus we need to get us there. Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor activities that reward our flavor of intense study, from the rewarding intensity of technical slot canyons to the patient hyperfocus of the wildlife photographer aiming for the perfect shot.
Silence is Golden
Introverts are perhaps infamous for our quietude. Of course, we know these still waters run deep—our brains literally process information differently than extroverts, using longer neural circuitry that invokes both long-term memory and planning centers—but to the chatty world outside our heads, we just seem like good neighbors. After all, nobody’s going to call the rangers on you for being too quiet! And Mother Nature herself may even reward your respectful silences with glimpses of animals that noisier campers might drive off.
Irony by any other name would be no less delicious, but it’s true: people are more impressed by solo achievements than group ones. And it makes sense, considering that one of the most common definitions of extraversion is feeling energized by the company of others; going without other people must seem a sort of psychic deprivation if you’re used to relying on your friends to recharge you. Intentionally spending time alone? That’s bananas. Intentionally spending time alone with nothing but your own gear, grit, and wit? And bagging a fourteener to boot? That makes you a rockstar.