Last year on Black Friday, REI did something different-they shut the co-op’s doors and invited the nation to opt outside with them. And more than a million people did just that. This year they closed again and they partnered up with 52 Hike Challenge to opt outside and host numerous pop-up hikes around the world, amongst many other activities. The Opt-Outside movement’s main goal is to get people to skip the malls and celebrate life outdoors all year long, but specifically on Black Friday.
And can you believe they asked me to be a host of one of those pop-up hikes?!? Yes. Bad knees, fresh off a 35th birthday, white-streaked beard ol’ me. None the less, I was excited about the opportunity to do so, yet humbled and honored.
First things first, I had to pick a hike. When leading a group hike, there are always many variables to consider; distance, difficulty, location, etc. This time I had a unique challenge as I was flying back into town (Sacramento) that Friday morning at 10:40AM after spending Thanksgiving Day with my lady and her family in Las Vegas (I ate all the foods, and drank all the dranks). This meant I’d be starting the hike pretty late considering the sun sets around 5PM this time of year. I decided that our hike would be a sunset hike, which narrowed down my choices even more.
After trail scouting a couple weeks prior, I finally decided on Alamere Falls. It is a moderate 8.4 mile RT coastal hike in the Point Reyes area in Marin County, CA. Coastal views, shadowy forest vibes, lakes with rope swings and then of course, waterfalls. Not just any waterfall: a “tide fall,” a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean. This is one of only two tide falls in the area (can you guess the name of the other one?! Comment below!)
The trail was chosen, approximate time was locked in. We were ready to go! But wait; the weather forecast… RAIN. The only day that week forecasted to rain was on Black Friday. To my surprise, every person that registered for the hike was down to do that hike, that day, in any weather—rain or shine. We all packed accordingly and mentally prepared to hike in the rain and in muddy conditions. Would we even get a clear view of the sunset?! We didn’t know and we didn’t care. We all were excited to be a part of the Opt Outside movement!
We landed in Sacramento by 11 AM and made it to the trailhead with little time to spare. At a steady pace, we’d make it to the Falls within 2 hours. We had to hustle!
There was a total of 23 of us that showed up and met at the Falls just before sunset; some familiar faces and some new. The entire crew shared good vibes, soulful tales, and a gorgeous, clear sunset. That’s right—the rain held off for us! Selfies were taken, IG usernames were exchanged, Nate Poses were flexed, but most importantly, we all opted to be outside and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature on a day where millions of others fill shopping centers and retail shops.
Once the sun set, we strapped our headlamps on and started the 4.2 mile trek back to our cars at the Palomarin Trailhead as it started to lightly sprinkle. Although it was dark, the Pacific Ocean continued to roar in the background throughout the night. The sound was so powerful, yet calming.
Once back to the trailhead, we huddled and agreed on a spot where we could gather over some appetizers and a brew; The Flatiron in San Rafael. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend checking it out (order the coconut shrimp! bomb.com).
There’s just something magical about watching once-complete-strangers with a common love of Mother Nature interact and connect. At the end of the night, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and appreciation. I am so blessed to have shared this with you all and to have met 23 of the 6,033,922 individuals who chose to Opt Outside this Black Friday. Until next time.