By Darryl Bangert
(ED-This editorial appeared in the Colorado's Vail Daily newspaper.)
Why do we re-create? How do we?
I believe we need to get out of our ruts, our way of thinking. We need to hit reset. We must challenge our worldview. We need and enjoy physical exercise.
Perhaps we are all obsessive compulsive, to a certain extent, and in our quiet times we are desperately needing to break our thought cycles.
We are programmed to seek problems to solve.
So here we are in the mountains. They are inspiring and humbling and certainly need to be learned. They force us to look up, literally and figuratively.
We realize that there is more to life than just us and the natural awe triggers some sense of humility which is the basis for learning to share and love. And there is the question: "How do I travel in and experience the mountains?"
"Mountains speak in a voice that no ears of man can hear, mountains must be heard through the heart," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote.
We need to travel. Our need to see and experience new places. Experience such new places that we are actually doing what all religions preach: "Be still and know that I am God."
Meditate, seek your inner self, whatever. The mountain setting stimulates all this to some extent.
Walking is very simple and cost effective, as is running and snowshoeing. Certainly there is a rush, accompanied by endorphins. There are more places to explore walking than places to ride, always. So walkers have much more varied terrain.
I've got to list rock climbers in with the walkers. The Gore Range has some of the best ridges in Colorado to stroll along.
How many have hiked the Grand Travers ridge that you see from downtown Vail? Since there are no 14'ers in the Gores, the use is less with many peaks seldom being climbed. There is a sense of intimacy to be discovered with the bonus of less vertical to peaks and ridges.
You can certainly get away deeper through walking, and we have one of the best ranges in our backyards.
Riders are most of us, especially in a ski town. This is for us who love speed, new and fun forms of travel and excitement. Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, bike rides, cool cars, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, rafting, kayaking, ice skating, ...
All these sports are similar. We invent tools that are just plain fun to ride. We love to go fast. We love to learn new things, which slows our brain-aging process. We feel alive.
We do these things in a mountain setting and all these sports require learning new skills. If it was easy, everybody would do it.
We are drawn to sports that give us reward at all levels of skill in the activity and inspire us to keep with the sport as the higher levels of skill yield even greater rewards.
Skiing fits the description pretty well as do all the sports I listed.
Alpine skiing is exactly the same relative to cross-country skiing. It takes the downhill portion of cross-country and focuses on that aspect only, to the extreme.
Motorcycle riding on dirt bikes is much the same as bicycling. Motorcycles take the "fun" of the bike version of downhill single track to the extreme.
Yep, even things like snowmobiling are like skiing. Snowmobiles take the whole concept of cross-country skiing to the next level. Snow machines are great to get to places on snow and really fun to go up and down hills turning in powder, just like dirt bikes are to bicycles.
These are all rider sports, though many would not like to be affiliated with other users. I do not use those dirty machines for fun. Yes you do. What is a ski lift?
How has skiing transformed the ecology of this valley and mountain?
How much energy is used for alpine skiing? To build this town and roads and have people drive here etc.
When I hear that machines (include ski lifts, please) for re-creating are bad for the environment, I just have to look at the overall recreation in Colorado and lump them all together to keep a perspective.
How many people of the world have the opportunity to re-create in these rider ways? Not many. We are unique. I love them all, and I certainly love to walk.
Why do so many walkers hate riders? Why do so many riders hate other riders? I guess we need to "dump on somebody else." -- "Tony" (John Travolta) from "Saturday Night Fever."
Next time you feel the urge to dump on somebody, just sing a little Bee Gees tune and smile instead.
See you around, most likely riding, as I drive a lot and I ride rivers a lot and ride my bike a lot and ride my snowmobile, and ski in the backcountry, and ride ski lifts, and ice skate high mountain lakes and at the rinks and ...!
What a great country!
Darryl Bangert has a degree in environmental studies and is the co-owner of Sage Outdoor Adventures, offering guided raft, snowmobile and various other forms of outdoor recreation with different organizations for 34 years in the Vail Valley.