Why Bother To Regard Recreators?

Why Bother To Regard Recreators?

Of the fifty-three million acres of land in Idaho, twenty million is national forest. With forty percent of the land dedicated to maintaining seven national forests we could say that Idahoans love the out-of-doors 

Inside those national forests are campgrounds, hiking trails, rivers, lakes and streams. Miles upon miles of dirt roads lead to trail heads that take you deeper into wilderness  areas. And the deeper you go, the wilder it gets.

These national forests are open to the public and anyone and everyone is welcome, yet we all have our own ideas of how to recreate in the great out-of-doors.

Not Everyone Has The Same View of Recreation

How we spend our time recreating or refreshing ourselves, I think, depends on our point of view or from where our view of nature comes from. Mine started with my Dad. 

My father liked sitting on the porch swing after dinner to smoke a cigarette. Being the youngest daughter, I usually found myself on his lap instead of in the kitchen helping with the dishes. When thunderstorms rolled in we stayed put on the swing, under the shelter of the porch roof. As the air chilled and the leaves rustled in the breeze, Dad tightened his arms around me and we watched the performance together. The dusky evening turned black, lit by flashes of lightning for seconds at a time. Next came the low rumble of thunder that sounded as though God was rolling a giant bowling ball across the floor of heaven. The boom that followed, a strike, always made me jump. Finally, splats of rain hit the porch roof and sidewalk, slow at first and then increasing with volume and velocity. 

The storm’s intensity never lasted long before it moved on to the next county. Then the air warmed again, the light of dusk returned, and the sounds of crickets replaced the thunder. 

Watching those storms with my father taught me that nature is powerful and beautiful at the same time.

Later, when we moved to Colorado, I’d fall in step beside one of my older brothers and we’d cross the county road that ran in front of the house, traversing the endless game trails. Or, we’d cross the highway behind the house to walk along the shore of the West Animas River. Wherever we went, I smelled the scent of pine trees, heard the river rushing over rocks and felt the sun on my skin. From my brother, I learned how simply one can enjoy nature. 

After marriage, and while raising sons, my husband and I took them on hikes into the mountains to swim in the cold lakes or to rocky points where we sat and stared at vistas that stretched for miles. It was our way of introducing them to the power and beauty of nature and simple ways of enjoying it. 

There are lots of ways to recreate. Some prefer to fly fish in a river while some elect to float down the water in an inner tube. Some favor the idea of camping in a tent, others would rather take their motor-home. Power boats and wave runners share the same waters as kayakers, and swimmers. And hikers may find themselves on the same trail as motorcycles. 

However we choose to enjoy the great-out-doors, perhaps it would be a good idea to remember that nature does not belongs solely to anyone, rather it is something lovely to share.  

Why bother to regard recreators? It is worth it to regard recreators since we all have something in common. We simply want to enjoy the beauty and power of nature from whatever point of view we view it.

Why Bother To Notice Nature?

Why Bother To Notice Nature?

Every spring a pair of ospreys return to the old nest, located at the top of a tall pole a block or two from my house. From my kitchen window I can watch them as they work together to add fresh sticks and new seaweed to their worn out home they left last fall. While sitting outside I can hear their whistle like calls to one another. In the early mornings and late afternoons, I observe how the male brings home a fish for the female who guards unhatched eggs from any predators. In essence, I get to observe up close, how my neighbors, the osprey, live their lives.

Companions for Life

Ospreys mate for life, never growing tired of one another’s company. They also become very fond of their breeding ground and return to the same nest year after year. When I view the home they come back to, I dub it as a dilapidated shack lacking in charm, security and comfort. Most of the twigs and branches that once sat atop the pole have blown away during winter wind storms leaving barely anything that I would find worth coming back to. Never-the-less they come back and sit on their pole letting us know with their high pitched whistles, that they have returned to the neighborhood.  

They do not waste any time putting their home back in order. They spend their days flying around the vicinity picking up materials with which to refurbish their nest. United in effort, they haul branches, twigs and seaweed back to their platform and work these items into place with their claws and beaks. At the end of a long day, they sit together in their tall perch appearing proud and content with the work they have accomplished. 

Once the nest is complete the mating ritual begins. Before copulating, the male sparks the interest of the female with food. He catches a fresh fish, delivers it to her feet and feeds it to her. Romancing her on more than just one summer’s eve will eventually produce the eggs that become their offspring.

Protecting these eggs is a full-time job and one parent is always on call hovering over their precious treasures. Never do they leave the eggs in their nest unattended. No matter the weather; wind, rain or scorching heat, when I look up at the nest, I see the vigilance of these birds. 

Before long, these eggs will hatch and the male’s trip to the river for fish will increase to several times a day. He will have to work harder to feed not only his mate, and himself, but their offspring as well. Once those babies break out of their shells, their non-stop noisy chirps for food will fill the air. 

Then, before the end of September, when the whole family migrates to a warmer climate, the older pair will teach their young ones how to survive. They will give instruction on short and long distance flying, fishing for food and how to dodge predators while soaring high on currents of air. 

My neighbors, the osprey, are hard workers, who never complain. They are not excessively noisy, and keep their home in good shape. Their children are not left unattended and they give them practical training for life. The osprey live harmoniously as a family unit and each season, they live in harmony with their neighborhood. 

Why bother to notice nature? Even birds are worth paying attention to. Their lives can be a lesson to us all.

Why Bother Taking A Hike?

Why Bother Taking A Hike?

The loosely knit group of women that I met with last winter in a coffee shop to talk about hiking has actually formed into a group of hikers. On Saturday, we tied up our hiking boots, zipped up our rain jackets and slung our day packs onto our backs hitting the trail for our maiden voyage to a mountain lake. 

        Out in the Wilds

The purpose of this day hike was to begin training our bodies to walk on uneven ground while carrying a little bit of weight on our backs, find our comfortable pace and at the same time, become acquainted with each other as hikers. The mileage to and from the lake would be only about a four mile round trip. Not very long, but long enough for all of us to get our trail legs under us. 

Patches of snow and rivulets of water covered parts of the pathway, but it was easy to stay on course. As we tramped, we talked, each of us sharing about our trail experiences. The leader, whose idea it was to form this group, is the most well-grounded of all of us with the backpacking experience. Her goal is to complete the Idaho Centennial Trail and every summer she maps out a particular chunk to hike. The 900 mile trail winds its way from southern Idaho to the border of Canada and is not always well marked. She has become adept at reading the maps she downloads onto her phone. Even for this short day hike, she showed me the route as it appeared on her phone screen. The likelihood of getting lost with her is minimal to none.

Another gal in our group grew up under the tutelage of her Marine father. Stationed in various parts of the world, he began taking her out for hikes before she enrolled in elementary school and taught her to shoot and carry a gun by the time she was in high school. Now, as much as possible and as often as possible, she introduces troubled teen girls to the beauty and wonder of hiking in the wilds of nature. One such girl accompanied us on our hike to the mountain lake. She didn’t have much to say about the endless green forest of trees, or spring flowers that surrounded us, but her face broke into a big smile the first time she successfully forded one of the creeks without getting too wet. 

At times, I walked at a pretty quick pace and instead of hearing the chattering women, I let bird songs and the sound of rushing water from the nearby creek fill my ears. Along the path I spotted spring flowers and marveled at the moss laden trees. I breathed in the scent of damp chilly air and felt the comfort that comes from the simple act of walking a path that leads through the woods. When I looked up and gazed out at a green meadow, I noticed an animal rooting around. Its wide backside and brown fur alerted me. It was a bear. I turned around and walked back to the group of women telling them that I’d just sighted a bear. Then I fell behind the lady who carries a pistol and knows how to shoot it. We all watched the bear as it hightailed it up the hillside.  

We arrived at the lake around lunch time and took shelter from the rain under a stand of trees. We munched down our power bars, nuts and apples while staring out at the vista: the lake, fog lifting from the hills and tree covered mountains around us. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction standing in the midst of nothing but the wild beauty of nature.

Why bother taking a hike? It is worth venturing out to stand among the trees, filling your ears with birdsong and your lungs with chilly damp air. The only expectation nature has of us is to simply enjoy what it has to give us: its simple and satisfying beauty.