Will Call: A slower pace

This week, the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale celebrates some of the most spectacular feats of strength and dexterity people can achieve in the great outdoors.

It’s an amazing spectacle and helps establish a brand for unspoiled nature that I can only assume contributes to environmental efforts. It’s great to recognize those talents and tell the real human stories behind those efforts.

Still, I think it’s worth occasionally taking a moment to remember that the vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts aren’t kayaking off a waterfall or bivouacking on a cliffside.

That seems obvious, yet I often feel as though I have to justify myself for preferring hiking to biking, flatwater to rapids or cross country skiing to downhill.

The solitude and transcendence of nature bordering on ego death is it’s own reward, but spending time outside seems to have become inextricably linked with one activity or another. And while my grandfather can enjoy standing by a river regardless of whether he catches any fish, I find it hard not to compare myself to others under such circumstance.

Most of the time, this is a minor inconvenience.

It’s an awkward moment when an ultra athletic friend assumes there’s something wrong with my bike because I’ve stopped to rest and enjoy my surroundings. It’s explaining to others on the range that my archery skills are nowhere near developed enough to actually try hunting. It’s the afterthought snowshoe group for a middle school field trip mostly geared around skiing.

Occasionally, though, it turns into something more. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of noise about allowing bicycles in Wilderness.

Now, I certainly understand the frustration of having your favorite activity barred from some of the country’s most scenic and pristine areas. There’s also logic to the assertion that bikes are a far cry from the truly motorized traffic that the designation bars.

Still, I doubt I’m alone in wanting a few places where I don’t have to jump aside to allow a group of bikers to whiz by. One of the most protective designations in the United States seems like a good place to draw that line.

Bikers still have millions of acres to play on.

It’s a shame that our activities pit us against each other despite our common love for the outdoors.

We ought to be willing to accept some limitations to preserve everyone’s experience.

Dogs aren’t allowed in Carbondale’s parks, so we cede them the nature park even if that wasn’t the original idea. I can’t go caving at Hubbard, and I probably shouldn’t try to hike on the Prince Creek bike trails.

Let me assure the extreme athletes among our readers that I’m every bit as fond of our collective backyard as anyone. As for what I suspect to be a silent majority, maybe I’ll see you out there.

Will Grandbois actually does own a mountain bike, and will prove it at tonight’s full moon cruise. He can be reached at 384-9105.

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