words :: Feet Banks
Photography :: Névé Petersen
Free time. That’s the best thing about summer in the Coast Mountains. Thanks to some incredibly complex intergalactic solar magic, the sun rises earlier these days and dips down way later. Summer buys us time – a free-all-all excuse to get outside and play.
Summer helps us feel free to try new things and go new places and think new thoughts. A season to ride free and find freedom and get our freak on (topless horseback riding along the riverbank definitely counts). Life is fast and full these days and who couldn’t use a few more hours of daylight as an excuse to step out into the wild and unplug? To reconnect with nature and ourselves and get into places that remind us of how small we actually are – free perspective.
But is there a cost? Is there such thing as too much freedom? Check out this issue’s illustrated guide to backcountry etiquette and learn how to behave once you step off the pavement. Because there seem to be more people than ever enjoying the freedom of the hills (which is amazing – every human being who ventures off the path comes back a better person) but with freedom comes responsibility and, collectively, we are shitting the bed on that one.
Our provincial park trails are littered with trash, our streams clogged with punctured inflatable rafts, and more bears are dying each summer because of unsecured coolers, garbage and scraps left over from a good weekend of lettin’ loose. Every summer, ignorance and apathy set another swath of BC forest ablaze. Perhaps we have it too good. Maybe humans need more rules. Does too much freedom create a world of freeloaders?
I like to think it doesn’t, and that there’s a perfect line in there that we, humanity, can ride to a better future the way a river always finds the sea or a trail follows a steep ridgeline to the summit. I believe there’s a flow somewhere in between adventure and respect and untethered happiness that we can all tap into and save the world.
Big dreams, but you gotta start somewhere. And the best place is right here, in our own backyard. Get outside, get some fresh air inside your body and think about the real value of everything around us. Then share that with someone who hasn’t thought of it that way yet.
Freedom isn’t free, act accordingly.
This was originally published as the editor’s message in the Summer 2018 “Free for All” issue of Mountain Life: Coast Mountains magazine, be sure to hit the link for the “Backcountry Etiquette Guide” that it refers to. A key companion to this piece.