Get Out

Full-on summer in Fernie, is there anything quite like it? I’m certainly not the first to observe that it’s hard to leave this place in summer. 

Recently I reconnected with an old friend who moved away some years ago and whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. We used to mountain bike together regularly, but he now admits he works way, way too much. Riding together again after years, we talked about the value of being in nature, how it allows us to disconnect from the pressures of the human world and its ability to fully occupy our minds both waking and sleeping and, ultimately, how disconnecting is vital to our wellbeing. There is considerable literature on the value of spending time in nature and its restorative powers for our physical and mental well-being.  

Case in point, I had the pleasure of participating in the Elk Valley Suicide Taskforce’s Ride for Mental Health. All I can say is boy are they on to something about the value of social, physical activity in our natural environment that is mercifully still so close at hand. Accordingly, I try to get out most mornings of the week with our dog Ellie at my heel. The trails are quiet and the vegetation dew-covered so that my arms and legs get soaked. Even my bear anxiety gives me something else to focus on, calling out into the quiet, thinking about nothing more complicated than how to get over that next root-of-all-evil. Early as I go, it will surprise no one that I am almost never the first person out. 

When I was a teenager here, we could clamber up to Silver Springs and find ourselves the only ones up there. Mercifully because my cliff-jumping cowardice wasn’t on full display to dozens of others, just a close-knit group of good-naturedly cruel friends. As well, I recall three of us setting out from what is now James White Park on inner tubes and floating all the way to Morrisey on a weekend afternoon, the only people on the river the entire way. 

Times change but these true and authentic experiences continue to be available to residents and visitors alike, if with a little more company along. Now our natural amenities require management and careful tending. I’d encourage you to check out Tourism Fernie’s AmbassadorWILD program designed to support regional sustainable tourism. Like so much in our modern world we need to ensure we don’t love our area to death clambering over one another to post about the next great experience. As an aside, I’m no expert on quality of life but suspect the quality is in living it not in posting it.

I get the irony: writing about what we need to protect by sharing what we need to protect. I would counter that word is already out and that both residents and visitors alike need to work together to ensure that we guard what we so value and that gives us so much back.