The recession is affecting my outdoor activities, but in many ways for the better. After a layoff, my new limited budget has forced me to cut travel and use the mountains in my own backyard. For the past few years I have taken a ski trip to Jackson Hole, but this winter I was forced to stay home. I instead made two trips to Wintergreen for the first time in ages. It may not have been nearly as epic, but it made me happy just to be out there supporting the local mountain. I am now getting ready for the summer, and unfortunately I won’t be traveling west to summit Mount Rainier as initially planned. Instead, I am planning a full week of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies in Tennessee. This recession has given me a new appreciation for all of the great recreation that I have available in the Southeast.
—Steve Wade, Charlotte, N.C.
Unfortunately it is affecting my outdoor activities, just like just about every other aspect of my life. I can’t justify large outlays with such economic uncertainty right now. I just look at the mountains in the distance on my way to work and wish I were somewhere on them. I just keep remembering that this too shall pass.
—Joe McAlister, Greer, S.C.
The economy has actually increased my outdoor activities. Without a job, I have a lot more leisure time. The outdoors has helped me heal and deal with the layoff, and it has given me a renewed perspective on what’s really important. I may not have much money right now, but I don’t need it to enjoy the sound of the birds and the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet.
—C.W., Oteen, N.C.
The natural world has never been more important to me than during this economic crisis. I’ve been reminded how our entire economic system is dependent upon the resources of the natural world: the food we eat, the crap we buy, the cars we drive, the air conditioning and heat that make our lives comfortable. Our entire way of life is utterly dependent on natural resources, which are mostly exploited and shipped from other countries for our benefit. We have recklessly overspent those resources. Pollution is the price of luxury, and our luxurious lifestyles have been largely responsible for the destruction of our natural resources and the economic system that depends on them. We cannot continue to expect giant returns on our IRAs and investments when those gains come by exploiting and polluting and destroying our limited natural resources (and the impoverished people and countries who we take them from). This economic crisis has been a wake-up call for me: to see the connections between my way of life and the natural world on which everything ultimately depends.
—Ryan Wylie, via e-mail
Now more than ever do I find outdoor activities important in my life. The cost of most activities are minimal, especially if you already have the equipment and clothing. I would encourage everyone to spend more time outdoors as a way to deal with the stress of these uncertain times.
—Mark Wenger, Williamsburg, Va.
Outdoor activities are the only things that I’m finding don’t have a drastically increasing price tag. Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and biking are free, and I find myself doing more things outdoors now that everything else is far too expensive. And I must admit, I’m loving life even more now. I have cut out other expenses so that I can keep paddling whitewater and exploring the outdoor world.
—Michelle G., via e-mail
I am fortunate enough to live in West Virginia next to the Potomac River, so I can walk or ride my bicycle on the C&O Canal Towpath, and canoe, kayak, or tube on the river or any of the adjacent creeks. The only cost is the gas to take the boats to put in upriver. I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, so I am now absolutely loving life in this more relaxed, scenic, healthy outdoor environment. The economy isn’t holding me back. I am spending my “disposable hours” instead of my “disposable income.” I am investing my time in the places that free my mind, so I can go back and deal with the pressures of everyday living.
—Rosanne, via e-mail