Photo: Mike Rolfs enjoying the mental health rewards of the outdoors during the inaugural WenatcheeOutdoors Day.
by Andy Dappen
What’s the big deal about Friday, March 21 this year?
Is it because it’s the first full day of spring? Hardly.
Because it’s another TGIF? Meh.
Because the count-down leading to Easter has now started? Nooo.
The BIG significance is this: Friday March 21 will be the second annual celebration of WenatcheeOutdoors Day – that famously fabulous day when locals are encouraged to take a mental health day from and work and ‘Get the Heck Out (doors).”
Why get out? For starters, outdoor recreation is a powerful gateway to personal wellness. Get out regularly to hike, bike, paddle, climb, or ski and it is difficult NOT to whip the body in shape and shed stress in the bargain. Furthermore the church of nature where outdoor recreation is practiced will incite wonder. It’s hard to spend time outdoors on a regular basis and not start pondering how this all came about. Different people derive different answers to the ‘how’ of it all, but starting this quest puts the rather mundane accomplishments of human technology into perspective. It makes our fascination with the coding locked up in a smartphone look ridiculous next to the microscopic codes locked up in molecules of DNA. It makes us aware of just how amazing the ordinary surroundings of Central Washington are.
And these are just the personal fruits of outdoor activity. There are also huge community benefits. If, as a community, we embraced outdoor recreation en masse, we would see community obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and more take a dive. We would see community mental health float. We would see economic benefit rubbing off on businesses with a connection to the outdoors and we would see growth in jobs as new services developed to help the community make better (or safer) use of the outdoors. And we would see the concern for conserving or caring for our natural lands increase.
That’s a lot of benefit to be derived from the outdoors.
So what should you do this year to help move yourself toward those benefits on WenatcheeOutdoors Day? What are some inspired ways for you to promote personal and community wellness? Spend the day:
· Downhill skiing at Mission Ridge or Stevens Pass
· Nordic skiing at Echo Ridge of Stevens Pass Nordic
· Hiking a loop around the east and south sides of Saddle Rock
· Mountain biking the ponds and benches around Ancient Lakes
· Rock climbing the south-facing cliffs at Vantage
· Snowshoeing the roads or ridges in the Blewett Pass environs
· Cross-country skiing the Five Mile Road near Blewett Pass
· Paddling a stretch of the Columbia River (the stretch below Wanapum Dam is particularly interesting right now due to the lowered river level)
Complete written details and topographic maps for these ideas, as well as for a hundred other seasonally appropriate outdoor adventures, can be viewed and printed from the online guidebooks at WenatcheeOutdoors.org.
Enough words – time for action. Tell your boss there are higher reasons why it’s important for both of you to participate in WenatcheeOutdoors Day this year. Given that participation could change you and the community at large, March 21 is a big deal this year.
Additionally, share your pictures and videos of how you celebrated with us to be instantly entered into a drawing for some of the toughest outdoor prizes around! Email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit WenatcheeOutdoors.org, or check our Facebook page to enter. Be sure to include #wenatcheeoutdoorsday #justgetout.
A small group hunting for sidecountry stashes of powder while skiing at Mission Ridge during the inaugural WenatcheeOutdoors Day.