Carefree childhood days are best replicated outdoors
I grew up in Anchorage in the 1970s. This was the age of moon boots, cassette tapes and station wagons. My family was made up of my parents, my three brothers and me. We lived in a small but tidy home on the east side of town next to Chester Creek. The outdoors were our playground, and we would spend hours at the creek building forts in the woods, ice skating at the local elementary school rink and having snowball fights in our yard. I am not sure if it was the fact that I was a kid and hadn’t grown into the daily stresses of adult life or if this time was just a little more relaxed and carefree.
The woods next to our house were easily accessible and this is where my love for the outdoors began. The smell of the crisp air, the sounds of the trees and the songs of the birds all came together to make a melody that I continue to seek. During this time it wasn’t uncommon for my brothers and I to be gone for hours on end. We would head home only for a quick bite to eat and then would be back to our explorations. A time prior to cellphones and helicopter parents, I was content in the forest and the nature that surrounded me.
Fast-forward to today, and the world is a much different place. We are plugged in and awash with massive amounts of information and images on a daily basis. Where we once received our news from a daily newspaper and nightly newscast, we now have access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are connected over vast geography through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Our cellphones allow us to be in contact with our families, friends and employers at all times and in most places.
While I appreciate and embrace most aspects of a new “techy” world, I find myself searching for ways to re-create my previous unplugged days and to connect with nature on a regular basis. My excursions have led me to the mountains and while riding a sled; this is where I feel almost a magnetic draw to return again and again.
The mountains have become my playground whether I am riding with a small or large group, with friends or family. The time inside my helmet is always the same. I am able to clear my mind and hear myself think. The worries of the world drift away and I can focus on my group on the trail or my line in the trees. Endorphins are flowing, and I am in my happy place.
This time is all mine, and although I am surrounded by people, we are only communicating with hand signals. This leaves my mind the opportunity to process without interruption. My husband always says that women are master multi-taskers and this seems to be the case when I am out riding. Staying safe is the top priority, so that is always at the forefront, but as that is accomplished I begin to mentally go through items in my head with no timeline required for resolution. This more often than not leads me to a feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to be bathed in the outdoors and that sense of gratitude brings me peace. Mental solitude and contentment is hard to come by these days, and I treasure every minute.
As we get closer to winter and fall colors turn to snow, I will be planning my days in the mountains. I look forward to the fresh falling snow, bluebird days of riding and memories that will be made with those around me. My internal compass is facing north, and that is where I will be. The mountains are my playground, adventure leads and I