Growing up along foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in the 60’s and 70’s, I developed a special relationship with the outdoors. In those years, I spent most of my time outside, playing, skiing, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, tubing creeks and streams, and chasing after wildlife. The foothills around Golden, Colorado were mostly undeveloped, tame, but on the edge of wilderness. And the landscape felt endless.
In the early 80’s, I moved to New England to train with a group of runners who shared a dream of becoming faster, but It didn’t take long to discover more than just my endurance potential. While clocking 100+ mile weeks on Boston’s north shore, I experienced what my new environment had to offer: serene autumn runs in the woods, harsh seaside storms that showcased the force of nature, and the sanguine beaches that left you dirty and grinning. I cherished many of the small wild spaces, tucked inside urban and suburban communities, and also often managed to make my way to the deep, raw woodlands of Maine and Vermont less than 3 hours away.
In those years, I found myself frequently comparing one to the other – Colorado vs. New England, mentally noting which was better, and for which outdoor activity. I would rank my favorites, running up Hope Pass on the Continental Divide trail with the quick elevation rise, thin air, and long views. A long slow barefoot run on Crane’s Beach, when the tide recedes and the firm wet sand lightly cradles your foot with each step. Which was better, skiing the open back bowls of Vail on a big powder day, or riding the rolling, serpentine mountain bike trails of central Massachusetts when the trails were baked to a perfect firmness. Truth was, I couldn’t imagine a life without all of it. And in time, I would stop comparing and just learn to love it all equally.
Those years of playing in nature, both shared with others and in solitude, shaped the person I am today. Those experiences helped build perspective and develop my sense of self, and at times even helped shape my career. Most of all, it made me really happy.
Now, as I age, I’ve come to realize that accessible nature isn’t just about play, or recreation, or sport. Sure, that’s important, and I still love the pleasure and happiness that brings. But there’s a deeper connection we all share with nature. For many of us, experiencing the outdoors at any level is simply fundamental to our existence. Like air, or water, or food, experiencing our natural environment provides nourishment for our soul. It shapes our humanity. And If we lose that connection, I’m afraid a part of us, maybe one of the best parts of us, will die.
Until recently, I assumed these places and these experiences, would always exist for me, for my children, and my children’s children. Now, I realize that may not be so. What if it all disappeared? Not all at once, but piece by piece, until it has slipped away and been auctioned off to the highest bidder.
For some time I’ve been thinking, “What can Topo do? We’re so small we probably can’t make a difference”. But, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s up to me, and you, and all of us, to preserve this life and this lifestyle. Which is why, despite our small size and scale, Topo Athletic has decided to join thousands of brands and individuals and partner with Protectourpublicland.org to raise awareness about the threat facing our natural habitats.
Here’s how YOU can join in on the movement:
1. Sign the petition at www.protectourpublicland.org. Once you have signed, we keep you in the loop about relevant action alerts, local issues, and opportunities to talk to your elected officials about public lands issues.
2. Donate to protect public lands here: http://bit.ly/PLHdonate
And, on Earth Day, April 22, 2018 Topo Athletic will donate 100% of sales to The Conservation Alliance, who engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values. We hope you can help us make a difference.