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The DIY Spirit of the Outdoors

Thursday, August 2, 2012
In the outdoors, we are responsible for ourselves, our comforts and our safety. Food and shelter immediately come to mind, though other things such as injuries that need splinting or even a makeshift hammock to relax the muscles after you log a day's miles won't just materialize because we need them to. A special kind of satisfaction exists in sustaining yourself, if only for the length of a backpacking trip. I was reminded of this while browsing the New York Times last week.

The Times recently ran a column that discussed the question of whether or not we as a nation are losing the skills that once made us a of great builders and at-home handymen (and women). You may ask, what exactly does this have to do with our outdoor pursuits? The answer is that a do-it-yourself spirit is inherent in the skills we use in the outdoors, everything from setting up camp and a fire to cook dinner to improvising MacGyver-style medical care. Living in the city often makes it difficult to exercise these muscles. When we escape to the outdoors for even a weekend, we feel more confident in our abilities to take care of ourselves and solve practical problems with techniques we can see.

Another way we can get flex our handyman muscles is to volunteer on our favorite trails and learn what it takes to maintain a usable parks system. A few hours clearing walkways or an afternoon rerouting a trail offers the same sense of accomplishment, and we find we can be pretty crafty when we have only our own work to rely upon.

Submitted by Paige Trubatch