Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Could the Mt. St. Helens Club be a look at the Past and the Future?

The Mt. St. Helens Club has its roots deep in northwest history. The Mazamas, founded in 1894 where among the first clubs to enjoy the great outdoors in groups for social and safety reasons. But now, could outdoor clubs take us fiercely independent outdoor enthusiasts to a more social level?
In the process of writing the “Out and About” column I was well employed making a modest living with a little disposable cash left over. In February, my employer cut my program budget in half and thus my income. Suddenly, I was making a choice between $20 in gas to drive to the other end of the county or for milk, fruit and cereal at IGA. I chose the latter. It was brutal!

Gregg on a solo trip to the top of Coldwater Peak with Beargrass and Mt. Margaret in the background.

I come from a long line of independent outdoorsmen that would much rather explore backcountry by myself or on rare occasions with a friend that had outdoor skills nearly equal to mine, Some would think some of my backpacking trips were a bit foolish, but there are few that I associate with on a regular basis I would expose to such physical exertions or tricky footing. Ironically, there is not a trip that I don’t go home and say “I wish I could have shared this with someone”.
People that live in rural areas may have some hard choices to make in the future due to the rising price of life in general but more specifically, fuel for our transportation. Gone may be the days of the weekend drive, especially solo. Let’s hope that we never have to revert back to a time when a trip from Winlock to Napavine becomes a once a month occurrence.
It is groups like the Mt. St. Helens Club that may continue to make significant outdoor experiences possible in a time of $4 a gallon gasoline. Regardless, we are generally social animals and it is only natural that we share the great outdoors with a friend or two.

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