Let me introduce myself. My name is Jackie Lucero and I’m the Director for Programming in Elko. I got into the outdoors accidentally. I grew up in Montana running cross-country, and hiking just happened to be a natural progression from the sport. As a high schooler, I was involved in cross-country not because of the competition, but because of the teamwork and the cooperation. Anyone who never ran long distance would assume that it is an individual sport. In the way that it is scored individually it is, but it is also a cooperative venture. Even if you don’t know the person who you are running alongside you are cheering for them. Sometimes with a gesture, but also sometimes with a friendly word of encouragement. It is a place where athletes acknowledge the common struggle and the common desire for accomplishment. And because of that which we hold in common, we acknowledge our shared humanity. The outdoors is another place where humanity comes together.
Many of us go to the woods, to the desert, to the lake to get away from the rush of everyday life and commune with nature. We go to see the fawn take its first few steps, to see the salmon reach its spawning grounds, to see the sage grouse do its funny little dance. And in the process, we shake off the chaos and speed that fills our everyday lives. In the outdoors we are at peace, and for whatever reason when we find that peace we also find our humanity. I could count the number of random conversations that I’ve had with people in Elko when I’m at the grocery store or doing my errands around town- hardly any. Perhaps I chat with my checker or bagger at the grocery store, but other than that, the conversations I share with strangers is minimal. When I am out cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking I talk with everyone. Everyone is out having fun, enjoying their day and we all want to share our joy with others. We talk about places we’ve been, and where we hope to go. We share campsites and campfires with strangers. And when we are in trouble we help each other out. It is just what we do; it is our outdoor ethic. Unfortunately, that ethic slowly slips away when get back in the bubble of our individual cars. So how do we hold onto it? Some of that ethic we can keep simply by choosing to be open people, but it also requires practice to maintain that good habit.
It gets difficult to get out this time of year, but we all must try in order to keep hold of our humanity. Please pay attention to the “upcoming events” section of the calendar for snowshoe and general hikes that will be taking place in both Elko and Winnemucca over the next few months. It is a great opportunity to get outside, meet some new people, and soak up the Vitamin D your body is lacking. In addition to NOS, there are a number of other outdoor groups sponsoring events in both communities where you can get involved. Even if it is just you and your family taking a walk after work in your neighborhood, chances are you will run into another soul taking a similar walk basking in the truth of the beautiful place where we live and in that connection, ignite your humanity once again.