We all know the joy in finding a new, amazing place to ride/camp/fish, especially if that place is one that you discovered on your own, that is only marginally mentioned on the internet, that the shop guys don’t have the info on, that isn’t on any app. My first instinct is to tell all my favorite friends about this most awesome place we found!! Because, really, when you are bursting with excitement, it is natural to want to share.
Recently a friend told us he was sworn to secrecy about a place that we knew about and had never thought of as secret. We’ve been there to fish a few times, and have talked about it more than a few times with the guys at the shop. (One of them worked hard to restore fishing in that river, I believe, and is proud that people can fish there.) It is an inconvenient distance from the city, and a relatively small river (both of which help in keeping the crowds away, probably more than secrecy). I like it okay, but it does not sparkle for me. I am happy, though, that there is a guy out there who feels it is a place special enough to hold close.
I’ve often shared places that are remote and relatively unspoiled, knowing that very few of the people I tell will ever go there. In the end, most people want familiarity, ease, convenience… and what RK and I tend to seek out is unfamiliar, potentially awkward, and inconvenient. You may have to walk a mile to find the giant fish! And you may not find any fish at all, but it will be beautiful! One mile walking is a huge deterrent, it turns out. Add in a scramble over a boulder field, tight trees, thistles, fence hopping… you will definitely have the place to yourself. So I can be generous with information and still feel pretty certain that it won’t be overrun and spoiled with too many people.
One of my favorite mountain bike rides ever is published on a popular map and rated 5 stars on a couple of apps. It is not convenient to anywhere, but we raved so insistently about its awesomeness that some friends asked to go back with us (and they also loved it, and appreciate remote places enough to return on their own). I recently gave the info to some other friends, but suspect that it will feel too inconvenient for them. There is only so much I can do to share the wonders of the mountains.
However, we recently discovered a place that feels incredibly special. For the first time, I feel selfish with the knowledge (I will tell you a general location, if you ask, but no specifics). We were lucky with the discovery but then worked hard for the details. We have taken a few trips back, and I am not looking to keep it a secret (it isn’t one, though it is little known and barely on the internet) but to keep it a discoverable place for those willing to take a chance and figure it out on their own.
I find that I care less than ever about being where the cool kids are, ticking off rides, rivers and radness. There is too much else out there, out of the way, and not so much unpopular as unpublicized. The reward is in locating the right dashed line on the map, taking the right turn off of that, finding a flat spot for the tent, a view, a hill to climb. And then there will be silence, stars, and a slightly new perspective on how awesome it is to be alive and outside.