Take a Hike | Peter Saltamachio

Take a Hike

by Peter Saltamachio

Studies by the Council for research Excellence(CRE) and Ball State University have determined that the average American spends over eight hours a day on screens. Additionally, research conducted by the National Library of Medicine(NLM) has determined that Americans spend an average of between one and two hours per day outdoors, not including holidays. How did the situation get to this?

Our rampant consumerism has caused high demand for new, more advanced technology. We continue to buy, buy, buy. Does anyone remember when the iPhone was a new device, heavy in metal and light in usability? Of course, but we don’t think about that. All we think about is the terrible injustice of the headphone jack-less iPhone 7 and exploding Note 7 batteries. Nobody cares about the Old when New has come along and done Old’s job better than Old ever could.

The media has been very helpful in turning our attention to the screen as well. As far as I know, the media’s goal is to cause consumers to devote more time to it. And guess where you can’t reliably access the media? Outdoors! It’s no wonder we don’t see many big-name celebrities plugging trips to the lands of our recently 100-year-old National Park System. They get more money from things that people want to watch on TV. The media and celebrities would probably be happy if we spent outdoors half of the time we spend now.

The outdoors is a unique place, full of no TVs, jam-packed with no Instagram, and always comes with a heaping eyeful of non-Internet-video content. Best of all, the WiFi is always free(it doesn’t work like you think it does) and its data capacity is greater than that of the strongest lithium-ion battery that outsourced labor can produce.

The miracle of nature requires no Terms of Service or Network Password, but it does require a commitment:ditch your phone and just appreciate!

It’s not necessary to share your every experience with 200-plus friends, most of which you don’t actually know...you know, those ones you friended or allowed to follow you because you had a “Friend in Common” or [insert random electronic connection here]...yeah. That one.

Right here in San Diego, you can follow a wildly zigzagging trail down into a canyon toward an eighty-foot waterfall, and walk on uninterrupted beach from Swami’s in Encinitas to the mouth of the San Dieguito Lagoon at Del Mar, and past there to La Jolla Shores, about ten miles of beautiful sand and sea.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other outdoor adventures include hang gliding at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the countless animals of the San Diego Zoo, or disc golfing at the fantastic Morley Field course(on Pershing Drive in Balboa Park).

San Diegans have an abundance of all the fun natural resources: water, sun(not too much), sand, animals and our favorite: Money! Just kidding. Other than money, we seem reluctant to take advantage of these precious resources(Money isn’t precious. It’s only worth anything if everyone is in on the joke.)

If you’re like me, you might be getting ready to fly the coop, heading off to college next year with sand still lingering in the threads of your pockets and purses. Well, I’ve got some advice for you. You can relive the stress of your final push toward university with an excursion down the crazy gullies of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, or spend your afternoon swimming with leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores. If you leave for another state, city or country, make your last experiences here of things your phone can’t measure: fun, smiles, bliss, thrills. Because what you don’t want to pop into your mind when you think of home is something you saw on TV yesterday. If you even have one anymore.