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Andy Dappen | A great day to be outdoors: There are lots of benefits to participating in WenatcheeOutdoors Day

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20140318-054055-pic-5690748 Skiing is a great activity to pursue on WenatcheeOutdoors Day.

What’s the big deal about this Friday?

Is it because it’s the first full day of spring? Hardly.

Because it’s another TGIF? Meh.

Because the countdown leading to Easter has now started? Nooo.

The BIG significance is this: Friday will be the second annual celebration of WenatcheeOutdoors Day — that famously fabulous day when locals are encouraged to take a mental health day from work and ‘get the heck out(doors).’

Why get out? For starters, outdoor recreation is a powerful gateway to personal wellness. Get out regularly to hike, bike, paddle, climb or ski, and it is difficult NOT to whip the body in shape and shed stress in the bargain.

Furthermore the church of nature where outdoor recreation is practiced will incite wonder. It’s hard to spend time outdoors on a regular basis and not start pondering how this all came about. Different people derive different answers to the ‘how’ of it all, but starting this quest puts the rather mundane accomplishments of human technology into perspective. It makes our fascination with the coding locked up in a smartphone look ridiculous next to the microscopic codes locked up in molecules of DNA. It makes us aware of just how amazing the ordinary surroundings of North Central Washington are.

And these are just the personal fruits of outdoor activity. There are also huge community benefits.

If, as a community, we embraced outdoor recreation en masse, we would see community obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and more take a dive. We would see community mental health float.

We would see economic benefit rubbing off on businesses with a connection to the outdoors and we would see growth in jobs as new services developed to help the community make better (or safer) use of the outdoors.

And we would see the concern for conserving or caring for our natural lands increase.

That’s a lot of benefit to be derived from the outdoors.

So what should you do this year to help move yourself toward those benefits on WenatcheeOutdoors Day? What are some inspired ways for you to promote personal and community wellness? Spend the day:

Downhill skiing at Mission Ridge or Stevens Pass.

Nordic skiing at Echo Ridge of Stevens Pass Nordic.

Hiking a loop around the east and south sides of Saddle Rock.

Mountain biking the ponds and benches around Ancient Lakes.

Rock climbing the south-facing cliffs at Vantage.

Snowshoeing the roads or ridges in the Blewett Pass environs.

Cross-country skiing the Five Mile Road near Blewett Pass.

Paddling a stretch of the Columbia River (the stretch below Wanapum Dam is particularly interesting right now due to the lowered river level).

Complete written details and topographic maps for these ideas, as well as for a hundred other seasonally appropriate outdoor adventures, can be viewed and printed from the online guidebooks at

Enough words — time for action. Tell your boss there are higher reasons why it’s important for both of you to participate in Wenatchee Outdoors Day this year. Given that participation could change you and the community at large, Friday is a big day this year.

Read more about WenatcheeOutdoors Day on the Wenatchee Outdoors homepage at this post: