First impressions aren’t always the most important. I remember that when I first heard about climate change, I didn’t really pay it much attention. Why should I care that the world is warming one degree? If anything, I’d like to have a warmer summer, right? Little did I know the severe impacts one single degree can have on our world, and how much worse it can (and probably will) get. However, after many years of hearing conversations between my parents and their friends, I slowly came to realize how big of a threat it really was. My parents have always taught me ways to be environmentally friendly, from biking wherever possible to keeping a compost pile in the backyard. We’re even installing some solar panels for sustainable earth-friendly energy!
While I have less time than I did as a kid, I still love going on hikes in Shingletown Gap with my parents and our dog. Being surrounded by nature really clears my mind and helps me to relax for a couple of hours. Maybe it’s the beautiful colors or the soft trickle of water over rocks or the rustle of the leaves in the wind or maybe it’s just a natural human instinct to love being around nature. Regardless, each one of these hikes hammers in further the need to protect the oases of sanctity that forests provide.
I also enjoy skiing in the wintertime. In fact, ‘enjoy’ may be a slight understatement. I ski as much as I can during our increasingly short PA winter, and regularly press my parents to take me on ski trips to Seven Springs or other mountains with more than Tussey’s measly 500 foot vertical drop. I’m what you would consider a park rat, although I do enjoy glade skiing as well. For the less educated in ski lingo, a park rat is someone who spends their time predominantly in the terrain park, a designated trail that has an assorted array of jumps, rails and other freestyle features. Glade skiing refers to traversing through a wooded section of the mountain, weaving between the trees as the rider makes their way down the slope. Both of these require a fair amount of skill and concentration, and both give me a huge adrenaline boost. Nothing I’ve done in my life compares to spinning off a jump or dipping and dodging through dense foliage.
But glade skiing needs natural snow, and scientists tell us that we’ll be getting less and less of it here in PA. So at a young age, I wanted to do my part to help curb climate change. Not sure of what I could do, I started giving part of my allowance each year to the World Wildlife Foundation. While it wasn’t much, it felt good to give towards a cause I knew was just, since I didn’t know how to help the world in any other way. I still give to WWF every year, just trying to do my part for the environment.
Taking this bike trip is another way to do my part, though my intentions aren’t entirely pure. While I do feel strongly about saving the environment, I also get my 20 hours of community service that I will need if I want to graduate next year. It’ll also be nice to put on a resume, and as a general bragging right over my friends. (Aaaand I also may have made a promise that if Molly Hunter did it last year that I’d do it this year, but I’d like to think that I would do it even without the aspect of moral obligation on top.)
Overall, I’m really excited for this trip, I’ve been wanting to get into biking for a while, as well as getting to go to Capitol Hill and meeting some of the people that help run our country. I hope that this trip will help to shed some light onto the very real problem that is our ever-worsening climate.
Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2015 to PA IPL 2100-C East College Ave., State College, PA 16801)
MANY THANKS to our 2015 silver sponsors Sun Directed and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor,
and bronze sponsors Freeze Thaw Cycles and the Rock Ethics Institute for their support!
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