Happy anniversary Outspire! As I go through my end-of-year office work, let me take a few minutes to indulge in a trip in the Way-Back Machine. Outspire was born ten years ago from the idea that getting outdoors was fun, and good for both body and soul. And it still is!
Ten years ago, the Dale Ball Trails In Santa Fe were new, and individuals hiked or biked but the only organized hiking groups around that I remember were the Sierra Club and the Los Alamos Mountaineers. Scheduled outings were set a month in advance so they could be printed in the club newsletters. Visitors to Santa Fe could get a map or copy of the Sierra Club hiking book of local Santa Fe National Forest trails and self-guide, or sign up for a van tour/hike at local monuments.
In those early years, Outspire offered overnight camping, group fitness hikes, and Saturday nature hikes for kids as well as our more familiar private, custom hikes and snowshoe outings. We experimented with what was welcomed by the community and our visitors. There were lots of newspaper and magazine articles because what we were doing was a little different: we served beginners as well as more experienced hikers, and we could offer individual experiences.
In ten years, some things around town have changed. The City of Santa Fe has recognized the value of its outdoors and supports its trail system with free maps, hiking classes through city recreation centers, and promotion to visitors. The blossoming of the internet has allowed nearly real-time scheduling of locals’ group hikes by meetup.com or neighborhood circles. Groups like Fat Tire Society (mountain biking), and the Trails Alliance have been established. The local REI store offers outdoor classes for beginners over a dizzying span of topics.
And all this is good! We still believe that getting outdoors is important for a variety of reasons, some physical and some spiritual. It does people great good to get away from our busy, often digital lives and reconnect with the rhythms of the natural world.
But we also believe that our New Mexico outdoors is not merely a human playground–it has intrinsic value as wild land. We seek to honor that through volunteer work, supporting conservation efforts, promoting “leave-no-trace” practices, spreading our minimal impact over multiple areas we are permitted to guide, and sharing what we know about natural history with our guests. It even means NOT guiding guests into fragile areas that could be damaged by too much visitation.
Although many things may have changed in ten years, we’re still delighted to be able to show visitors our beautiful New Mexico. Thank you to everyone who has supported us. We look forward to hosting guests for the next ten!