By Maresa Jenson
What should we do this weekend? My friends have a varied set of recreational interests, and are addicted to being outdoors. Perhaps hiking, biking, climbing, pack rafting, skiing, berry picking, or fishing? The discussion of Alaskan weekend plans was unpresumptuous, and always exciting.
This weekend what we were doing was something I had never considered, a fat bike trip on the beach. My friend Diana had biked the route before, and Kasilof to Homer was perfect for the long Fourth of July weekend. It was my first fat bike experience. Previously I had only quizzically watched intrepid winter riders precariously commuting, their large studded tires clinging to icy roadways.
The intermittent rain this weekend provided cool conditions. We spent three days laughing—riding over loose and firm sand, navigating rocks, fording streams, considering the tides, and asking “will this work?” before taking off over two-foot-high seaweed, crackling under the bike tires. We went over and under obstacles, fishing net lines were set up continuously along the coast. There were beach bonfires, waterfalls, and bald eagles overhead. Clouds hovered, clinging to the volcanos across the Cook Inlet.
This was only a single weekend, one experience, a moment in time. Yet, whenever I interact with nature in a different way, I am reminded of the importance of public lands, and continue to develop my sense of place. It’s moments of snacking on cheese and crackers, truly taking the time to get to know yourself and others, appreciating scenery, and amazing places. Public lands allow us to have wild places, experience and preserve our country’s amazing landscapes, go camping, ski deep powder, and even bike on the beach. While law school does not lend itself to leading a balanced life, I remember why I am here. I believe in the importance of public lands. We need these wild places, not only for the health of our planet, but to ground our humanity.