Four years ago, one of the largest outdoor retailers in the US did something unthinkable. They not only closed on the biggest sales day of the year — Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving — but they paid their employees to not come to work. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive for a retailer to eschew the spending splurge that follows the turkey and gravy binge of late November, but it surely got people’s attention. Recreational Equipment, Incorporated — also known as REI — began Opt Outside Friday. Since then, the Opt Outside movement has grown in size and scope to become a major outreach program for REI.
Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, in their own small way — if any adventure in the great outdoors can be small — participate in the #optoutside movement this year by leading a hike up Star Peak Trail #999. “It’s not a ‘destination’ kind of hike,” said FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton. “It’s just a good excuse to get outside and enjoy a day with friends in a beautiful place instead of fighting for a parking space.”
The Trail #999 Opt Outside hike is just one of hundreds of events across the country inspired by this slogan from the REI site: “Every day is better when you #optoutside.” A visit to rei.com/opt-outside gives lots of advice on when, where, how and why to get some fresh air and exercise rather than following the crowds to the malls. In fact, the page includes a button (“Parks and Trails Near You”) that will provide local suggestions no matter where “local” is
“Most of us spend way too much time inside hooked to our electronics,” said FSPW executive director Phil Hough. “Opt Outside is a good reminder to get outside, not just on Black Friday, but as often as we can.”
To celebrate the Opt Outside Movement, and in the interest of getting folks away from the desk, the couch, the television and the computer — and even their phones — the FSPW hike program offers volunteer-led hikes year around. These ventures are for all sorts of ability levels, from Easy to Very Strenuous, and all ages as well.
“Get outside,” Compton says. “No matter how far you go, or how hard or easy the hiking is, you are going to feel better.”
To learn more, to sign up to opt outside on one of the FSPW hikes — or to suggest a hike you would like to lead in the Scotchman Peaks — visit www.scotchmanpeaks.org/hiking