In many cultures, storytelling is an art form. A good story is something that has a deep impact on your psyche and becomes something that is retold for years to come. These stories often convey anecdotes rooted in humor, life lessons, and/or express a passion for someone or something. Some people feel that this art form has suffered a slow death due to modern advances in technology. While others feel that these same technological advancements enhance the ability to tell a story.
Personally, I feel that there is a happy medium that can be reached to achieve the same end result — telling a meaningful story. I have always valued the power of words and have recently been inspired by the power of media to express appreciation for the outdoors. There are a number of different storytelling formats (both pictures and videos) that have permeated the internet recently. Outdoor enthusiasts can now log in and access a multitude of information about their favorite outdoor activity. It never fails that the most powerful versions of these ‘stories’ come in the form of an internet video accompanied by a passionate synopsis of the documented adventure. These stories end up providing inspiration to many people and become common talking points among friends at the trailhead (or base camp, at the whitewater put-in, the top of a long hike, etc.). These stories often provide people with the drive to go out into the great outdoors and create their own stories.
My buddy Ryan and I recently took up the challenge of telling a story that has occurred in our lives countless of times. Ryan and I have been meeting up to ride in the James River Park since we were youngsters. Back then our bikes were antiquated and we got abused by the terrain, before sustainable trail building was the norm and trail advocacy was commonplace. The story is simple and one that occurs with many of you on a regular basis…meeting up with a buddy (or group) to enjoy a ride or enjoy the park in your own way.
We set out to try and tell this simple story of meeting up to enjoy the outdoors. Ryan and I took a basic DSLR camera and a cheap tripod out to do some filming one Saturday to try and give people a taste of the great trails we have in Richmond. The shoot turned into an adventure in and of itself. After two hours, we realized we had only covered approximately one mile of trail. After some lunch and a beer at Crossroads coffee shop, we refocused on telling our story and came up with some pretty good shots. We got tired running up and down sections of trail to re-shoot, laughed at each other trying to operate the equipment, and generally enjoyed playing in the James River Park for the entire day. It brought back memories of childhood when you left the house early and didn’t get home until after the sun went down. We enjoyed spending the entire day outside. It was fun! And our story wouldn’t have been possible without the beauty of our own James River Park!
Stories like these aren’t always appreciated. Some people feel that nothing can replace the written/spoken word while others feel that this type of media enhances the ability of the listener or viewer to actually see what was experienced. Furthermore, many traditionalists feel that this overexposure of recreation places has a negative impact on the area showcased. In these cases, the more people that read about or see videos of a popular recreation spot the more people use it, further eroding the landscape as well as the mystique behind experiencing it in solitude.
Regardless of your position, the focus should always remain on enjoying the experience in your own way. It becomes less important that you document it or re-tell the joys of your experience and more about your experience and how it shapes your passion for the outdoors!
Click below to find the story we told the other day