I’ve been an avid hiker for a few years now. When I started, I had the very basics of equipment: running shoes, a backpack I pulled from the closet, water bottles, no poles, sweatpants, and a hoodie most likely. Becoming more accustomed to the sport, along with a few surprise snowstorms, has shown me the more technical side. Having the right equipment and preplanning is essential!
By the time I arrive, there usually are a few vehicles parked at the trailhead, and at some point, you pass other outdoor enthusiasts. Since the onset of Covid, I’ve noticed the hiking community has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s no wonder because it takes you away from sitting on the couch and transports you into the most beautiful scenery, breathing the clean, fresh air. You’d think more people would equal more refuse on the ground. Thankfully, I’ve observed no additional garbage at all! People are demonstrating a commitment to keeping our environment clean. Responsible hikers know that what you pack in, you pack out. You don’t litter, you pick up your garbage and carry it on board when you go. You leave no trace.
On one particular hike, the trailhead was only a few meters away from a set of little cabins for rent. In the center of the complex was a restaurant and attached brewpub with a glorious patio. I had just completed a six-hour trek up a scree-covered slope near the summit. Resting my tired legs on the relaxing patio with my cold craft brew I notice an array of solar panels expertly arranged on the roof of the brewery. Easy to notice because they were shining in the sun.
I got to talking with the server about the panels and asking a few questions because I don’t recall ever seeing a restaurant roof covered in shiny black rectangles, except maybe in Arizona. Apparently, their energy consumption was enormous, so they thought it was a good idea to install solar panels to meet their ever-increasing demands for electricity at the brewery. He mentioned that they wanted to set a good example for those visiting the park and walking nearby trails. And of course, it was a sound investment. They were demonstrating that they were eco-friendly and environmentally responsible while powering their brewery with sunshine. No emissions. No pollution. Just the awesome power of nature. Surrounded by mountains and parks, the optics were obvious.
This got me thinking that if I’m going to enjoy recreation time in nature, I should probably do my part to conserve nature. I shop with reusable bags, recycle, keep the furnace turned down, and a few other things that are considered environmentally responsible. But is that enough? If solar panels can power a restaurant and brewery and pay for themselves by providing free and clean energy for a business, it can certainly work for my home. I think I should be getting a quote to see what is possible.
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