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Spring Fever

As a kid, flying was easy. Every so often I would simply go to sleep and dreams of lifting off the sidewalk up and over the fence and lilac bushes of my childhood home would take over. I can still remember the strange sensation of every cell in my body pushing back against gravity until my legs were weightless, pulling slowly away from the ground. Ever since then, lurking in the back of my consciousness, an urge to fly has waited for the right moment in time to spark action. Off and on over the years I have considered going sky diving or doing a tandem base jump off Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho, to see if fear or elation would take over, but about as close as I’ve come was reading Steph Davis’s book “Learning to Fly” and watching too many YouTube wingsuit videos. I’ve also looked into taking paragliding lessons, but fear of the unknown has kept me perpetually grounded.

This past month at the Spokane Great Outdoors & Bike Expo, a new spring fever-inspired event that Out There Monthly put on, the floors of the Convention Center were packed with people who were itching for the warmer weather hiking, biking, camping and paddling season. One of the highlights for me was spending some time with a few members of Center of Lift, the local hang gliding and paragliding club, who were there to run their booth and set up a display of hang gliders from the convention hall ceiling. While helping rig and unrig the gliders, I had the chance to ask questions about flying that had quietly freaked me out enough over the years that I’ve never taken the leap into the sport. I learned that getting into paragliding is relatively accessible and affordable and that many of the irrational fears that had always haunted me—like being smashed out of the sky by a rogue gust of wind or blasted off into space by uncontrollable thermals—were just that: irrational fears. Under the grip of spring fever, where the spell of the possibilities of a whole new year of outdoor adventure potential made anything seem possible, learning to fly seemed finally within reach.

Maybe it’s the intense burst of life that happens all around us in nature when the cold and snow gives way to sunnier days. There is something about spring that inspires big dreams, motivates new adventures, and provokes positive life changes if we harness that groundswell of inspiration before it inevitably fades. The urge to get moving outside after a long, dark winter can burn like a fever, and it’s best to tap that fleeting gumption while it lasts. What big plans do you hope to hatch this spring?  //

About Derrick Knowles

Derrick is the editor and co-publisher of Out There Monthly. He has spent more than 30 years exploring the Inland Northwest’s trails, mountains, lakes and rivers.