Though Indiana’s landscape doesn’t conjure a nationally-recognized image of natural beauty there are plenty of opportunities to experience the great outdoors. Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, rock-climbing and fly-fishing are all available to any Hoosier hungry for the outdoors. Human powered activities like these build a vital relationship between the Earth and ourselves, without damaging our world ecologically. At the 4th Annual Quiet Sports Expo held from February 15 to 24 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds we can develop a better understanding of Indiana’s natural playground and acquire the skill sets needed to survive and thrive.
A guest speaker this year is canoeing legend Cliff Jacobson, author of over a dozen books on canoeing and the outdoors. Jacobson is a retired environmental science teacher who attended Broad Ripple High School and eventually both Indiana University and Purdue University. He became a member of canoeing clubs, especially in Brown County where he remembers fondly often traversing Sugar Creek.
“Some people view outdoor knowledge as the amount of time spent out in the woods,” Jacobson says.
But Jacobson realized early on that his hobbies required a deeper appreciation. He fell in love with canoeing at the age of 11, going on to become an Eagle Scout and taking an interest in competitive shooting. After guiding groups and taking his own canoe trips across the country he’s presenting all that he’s learned in person. Jacobson wants others to understand the outdoors the way that he does, so that they can enjoy wilderness sports even more.
“Most people buy things instead of developing skills,” he says. “There’s not a lot of people that understand that skills are more important than things.”
This year’s expo with feature a demonstration area for fly-fishing, a canoe and kayak challenge pond, and a rock wall, affording plenty of opportunities to see some of the skills required. Jacobson is one of many speakers at the event who will be giving presentations on various topics related to the outdoors, hiking, canoeing and survival. A portion of Jacobson’s presentation will focus on necessary skills for different wilderness activities and survival, specifically relating to the gear used. Adventurers these days often lack basic map and compass skills, while the bulk of designer gear isn’t fit for the outdoors. Along with showing an interest in a human-powered sport like those exhibited at the Quiet Sports Expo, one must be determined to develop into a competent outdoors person.
“People who take their sport seriously want to develop their skills and get better gear,” Jacobson says. “But if they place the emphasis on getting better first, the gear will follow.”
Indiana has plenty to offer wilderness adventurer, from the kettle lakes to the north, to the mountain biking hill terrain in the south. The Wabash River and Sugar Creek offer gorgeous trips by boat, while Lake Tippecanoe and Lake Wawasee are relaxing excursions. Make sure you’re prepared to appreciate the beauty of our state by coming the the Quiet Sports Expo.