29 March 2010

Motivation > Intent

So here's a question for you: Does the end justify the means?

As I was standing near the highest point of Laurel Mountain yesterday, hail coming down around me for the fourth time and thunder claps going off seemingly right next to me, this question came into my head.

And not in a conventional sense, mind you, but in terms of motivation. See, I was up on Laurel, hiking my way toward Pilot Rock, in a driving rain/sleet/hail storm, helping to clear the trail for future mountain bike endeavors. This was the third weekend in a row I was up there, in all sorts of conditions, each time making a bit more progress toward an open trail.

And there's the rub: As much as I want this trail open for all users, I really REALLY want to ride it myself. It was the first loop recommended to me when I arrived here, and because of the nasty weather that started that same week, I've not yet had the opportunity. It's one of the "Classic" Pisgah rides, a real scorcher, and the little bit I've sampled has me wanting more. It's my home trail: I can be on it in less than 20 minutes!

But all this begs the question: Is there something wrong with undertaking activities which in the end mostly benefit others, if your primary motivation is really selfish? Does the end result -- an open, flowing Laurel Mountain-Pilot Rock loop -- justify my true intent, that I want to ride it? Does it matter?

Anyway, that's what was going through my head, especially as my food ran out and I was committed ... but also in just a bit over my head. It was a fun, exhilarating chance to hike an epic loop in tough conditions, and I'm happy to report that from the Yellow Gap side, Laurel Mountain is in great shape all the way to Good Enough Gap!

Checklist update: Last week was pretty cool, as I was able to check off Kitsuma (Thursday with Nolan and Stephen), Mullinax-Squirrel Gap (as far as Cantrell Creek) on Friday, and DuPont on Saturday. All were super-fun rides, but when my coworker told me I should "prepare for the most fun EVER" at the top of Ridgeline in DuPont, I was a bit incredulous. Six and a half flowing, flying, screaming minutes later, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face ... and I went and did it two more times. Imagine the best of 9 Mile, but with real climbs, and you begin to appreciate DuPont. Why didn't I move here sooner?

We saw one Wisco group at DuPont, and I'm looking forward to a couple of rides with another group this week. Did someone say we'll be in the 80s by the weekend?! Bring it!


Ken said...

If you ask me, it doesn't matter much what your primary motivation is. I do open source software partly because I want to give back to the community, partly to scratch my own itch, and partly because it translates to useful experience in my professional life. Just because it's useful to me personally doesn't mean it isn't also a philanthropic and worthwhile endeavor. I don't think the result is any different whether it's maintaining mountain bike trails, writing open source software, or volunteering in your community. In the end, you're making your little part of the world a better place, and that's what counts.

Chris said...

Ken, funny you should mention that, because teaching kids is noble, but I'm doing this so I don't get run over when they're driving!