It’s getting harder to find space in the wilds

The family and I went fishing over the weekend, but we’d have better luck finding some peace and quiet in town – it seemed like everyone from town was out where we were fishing.

One of the benefits – or drawbacks – of the pandemic is that it has gotten people to spend more time in the great outdoors. Early on when everyone was trying to stay well away from other humans, more and more people ventured out to the hills. They could keep their distance from other people, and they found that there was an entire world out there away from civilization they had been missing for far too long.

That has led to more awareness of wild lands and wild creatures, and this in turn should help us protect the places we like to go to get away from it all. But it’s a trade-off. We need more people to stand up for that protection, but to get that, more people need to feel a connection to those areas. That means more people out there in those wild areas, which in turn can easily lead to those areas getting trampled, overrun and trashed.

The national parks have already instituted a reservation system to prevent overcrowding. You have to have a reservation to even drive through a national park now. Quite a few state parks have the same restrictions. It’s good that those limits are in place, but it makes it harder to go enjoy those areas when you want to – and the limits still allow for far more people in those parks than most of us are comfortable with.

And the people who can’t get into the national parks are going to the forests instead. That was the case in the Medicine Bow forest this weekend. We couldn’t even find a place to park so we could get out and fish.

Here’s a little tip, though. If you hike a few miles into the backcountry, you’ll still find yourself completely alone. The crowds haven’t gotten that ambitious yet.

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