Our rule of thumb this summer is to drive no more than a half-tank of gas for recreational travel. If we do not have to gas up or buy supplies along the way, we feel we are doing our part to recreate responsibly. Traveling outside of your local area, and then returning, is the most likely way to contribute to the spread of a virus, as is the case throughout history. And 2020 is no different.
Though this opinion at first glance seems not as popular due to the influence of social media, there is some admittedly anecdotal evidence that says otherwise. In our local area, search and rescue calls are roughly half the number for 2020 vs. this time last year, along with lower visitor numbers overall. And tellingly, REI announced lay-offs of over 400 of their staff.
Fewer people are traveling, buying outdoor gear, booking tours, etc. Part of it is pure economics as millions of people are out work, of course. But people are hunkering down overall.
It’s not enough, unfortunately. There is enough of a significant minority with both the inclination and economic and cultural capital resources, and numbers are skewing higher again as people travel for their vacations. But outdoors people tend to be from a more affluent background and, frankly, aren’t used to inconvenience in most of their lives.
Picking up trash and not making campfires during a fire ban? Easy.
Asking to perhaps explore locally for their vacation? To do something beyond some hashtags on their Instagram profile? No-can-do.
There’s no right answer as to the correct action, but I think too many people are polishing turds to justify what they want to do as opposed to what they need to do.
Some might argue that it is easy for me to say stay local for outdoor recreation. But it is a choice we made. I could be back in the Denver area, earning more than twice my salary…but not having the outdoor recreation so accessible in addition to a higher level of stress. All of life is a choice and balance. We chose something that works for us.
Which is a long preamble that we continue to alter our plans as it is, for us, the right thing to do at this time.
So we explore the local mountains that are small in the overall area but give us some needed space to recreate.
These mountains, due to the road network for most of the area, end up more conducive to camping and hiking rather than backpacking.
.We camp, hike, explore, and savor the local areas.
Ideally, we find places to camp where we don’t have to drive for at least a day. Some single track, jeep road walks, and easy cross-country walking allows us to put together a solid day of hiking, taking in the sites, and enjoying time outdoors.
We gaze where we spent the winter and spring, and think of where we’ll go again in the fall.
These local mountains may not give the red rock delights famous in the Colorado Plateau, but they continue to provide us with small and subtle pleasures. We are enjoying getting to know the nooks and crannies of our local gems. And for that opportunity, we are thankful.
And the very local sites aren’t bad either…