What a marvelous world we live in currently for outdoor pursuits.
With a few keystrokes, I can easily find the information I need. And a few more keystrokes with the appropriate application of GoogleFu, even more information is found.
Map resources are online. I can purchase overview maps easily online and have them delivered to my door in a short bit. And many other personal web pages, government sites, and organization pages are online for more in-depth information.
Twenty years ago, I would need to buy a guidebook, go to the map store and purchase quads for the obscure areas, and hope I have a road atlas updated for the current conditions.
And outdoor gear is inexpensive overall (adjusting for inflation) versus when I first started backpacking nearly twenty-five years ago. And the resources to evaluate and discuss the equipment are widely available (Beware of online-only experts. But that’s a different post!)
Maybe we are living in a Golden Age of outdoors?
The areas are accessible for anyone wishing to do a little homework. And the restrictions on the sites are manageable.
My friend and I recently explored a remote Utah canyon with an $8 permit procured within minutes. The old kiva waited for us, and we entered it. No restrictions as we viewed and experienced something nearly 800-years in the past.
But what about the future years?
Will too much information make previously obscure places not-so-obscure? Will population and high use pressures put even more regulation on sites and make the areas less accessible? Will the places the NPS and BLM keep secret through obscurity be outright banned for access to the general public? Or maybe highly regulated hikes with a designated guide only as is becoming the norm in many areas?
I don’t know any definitive answers. I just know that the balance of available information, accessibility, and outdoor opportunities is quite good in 2018. Will we have this balance in the years ahead? Will we be left with roped off areas or even closed canyons and only memories of once waited for us “beyond that next turning of the canyon walls”? My gut feeling gives me an answer how and where we are headed, though.
Or maybe the Golden Age is yet to come.