Exploring the divide: Inside Outside

I always figured folks viewed the wilderness like I did:

IMG_9718A place to cherish and protect.

A place for quiet observation and reflection.

A place where humans could be brought to their knees by the elements or by simple wonder.

As I get older and as our population swells, I find myself craving wilderness more than any other “thing.” More than dinners out, more than bookstore browsing, more than coffee, chocolate, or beer.

I have to get out there, else my sense of being and sense of normalcy start to fray.

Credit goes to my parents and kids for instilling and perpetuating this outsider habit. Growing up, I thought it was normal. But lately, it’s becoming clear that our family is an exception to the rule in the greater American society. Fewer and fewer people want to get out. And when they do, it’s not necessarily for peace and quiet.

I talked with Ester Rivera Murdock of the National Park Service. She’s studied the connection (or lack thereof) between Arizona communities and their magnificent parks.

I visited with John Gookin, an award-winning wilderness educator for the National Outdoor Leadership School. He said fewer baland fewer students come to NOLS with previous backcountry experience.

I see trends: paved “hiking trails,” ranchers swapping horses for ATVs, a Jeep-filled, dusty, and air-conditioned Moab.

At the Outdoor Retailer, later this summer, the Outdoor Foundation is hosting a huge Outsiders Ball. It’s a party with a purpose, “the one night our industry comes together around one common cause: to tackle the growing divide between young people and nature.”

Are us Outsiders increasingly outside the norm?

Beginning today, UtahOutsider will consider and wrangle with the issues surrounding the growing disconnect between society and wilderness. Look for Inside Outside columns and the accompanying image (below). Stay tuned!

ins outside