A summer in Colorado certainly meant one important thing to me: the opportunity to re-connect with nature and explore the great Rocky Mountains. And did I ever? To relax and build up new energy and strength (so that I can continue the fight against human trafficking), I spend time in nature at any opportunity; whether it is hiking, climbing, or camping, just a day in the mountains recharges me immensely. As I often tell my friends, and they subsequently make fun of me for that, the smell of the mountains is the smell of life as far as I am concerned.
While enjoying the cool, fresh air and the majestic views on several recent hiking and climbing trips, however, I noticed an annoying trend. The current theme of let’s get back to nature apparently means let’s pave roads so everyone can drive to nature and be able to text their friends about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for more people to explore nature and learn to respect it. I don’t think, however, that paving a road to the top of a 14-er so thousands of people can drive up there is really letting these people experience nature, or really good for nature for that matter. Not to mention that many of those now able to drive up to such a great area don’t even take the time to truly take it in and reflect on the experience; instead, they are too busy texting or twittering. When I see a young person standing at one of the most beautiful views in the world and looking down at his or her phone, I almost have the urge to shake them and say, “Look up!” Further, a lot of these nascent nature-lovers bring with them items that they somehow forget to take on the way back home (read: they throw their cans and bottles and snack wrappers on the ground) and that just drives me nuts.
Personally, I believe that the best part of spending time in the mountains is actually making the effort and taking the hours to hike up the 14-er; as someone much wiser than me has already stated, the journey is far more valuable than the destination itself. If you did not break a sweat to get to the scenic view, can you really grasp the value of nature and truly enjoy it?