This began two days ago as a hopefully un-trite post about how parks, mainly national, should not be closed during the current Coronavirus crisis. I wanted to point out how both explicible and sad it was that Yellowstone closed Tuesday. How parks, however grand, are generally in someones backyard. Moab had an entirely reasonable request last week when they asked the Governor of Utah to shut down tourism, and how current Moab locals also have an entirely reasonable ability to be out in their greater yard.
For my part, I left home in the dark this morning and skinned a few laps of our local ski hill. The surface, ungroomed for almost two weeks how, hadn’t frozen solid yesterday evening, and was covered in two inches of light fresh. The turns were exceptional, the sunrise and brisk wind enliving as for me only the touch of the wild can be. I arrived home and continued the arduously ambiguous task of moving all the bargains and history and tenuous emotional bridging I’ve built in my office to the virtual world, and did so with a lightness, having reaffirmed that the world was only so writhingly mutable on a human scale. Our president excepted, there shouldn’t be too many people on the planet with many illusions left about what it will take to manage this crisis. Where the illusions remain seems to be in how long life may be altered. And for that reason I think wild parks should, in the vast majority of cases, remain open.
I was not the only one at the hill at dawn. A few folks had carpooled up, hiked (rather than skinned) the hill, and on their way down ducked into the terrain park for a few jumps, two things the hill had after the mandated closure asked people to not do. There has reportedly been a drastic uptick in avalanches in the Colorado backcountry in the past few weeks. Earlier this week, on a bike ride around town, I had to explain to Little Bear why we could not go play on the equipment which was in the spring sun swarming with other kids. And this is why, apparently, we can’t have all the parks open during our duress.
This afternoon I was doing what so many have done recently, having a Zoom meeting with my colleagues, discussing how to keep translating our job into a new medium, when word came down that Montana was joining much of the rest of the world, with a shelter in place order. Nothing stressed me more, until an hour later I tracked down the document itself, and read the clear exception for wide varieties of outdoor activities. During that search, Little Bear looked over my shoulder, saw the above photo (from our hike this past weekend) and asked when we could go again.
My desire, and its urgency, is in this matter quite trite and thoroughly myopic. But if this is trite, then almost anything is. Living after all is made possible by being alive, but does not consistent of it. Over the weeks to come we’re all going to become more intimate with this.