The “app-cessibility” of our cities undoubtedly has its benefits: you don’t have to be a local to know which bars serve the best aperitivo, or that the best time to go to the club is actually Sunday morning. But it also leaves one with a longing for adventure, spontaneity, and unpredictable variables. We’ll need to venture away from our cities and towards nature for that—because it’s not exploring if you already know where you’re headed.
Heading into nature isn’t so much a retreat or a return to a more primitive time, it’s surrendering to the forces that are already at work around us. And it’s a sentiment that has never been easier to embrace than now. The older, Jack London-influenced interpretation of the wild pits man against nature, fighting to stay alive in the elements. Nature used to inspire wonder, but also fear. Jack London also didn’t have a down jacket and a camper van, so the experience has changed a bit. Combined with the current wave of environmental activism, we’re working towards an understanding of mankind as a part of—rather than apart from—nature. Seeking solitude in the cozy warmth of a cabin, solace under the stars, or the thrill of the road, we‘re coming to terms with our place in the natural order.
That said, we’ve already seen how a resurgence of interest in the beauty of nature has affected some of our most pristine areas. Horseshoe Bend, an idyllic lookout over a 1000-foot-deep canyon in Colorado, USA, has been visited by Instagrammers clamoring for likes so often that the National Park Service had to close the area to create new accommodations for visitors. In the age of social media, the vapid will find a way to ruin just about anything good. But developing a deep respect for nature can come with rewards that can’t be measured in likes.