My name is Dick Ogden. I am Aaron’s father. I grew up hiking and camping in the lush woods of the Midwest, particularly in Indiana. The seclusion was rejuvenating as I would wander along the creeks, searching for those isolated ‘gardens’ which, simply, touched my soul. Even though it was hard to leave a paradise I loved, I came to Utah to go to college. To my surprise, I found another garden. I discovered the majestic peaks of the Wasatch Mountains and the glowing sandstone of Southern Utah.
My first backpacking trip was in 1971 into an area called “the little Grand Canyon” located in the San Rafael Swell. I was awe-struck by the towering cliffs as we made our way down a canyon cut by the meandering San Rafael River. It was exciting to see mountain lion tracks along our path. I was hooked! From that time until now, 46 years later, I have frequented on foot and on bike the beautiful land we call Utah.
Over the last 10 to 12 years, however, I have spent most of my time roaming over the rocks of the Capital Reef area. In the beginning, it was rare to encounter other people on foot or in vehicles. Even though it was a national park, it was a well-kept secret. It was the kind of solitude which I enjoyed. More recently, however, I
have noticed a changing trend---more people.
In November, I took a friend who was born and raised, and currently lives, in Utah to the Capital Reef area which he had never seen. Even though he was awestruck by the view of the Waterpocket Fold from Strike Valley Overlook, we had encountered five other vehicles in an area that is generally desolate and off the beaten path. Not so, any longer. In the last several years, I have noticed the number of increasing tourists to the area and a partial end of my desired seclusion ‘on the trail.’ And with the increase in numbers comes the increase in regulations and oversight. It is understandable in order to keep our state ‘pristine,’ but more governance means restrictions, either self-imposed or governmentally imposed. They are already considering making the Escalante National Monument a national park. There are also discussions about limiting traffic into Arches National Park by reducing access to reservations only.
In a few more years, it may be difficult to access some of the country without encountering hordes of other people who want to take advantage of the scenic beauty of our state, people from within and without the United States. Tourism is good for the Utah economy, but it may limit access to places we love. My point is “get out and enjoy them now.” Hike, bike, camp, climb, rappel, even drive, whatever excites and motivates you. Make 2018 the year you explore and enjoy the beautiful country we call “home.”