For quite a while now I’ve wanted to visit Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta Canada. It’s hard not to want to go to either of these places once you’ve seen the pristine aqua lakes on social media with no one around. Now that I’m here, I hate it. I’ve barely taken any photos and I want nothing to do with these parks. I just want to drive away as fast as possible; and that’s exactly what I did.
Truth be told, I knew it was going to be a junk show at the waterfalls and lakes I wanted to see. I’m willing to put money on it that everyone else there knew they wouldn’t be alone either. So why is it that even if we know a place is going to be overrun by fellow tourists we still go to these picturesque places? And I’m not just talking about Banff and Jasper National Parks. I’m talking about Horseshoe Bend, The Wave, Yosemite National Park, and too many other places to name.
How does the image that’s attached to this post make you feel? I hope it brings you calmness, maybe a little wanderlust, a sense of being there alone, and some need to explore all mixed in. If this photo made you feel any of those things “Perfect!” that’s exactly what I was going for when I took the photo.
What you’re not seeing or feeling from the photo is the family standing right next to me. The kids are being loud and obnoxious, yelling things back and forth to each other in a language I don’t understand while the parents are taking photos of each other to once again prove they were there. This photo, among so many others, has told you a lie. I wasn’t alone, it wasn’t quiet, calm, peaceful or any of those things you may have felt by looking at this photo. And that’s because I went to a place that was easily accessible. Behind me is a parking lot filled with cars and I took the stairs the park service built down to this spot.
When asked for the hundredth time why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, an annoyed Sir Edmund Hillary responded with “Because it’s f*@3!ng there!” We’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to have a reason to go out and experience nature, explore. It has to be to land a shot, get a story for a blog or news site, get in a work out, find some treasure, et cetera. But it’s never to explore because it’s f*@3!ng there.
When’s the last time you went on a hike that wasn’t listed as one of the most beautiful places in your area? Or took a different route on your drive home. Or surfed a new break? Or climbed a new route because it looked fun? Exploring isn’t all that hard, but we hardly fulfill our natural born instinct to explore. Instead we think there needs to be a reason or there has to be an accomplishment.
It’s been said that the right thing to do might not always be the popular thing to do and the easiest places to see might not always be the best places to see. With easily accessible sights, you’re going to find access issues in the form of crowded parking lots, trash all over, congested walking paths, selfie sticks getting the shot, and long lines to use the bathroom. There’s something to be said for going out to areas with less foot traffic. While you might want to get that feeling of calmness and being alone at that one beautiful lake you saw on the Internet, you won’t be alone. Everyone else has seen that same photo, wants to get that same photo, and wants to feel what that photo on the Internet made them feel but this time in real life.
Though the location may not be as iconic you’re going to get what you seek when you head out to explore more unknown areas. Crowds will virtually be nonexistent, it’ll be quiet, parking won’t be an issue, and there are plenty of trees to choose from when nature calls. Others might not understand why you’re not going to that picturesque place, but you’re just going to explore for you and it’s none of their damn business, and that’s all that matters.
There’s no real reason to explore, other than it’s fun. You should try it again sometime. Go explore – because it’s f*@3!ng there.