I live in Los Angeles, where nature is hard to come by. Yes, there’s a large park nearby where I spend a lot of time sitting on the soccer game sidelines. And our quiet street has a lot of trees, which my dog and I examine on our daily walks. But the real wilderness—the kind where you don’t hear cars and could actually get lost? That’s not something I experience every day.
And I miss it. I grew up going to national parks—hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winters. I backpacked for seven days in the Sequoias when I was six years old. I wore my Yosemite “go climb a rock” t-shirt to rags. Sadly, today my family spends more time at the beach than we do in the mountains. But that’s all about to change. First, because I recently remembered the importance of wilderness in our lives. And second, because we have to experience it firsthand to know how important it is to ban National Park fracking.
My new goals: Spend more time in nature. Go climb more rocks. And do everything I can to ban National Park fracking. After sporadic glamping and camping experiences, I’ve rediscovered the nature retreats where I used to visit as a child. Run by the National Parks Service, some of these lodges and cabins now feature Family Camps, where you pay a flat per person fee for lodging and food, and get access to activities.
We recently spent two nights at one of these nature retreats in Sequoia National Park. We went sledding, my eight-year-old learned to cross-country ski, and the older kids spent a morning playing paintball in the forest. We ate our meals at tables with other families—there was even a talent show where a toddler attempted to recite her ABCs.
And the whole thing cost about what I would have spent on three days of meals out. I have two teenagers, remember?
But the best part was a snowy hike that my husband and I took up to the top of the mountain overlooking the valley. Majestic doesn’t even begin to describe it. The pristine wilderness stretched out in front of me like some magical unexplored country—just like it has for thousands of years.
I felt like I was on top of the world. Anything was possible.
But when I returned home, I did a little research and found that the oil and gas industry has our National Parks in their targets. They’re already fracking in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, as well as lands adjacent to National Parks like Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of a toxic mixture of chemicals, water and sand into the earth in order to create enough pressure to cracks open rocks and release oil or natural gas; these chemicals can leach into the water table.
So here’s my new goal for the year: Spend more time in nature. Go climb more rocks. I’ve already booked our reservation to go back. And do everything I can to ban National Park fracking—starting by supporting a petition that you can sign, here.
How about you? Have you been to a nature retreat? What’s your favorite rock to climb? Are you concerned aboutNational Park fracking? Please tell me about it, in comments below. Thank you!