These past months, I’ve seen something unusual: crowds in the canyons. The pandemic has forced people out of gyms and into our mountains and parks. It’s made our wild spaces more multiracial; I now get stopped regularly by Latinx and Pacific Islander families asking about the nearest trailhead. Children cluster on trails to exclaim over a tarantula or a coyote whisking into the brush. An influx of red squirrels has swelled the raptor population in Salt Lake, and now strangers collect at sunset to bird watch. We think of nature as escape, but now it’s a safe place to be together. Our mountains have become a respite from our solitude, and for that, I am grateful.
— Paisley Rekdal, poet laureate of Utah