I write about death in outdoor recreation in hopes that doing so will result in fewer deaths to write about.
It’s always tragic when someone dies in nature, even if they die doing something they loved. I wish they had lived longer and had a chance to experience more of that thing they cherished.
It breaks my heart that Colorado has seen so many outdoor recreation fatalities this year, from what was one of the deadliest ski seasons in history to a whitewater season that has already resulted in double-digit drownings.
The reason I’ve chosen to direct the OutThere Colorado team to cover many of these stories is so that these deaths won’t be in vain.
I hope that someone reads these stories, and it results in a second test of their safety line or someone checking the water flow levels prior to diving in, or even someone simply taking the time to consider the skill level they’re at and whether they might be headed in over their head.
As heartbreaking as these stories are, there are often lessons to be learned – ones that might save a life.
The reason I cover the risks associated with outdoor recreation is so those risks are harder to ignore.
It seems as if many marketing schemes and social media shots feign ignorance of these risks. In my opinion, this results in people pushing the potential danger to the back of their minds. Or in many cases, they’re simply unaware the danger lurks in the first place.
As more newcomers are attracted to outdoor recreation, communicating the risks is crucial. This effort is the responsibility of the entire outdoor recreation community, both those in media and those with boots in the dirt.
One misconception about covering death seems to be that the stories are meant to inspire fear or at least meant to strike the morbid curiosity that’s buried deep within most of us.
That’s not the case.
The reason I cover death is to inspire informed caution.
I cover death so that the next time you’re on the trail, you check the map an extra time. I cover death so that you remember to pack your helmet. I cover death so that you think twice about going so far outside of your comfort zone that you might not be able to come back.
I write about death in hopes that it might save a life.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published two years ago, in July of 2019. During this time, numerous water deaths were occurring around the state of Colorado – eventually 24 in total. The following year would be the deadliest year ever seen on Colorado's waters, leaving 34 dead.