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Tons of news pieces in the past week or so report about the National Park Service and other land managing organizations worried about a tidal wave of visitors this summer, as people emerge from a long Covid-induced hibernation to return to camping. Crowded campgrounds, online reservations, hefty booking fees—but what of the dirtbag? Remember them? Eating cold soup from a can, living in the car, not their Insta-ready van, but their actual car, to sleep closer to the crag or the fishing hole or the best singletrack, washing up wherever, counting coins under the seat for coffee and beer money. Real deal dirtbags.

We’re big fans of The Dirtbag Diaries podcast around here, and we’ve dipped back into their archives for road trip listening ourselves this summer. This episode, “The Modern Dirtbag,” is from a few years back, but the question, “whither the dirtbag” is still a worthy one. Listen as the host tours Camp 4 in Yosemite, looking for the bygone lifestyle of the ones who traded everything to live free and on the cheap.

Photo: Lucian Alexe

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