For the past three or four years, I have attended all of the trail days celebrations of the three iconic long trails: the Appalachian, Continental Divide, and my favorite, the Pacific Coast Trail.
Each celebration brings together a community of people whose connection is walking along a trail in the deserts, prairies, or, my favorite, being surrounded by old-growth forests under a canopied tunnel of greenery.
This past winter, I hiked the deserts of southern Arizona, CA, and New Mexico in my attempts to embrace and appreciate the desert trails. However, the early morning sun’s relentless heat is unforgiving, coupled with every plant in the desert utilizing sharp, piercing thorns or burrs to protect itself from being eaten, mauled, and me.
I love capturing desert landscape images, but there is no place to sit along a desert trail to meditate, contemplate or reflect. Yet, not even the giant Saguaro cacti provide shade from the sun for longer than fifteen minutes.
But overall, walking, hiking, and backpacking along a trail have become spiritual, meditative moments of soulful reflection. A year ago, I saw a bumper sticker with the quote: “Nature is my Church.”
I stopped and contemplated what I read to realize whenever I was walking, hiking, or backpacking along any trail, with the sounds of nature’s songbirds chirping or tweeting, my footsteps crunching against the dirt or gravel surface. I’m experiencing pleasant moments of happiness, devoid of society’s stressful issues, a world away from everyone, everything, all-consuming that dampens my human spirit.
I have written little about my travels along most trails, as my times are very personal. But, several years ago I read the novel “The Nature Fix,” by Florence Williams. The novel details the effect of nature on the human mind and body.
I have read the novel a second and third time as the author quotes, explains, and reveals what I and many worldwide have been experiencing, how essential nature is for the human spirit, physically and mentally.
So, get out of your chair and into nature along any trail, to heal, your mind, body, spirit and soul because its free.
“We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic, and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.” ― Author of the Nature Fix, Florence Williams