I recently read an exceptional book by John Muir, father of our modern wanderlust and grand adventurer in a time where the great outdoors was truly an untamed place. His descriptions of a first look at the Sierras, of the sprawling views of Yosemite, and the way the woods filled his soul like nothing else could. While the wild is a bit more domesticated now with established trails, cell coverage, and guidebooks, it still holds in an important key to the overall sanity of humankind.
There's something incredible about the wide open spaces, the wind through the trees, and the feeling of the first few steps on a trail into the wild. I always find myself a bit more relaxed and a lot more alive by the time I step back into civilization. Why is that? How can a few hours or days surrounded by tall trees bring me back to center? I think you'll have to find that out for yourself, but here are a few of my favorite things about a solid chunk of time in the woods:
- I find something new every time. I grew up in the woods, a small town in Northern California surrounded by trees, mountains, and plenty of lakes. I spent afternoons, weekends, and plenty of nights exploring the trails and creeks but after years I still found something new every time. You can always expect it to surprise you, I've looked out on an amazing view of the coastal valley a hundred times and I always walk away with something different stashed away in the memory banks.
- It's all alive. I know it sounds a bit simple, but everything out there is alive. The trees, grass, water, even the rocks are growing, shifting, moving. The air is crisp because the trees are making it right there, the water is frigid because it was snow a few days (sometimes hours) ago. That constant growth and movement makes me feel small, and helps to put life back into perspective.
The noises are different. There is a simple rhythm of the woods. The flowing water, wind in the trees, birds; even the silence just seems to fit together out there. Getting away from the constant drum of daily life turns out to be an incredible way to get your own rhythm back on track.
- Adventure happens out there. No matter how much you plan, the woods tend to make things interesting. Maybe it's weather, a longer hike than anticipated, forgetting a key piece of gear, or just a bit of bad luck; no matter what there's always a challenge to overcome and an adventure to be had.
- It's a good kind of exhausted. I almost always stumble back to life from the woods with a bit of a wilderness hangover. My body is so beyond tired but my mind is alive. That's when I know it was a good trip.
With that in mind, I fully encourage you to take some time to get away for your own adventure in the woods. It's out there and open for you to explore, so start with a few mile hike and work your way up to gaining that summit-top view, you'll come back revived, and ready to take on the world.