Keep close to nature’s heart, and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain, or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
– John Muir
Naturalist and conservationist, John Muir, may not have invented Forest Bathing, but he sure knew how critically important nature is to our lives. Known as the Father of Our National Park System, John Muir (1838-1914) fought to protect the natural and wild places he loved, resulting in many of the places we love today. In fact, it was his passion for conservation that led to the preservation of such amazing places as Yosemite National Forest, Sequoia National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and more.
Last week, I had the great fortune of spending several hours in John Muir Woods, his namesake, located just north of San Francisco. Arriving early to beat the crowds, my family and I ventured into the quiet forest of redwoods, taking in the crisp morning air. Although it was not my first time in Muir Woods, each visit reminds me just how important it is to connect and reconnect with nature….to take a few moments out of a tech-filled life and just be present.
Taking deliberate but quiet steps along the soft path of dried branches, I pondered how something so wild like the woods could appear so calm, perfect, even breathtaking. And….it was really, really quiet. With the exception of conversations with my own family, audible chatter was nearly nonexistent during most of the hike – a welcome change from the loud, fast-pasted, people-dense San Francisco where I had just had breakfast a few hours earlier.
For several hours we hiked up and down paths, choosing to go left at the fork when most would go right. We contemplated the need for walking sticks, good shoes, what was edible or not, and even how we might build a shelter if we accidentally found ourselves lost in the woods overnight.
And as we made our way to back to civilization and the darling gift shop, I had that familiar melancholy feeling…that my little piece of peace and quiet was now ending and that I would soon be back to work and back to reality.
But whenever I need a moment of calm, I let my mind wander back to Muir Woods – a place where you can lose yourself in nature and experience forest bathing at its best.
Thank you John.
Happy travels everyone!