Good day, team.
This week’s challenge is about exploring new places in nature. Saturday, my husband and I went for a long walk in an unfamiliar area of the Columbia River Gorge. It’s a place where a back road not far from our ranch meets Major Creek. We wondered about that name because the creek looked more like a stream when we got out of the car. A gravel road went directly up the hillside alongside the creek, so we headed up the road to explore the area.
When we started out, all we could see was the road at our feet, the creek to our left and woods all around us. We had no idea where the road would lead us. I thought, “Isn’t this always how it is when we embark on a new journey to a place we’ve never been?” We experience excitement, hope, and some fear. The spirit of exploration is all about discovering new things and the joy that comes from that experience.
We came to the top of the first hill where the road leveled out. From here, we could look down on the creek, which was increasing in size. Now we began to understand why it was named “Major Creek.” We saw large rock formations and hills with many varieties of tall pines and oak trees. I sensed that this land was very old. The rock formations were covered in what I call “old moss,” which is the kind that’s been there so long it’s actually taken on the color of the rocks. We saw dramatic crags and stalactite-looking formations. We even saw a rock cave in the side of the hill and wondered what kind of animal or serpent might live there.
Each time we ascended another hill or rounded a bend, the road would stretch out inviting us to continue with our exploration. With every step, we saw something new. The creek broadened and became a rushing cascade of water. We saw a red rock on the road that looked like it had a face etched into it. I noticed that my state of mind began to change. I felt lighter — not just on my feet but in my heart. The experience of being in nature, exploring a new place on a beautiful day with my husband, made me feel more connected with the world around me. I felt like I could breathe more freely and that the world had so much abundance, so much to offer.
This week, try exploring new places in nature. Perhaps you can take a different route while riding your bike to work or go for a different walk around town. Maybe you can visit a park you’ve not been to before. How about taking your kids to the beach or on a hike? Even in winter, natural spaces have their own special beauty. No matter where you live, you can experience the outdoors, whether it’s the local park or a nearby ski area.
See how you feel after you spend some time in nature. John Muir wrote, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
And Standing Bear said, “Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”
Have a good week!
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