In the fast-paced modern world we inhabit, we often find ourselves caught in a whirlwind of responsibilities, obligations, and the ever-present digital buzz. Amidst this chaos, how often do we pause, set a date, and embark on a solo adventure solely for ourselves? The practice of wandering, meandering, and immersing ourselves in nature, often referred to as forest bathing, offers an incredible opportunity for self-discovery, growth, and reconnection. Join me as I recount my recent solo journey into the woods – a personal healing quest that unearthed hidden emotions, bolstered my sense of ease, and left an indelible mark on my well-being.
As part of my ongoing forest bathing training, I undertook my first solo day-long escapade into the heart of nature, reminiscent of childhood explorations. My destination: a remote cave nestled atop a Sedona mountain. Emotions, both anticipated and unexpected, unfolded along the way, with fear casting a long shadow. Yet, armed with meticulous preparation and an unwavering resolve, I confronted these emotions head-on. The more I hiked, the more nature worked its magic, unraveling fear's grip and granting me a newfound comfort.
Fast forward to last weekend. I was ready for another solo journey to a place called Hiker's Hut located in Pescadero. Having frequented the Hiker’s Hut with my children over the years, I was familiar with the area's terrain—an advantage that eased my journey. Equipped with essentials—a hiking stick turned taser, essential supplies, and a camelback brimming with water—I set off, guided by forest bathing's principle of heightened awareness. Conscious of the land's nuances—mountain lions, poison oak, ticks—my backpack was laden with provisions to ensure safety.
Similar to my solitary sojourn in Sedona, the Santa Cruz Mountains swiftly welcomed me into their embrace. A sense of ease washed over me, restoring a connection with myself. The air, pure and invigorating, rekindled a long-lost sense of clarity. Importantly, my phone remained present but switched off—a conscious choice that evoked an empowering detachment.
At the hut, I meticulously arranged my personal sanctuary, adorned with art supplies and provisions. Stepping outside, I discovered a sit spot overlooking a sprawling expanse of forest and the distant ocean. Nature unveiled its awe-inspiring beauty, inspiring hours of introspective artistry in my nature journal. Amidst this creative flow, a lizard ventured onto the bench, weaving its own tale of curiosity and presence.
As evening descended, the mountains donned a shroud of fog, reminiscent of my childhood memories in the Santa Cruz mountains. The setting sun painted the sky with hues of oranges and reds, as I basked in the serene moment. Nightfall gifted me a celestial canvas—a clear, unpolluted sky. Amidst the increasing detachment from the night sky due to light pollution, I reveled in the quiet grandeur of the stars, a humbling perspective-resetting experience.
The Hikers Hut's wood-burning fireplace beckoned, providing warmth in the cooling night. While minimalist in my needs, the comfort of the fire yielded a peaceful slumber, unburdened by life's complexities.
Dawn broke, and I savored a cup of coffee before embarking on an exploration. Amongst oaks, a fox sought refuge, and a chorus of morning birds serenaded the new day. Walking barefoot established an intimate connection with the earth, underscoring the interconnectedness of all life.
Following my morning sojourn, I packed up, departing with a sense of enriched tranquility. A new trail led me through lush redwoods, each discovery prolonging my return. My journey culminated at Alices Restaurant, where a hearty breakfast refueled my body and soul. The effects of my solitary wandering reverberated through the week, infusing each day with a renewed sense of ease and authenticity.
As my story finds its end, I encourage you to mark your calendar for your own solo wander. Reflecting on my journey, I offer the following insights:
Preparation: Research the area, consult local experts, and equip yourself adequately. Knowledge empowers: Talk to local park rangers. REI in San Carlos is an amazing place to get resources and support.
Start Small: Begin with brief excursions to familiar places. Confidence builds with each step taken outside your comfort zone. Weekend Sherpa offers suggestions for adventure in nature. All Trails is also great for finding new places.
Reconnect with Nature: Immerse yourself in natural surroundings, disconnect from distractions, and embrace mindfulness. I suggest this book, which will be your forest bathing companion.
Creative Expression: Equip yourself with a journal and art supplies to capture your journey's essence, fostering creativity and introspection. Check out this amazing website which will be more than enough to help you start your own Nature journal.
Inspiration to Reconnect: Reflect on the transformative power of your solo wanderings to inspire future ventures and personal growth.
I extend an invitation to share your solo wandering stories, your insights, and your journey's impact. Let's continue this dialogue, as we explore the rich tapestry of self-discovery, nature's embrace, and the beauty of wandering. Check out my upcoming nature retreats and other offerings here.