Many miles these feet have hiked. Many terrains they have traveled: the crusty salt flats of the Atacama Desert in Chile; the wind-ravaged capes and black sands of Iceland; the rocky spire of the crowning peak in the Colorado Rockies. I’ve chased experiences, climbed high peaks, and checked off countries from a bucket list. And I’ve grappled with the sudden oppressive reality that all this can be taken away in one moment. One tiny virus forcing us to face being exactly where we are.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down life as we knew it in 2020, it gave me cause to visit and revisit the nooks and crannies of local trails. It gave me the inspiration to share those nooks with others via the Off the Beaten Path hiking guide blog I launched. It was one way I could help others be with nature in lieu of being able to guide the group hikes I had been leading for The Rockfall Foundation and the Sierra Club before that. But I was still always going somewhere, fixated on the destination and accomplishment of a hike. I was restless, trying to run from the grief of a world turned upside down.
I saw that we all were experiencing pain in our own unique expressions. I saw that we were overly techno-stimulated, zoomed out, and disconnected from our roots–from our human family, from our personal best selves, and from the natural world that humans inhabited for many millennia before we withdrew to the isolation of our personal devices. I realized that we needed more than a quick-fix, band-aid approach like I was trying with hiking. The calling came to me: create a retreat space in the forest where people could connect to nature and themselves through mindfulness and movement.
This led me to shinrin yoku-–forest bathing, bringing the magic of mindfulness into the forest. That marrying of mindfulness with nature is the heart of my guided forest immersion retreats. I wish to share this practice with you so that you too may discover the great joy, ease, connection, and health and wellness benefits of experiencing nature with your body and heart senses wide open. No destination needed.
Certified Forest Therapy Guide by The Forest Therapy School
Wilderness First Aid Certified by SOLO
Sierra Club Certified Hike Outing Leader
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