May 31, 2018

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I grew up away from city lights. My parents live on five acres out in the woods, with quiet neighbors and a big open field that invites the stars to look down on their land. It’s the perfect place for nature therapy as a child.

Sometimes when it got stormy out at night – but didn’t rain – I would quietly go outside and stand in the backyard, looking out across our huge field and humbled by the power of the storm.

In those moments, I felt close to God and nature.

Those were the times it felt easiest to pray.

I remember one summer when I stayed with my godparents in Wyoming, a storm swept in. The winds were strong, the thunder impressive, and best of all, it was night.

I stood on their deck after dark and watched. I listened. And I spoke.

Nature is incredibly powerful. Storms, winds, hurricanes, tornadoes, natural disasters – all of these are awe-inspiring and deserve respect.

For me, standing in the storms felt calming. Watching thunder and lightning and rain pour down from an eastern Washington riverfront porch made me feel small, but also loved. It’s a form of therapy.

[bctt tweet=”Watching thunder and lightning and rain pour down from an eastern Washington riverfront porch made me feel small, but also loved. It’s a form of therapy.” username=”inspiredforward”]


No distractions from cell phones, TVs, or laptops. There isn’t any binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Doctor Who when you’re standing in the storms and listening.

It’s the same when I hike. I try to leave the iPod and headphones home because when I walk in nature (or climb, depending on the trail), I want to be with nature. I want the feeling of closeness to my Creator. It also helps that I usually hike where the cell signals are bad, which means I’m not tempted to break out Pokémon Go.

(Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop people from blasting music from their phones as they hike, which is bad trail etiquette. Please don’t do that.)

Every time my dad and I go skiing, I take pictures. It’s of the exact same landscape year after year, of the exact same mountain in the distance (Mt. Rainier) and the same slopes we ski down. But every year I get new pictures because of how powerful it is to see that kind of view. It makes us small and insignificant, and it also makes us tall and powerful and on top of the world.

It’s exhilarating.

We ski together, technically, but in the moments when our skis tip down the hill, I’m alone in the wind and the cold and the power rushing past me.

The faster I go, the more powerful I feel.

Admittedly this has gotten me into trouble in the past, but I don’t let falls or crashes stop me from enjoying the sport. 

This year is the first that the husband and I have invested in a trailhead parking pass. To make it worth it, we (or I) have to hike at least four times this year at trails where the pass is valid. So far I’ve gone on four hikes (all this month!), and only one has been at a trail that requires that pass. 

Rattlesnake Ledge, in Cedar Falls, WA

rattlesnake ledge

The trail is steeper than I expected despite knowing the grade and final elevation, and pretty much uphill the whole way. It’s a gorgeous trail; quite popular and the trailhead boasts free parking. I will definitely be hiking here again this summer.

Little Si, in North Bend, WA

Now, this hike was exactly as steep as I expected, but for longer stretches than I anticipated. The first quarter mile and the last half to three-quarters were quite the climb! I took care to stop as often as I needed to take a breather and admire the breathtaking views of Mt. Si and the city of North Bend down below.

Cheyenne Mountain, in Colorado Springs, CO

I’m a huge Stargate SG-1 fan, so being able to visit Cheyenne Mountain State Park (and actually see the mountain underneath which sits the air force base where Stargate takes place) was fantastic! There are a lot of trails here, as well as campgrounds, but I stuck to a 4-mile loop that got very windy in places. I almost lost my hat!

Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs, CO

This place is truly awe-inspiring. I found myself just gazing up at these massive formations, feeling humbled just to be there. The views are incredible, the rock formations thought-provoking, and the greenery just right. For some reason, walking beneath these made me feel more inspired. Sentinels, indeed!

[bctt tweet=”My favorite part of hiking is that I feel both small and important in the same instance. I feel inspired, empowered, and excited.” username=”inspiredforward”]

Who am I to gaze upon this natural beauty? 

Who am I to be gifted with such experiences? 

I’ve noticed that the more I hike, the better I feel – not just physically, but mentally. My head is clearer. I’m less liable to worry about things. It’s easier to go with the flow and adjust my plans if the day requires it.

[bctt tweet=”These are my favorite ways to use nature therapy – to stand in awe of the power of nature, the power of God, and realize that I’m here for a purpose.” username=”inspiredforward”]


Do you hike, ski, or do something else in nature? Do you find yourself feeling better mentally after exercising? Let me know in the comments!

About the author 

Colleen Mitchell

Mindset & accountability life coach, writer, podcaster, and full-time analyst in the power industry. I'm passionate about showing people that how we think determines our realities.

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  1. Getting outside and enjoy what has been given to us on this earth is special. Get out and take the time to look around, breath in the air and relax.


  2. Love this! We have been drowning in rain for the past three weeks, so it was nice to live vicariously through some of your pictures. It’s easy to forget how beautiful it is outside your own home ❤


  3. What beautiful pictures! We discovered when we were in TN that our kids love to hike. We haven’t had any major hiking trips since then but we would love to in the future. It was such a peaceful and great family time.


  4. Those are some cool hikes you’ve done recently- I’ve done both Rattlesnake Ridge & Little Si and can attest to their beauty- although these days they seem so crowded that you cannot get that “alone” time in nature!


  5. I love following your journey! Nature is so amazing! I have a little lake that I walk around daily. I am constantly in awe of the nature around me… the birds and how they interact, the beauty and so much more!


  6. I LOVE getting out into nature.. just connecting (and even disconnecting – which might be the best part of this.) Just finding the absolute simpleness in everything. We took our dogs out camping last weekend and just seeing them in nature and being with the people I loved, really brought me closer to myself!


    1. Disconnecting is beneficial, for sure. The last time I did a full disconnect was during a camping trip several years ago. I’ll admit I miss the simplicity of just spending time with people without distractions!


  7. I love hiking. It’s so calming! Garden of the Gods is a fun place to get out and take a stroll, and it’s so uniquely beautiful! We took family pictures there this year.


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