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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.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. Click To Tweet
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.
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
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
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!My favorite part of hiking is that I feel both small and important in the same instance. I feel inspired, empowered, and excited. Click To Tweet
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.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. Click To Tweet
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!