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Why would a person head to the woods?

March 27, 2013

Why would a person head to the woods? What is the point of hiking and camping? We have all we need surrounding us in these cities and municipalities, so why do we need to spend time out of our regular environment?

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For each person, I know that there could be a variety of reasons to spend time in nature. In just myself, I have many simple AND complex motivations for doing such a thing. Some easy to explain and others difficult to articulate. I can say that I know for sure deep down within me that the desire to spend time in the forest springs from a real and indescribable need. It is like a craving. A voice in the distance calling me. I can hear it in my head and feel it in my body. I have an undeniable physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual connection to nature and I am drawn to it in a very powerful way.

So is that the SIMPLE motivation? That I just feel it? I have spent time considering why and breaking it down to easier to explain reasons. Maybe a few more realistic reasons, for those that have difficulty with the unexplainable.

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I enjoy the exercise. Most times when you are going to be out in the woods, it tends to involve physical activity. You are probably hiking somewhere. Or maybe you are paddling down a river. Probably setting up some equipment and walking around a campground. Whatever you are doing, when you are out of your house surrounded by trees, at some point you are probably moving around. Maybe even sweating. As much as I hate the gym and loathe working out, I feel very satisfied after a good hike. It’s the feeling that the work done by the muscles and bones is one of vitality and life, and ensures the furthering of one’s own history. It just makes you feel good.

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Something else that has occurred to me is that when I am spending time away from the city and my home, I am also spending time away from the stresses of my life. Sure, they are all still there, but I am distracted and distanced, both mentally and physically from them. The lack of compounding stress would be enough to cause anyone to flee to nature. It is a good recharge of my emotional fortitude, and it helps to clear the storm clouds in my head.

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An aspect of camping that I cannot deny also, is that I really like sitting around a campfire, drinking a few beers, and enjoying the varying peace and stimulating conversation. It is an appreciated event, spending time with those close to me in such a relaxed ritualistic setting. I think that it is proves a deep connection to our primitive past, the occasion of gathering around a fire and sharing food and life.

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Ultimately however, my connection to the forest is more spiritual for me than anything. This I know to be true. I have known my clearest thoughts, walking through the woods. I have understood glimpses of our role on this planet and in this existence, as I have spent time among the trees. And there are times that I can recall when I have been at the base of a mountain or camped beside a flowing river, with a fire before me, that I have communed with God. If there is anywhere that I would truly consider to be my temple, it would be in nature. Creation is my holy place. The trees are its elders, and the animals along with us, its congregation.  The air carries with it a quiet hymn, and the soil and water are the dwelling of life’s most blessed sacraments. This is the strongest draw for me.

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I’m sure that more self analysis is down the road, as it always is. But these are my reasons so far. Why do you spend time in the woods?

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9 Comments
  1. Katye permalink

    I like it, keep them coming!

  2. I enjoy the woods/mountains because……..not sure if I can put it into words. It just seems to be the place to be. I feel at home. It’s the desire of my heart. The smell of a campfire, the noises of the forest. If someone needs it explained to them, I’m not sure they can understand the connection. They say everyone misses their favorite “time” in history. I think I missed mine. To travel out west without roads or people would be unbelievable. I know it wouldn’t be as romantic with the reality of laying on rocks with a wool blanket over me, but I still wish I could have lived then.
    BTW: reading your blog reminds me of mine, your writing style resembles mine, enjoyed them very much.

    • Thank you! I hear exactly what you’re saying. As though maybe some of us are supposed to live that way, and never really feel completely at home. It would have been a lot more rugged, for sure, to have lived in a time with hardier gear than we can get access to now. I do remember though, camping as a child with my family and our tent being this heavy canvas thing with about a hundred unmarked poles. Luckily we didn’t have to throw it into a horse drawn wagon every morning…just a Ford Fairmont STATION WAGON.

  3. I had my first campfire in a year this weekend. Normally, I prefer not to have a fire. It’s the wilderness television, I feel like my attention shrinks to the pretty moving colors, until I stop being aware even of the river next to me, and the stars above.

    The funny thing is a lot of people tend to think of the woods and the natural outdoors as one and the same. I go camping most weekends in the summer, usually carrying my tent with me. In the Pacific Northwest, trees have taken over. They’re like a weed, but more prevalent. I think forest hikes are boring. My favorites are high in the mountains, above the timberline, where the light of day reaches the ground, wildflowers are everywhere, and you can see the country all around you. Hiking through the woods is what you have to do to reach these places.

    But I agree with most of what you say. These are two exceptions, and personal ones.

    • I hear ya. That sounds like an impressively beautiful place. Thank you for checking this out, and for your perspective. We don’t have very tall mountains here in Missouri, and as our forests have a lot of trees, it sounds like yours have more!

      • Probably the main thing is you get sunshine in Missouri. You’ve heard the rumors about Seattle, and they’re all true. So those couple weeks a year when the sun comes out, it’s like feeding crack cocaine to a bunch of mice. Otherwise we just read about other peoples’ experiences and dream. 😉

      • Heh heh…yeah we do get a lot of sunshine. I guess we all find the things in each of our environments to appreciate. Too bad mice aren’t a game animal or substantial food source for people…

  4. My partner and I stumbled over here different web page and thought I might
    as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.

    Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

    • Thanks! I hope that you can find some worthwhile information here. I enjoy being in the forest, and trying to spark the inspiration in other people to do the same is the whole point. Take care!

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