My brother and I hiked a popular mountain in Banff on Friday, Tunnel Mountain, and it was breathtaking. The simple act of walking and needing a bit more oxygen to fuel the body makes me joyful, optimistic and hopeful. Once you get over the body awakening from the sloth-like activities we tend to engage in, you start to smell nature and notice things. You start to really notice things. It may be as simple as a rock that has beautiful moss or a magpie flying overhead, but it is like you are seeing for the first time. Then this lovely thing happens where time and space slow down.
I am known to overthink and reflect on life in a way that can disrupt my sleep and create worry, but out in nature, I find peace from my thoughts. Oddly, they disappear for long periods of time and I feel as if I get a break from the day-to-day. This occurs within minutes of beginning a hike and, almost always, the emotions I feel (anxiety, anger, loneliness, depression, confusion) dissipate. Hiking – therapy for my soul.
Not only does this happens while hiking, but also when I run along Lake Ontario Park. There was a moment early last week where I was alone for a portion of the trail and geese flew 10 feet over my head and I couldn’t help but smile. It is that simple and that beautiful. These tiny moments in our lives that imprint on our soul.
The other aspect of hiking that brings joy is a sense of community. My brother and I talked, shared and laughed or simply heard our steps and our breathing. Being with someone in nature and reaching places that can only be reached by foot, gives you a sense of how insignificant and small we really are. When you are surrounded by monstrous mountains, lush valleys and silence, you realize how big and beautiful this world truly is and it is lovely to share with someone.
I even got to experience the joy of Littlefoot,a pet that belongs to my brother’s friend, who took us to Elbow Pass. It’s this amazing hike through a valley where there is no cell reception and you can disconnect on all levels. Watching the dog bounce through the brush, run ahead with a smile, only to come back seconds later, brought another layer of joy to the hike. Simplicity at its finest. Even an animal knows what is good for us.
Seven years ago, nature was introduced to me in a way I had never known and I am forever grateful. I feel privileged for what I have seen in the world; it is where I feel connected to the Earth in a spiritual way.
This isn’t something new, getting out in nature, but I wanted to share my experiences of hiking in the Rocky Mountains and what it does for my soul in the hopes that it provides you with inspiration to get outside with your students, family, or simply by yourself.
What would happen if you decided that our Daily Physical Activity minutes were an opportunity to take your students outside to connect with nature? To show them the possibilities.
- Teach them how to notice the simple things.
- Teach them that a 20 minute walk can change your mood for the better.
- Teach them how to connect with each other in a real way.
Let’s start a Twitter movement, just like our #myreadinglife, and name it #mynaturelife. The world is out there for all of us to experience and love!
Yours in nature, Laural
*A few cool resources to inspire:
- Ace and the Desert Dog
- Children and Nature Network
- Why Connect Kids and Nature
- How to Connect Kids With Nature
- Learning in Nature is Good For Students and Teachers
- A university roommate of mine you should follow – @InspireOutside