Being in the Trees ~ by Molly Cope
Being in the Trees
I have an obsession with hiking. As the weekend approaches, I get antsy and uneasy if I have not figured out what trail I will be exploring. Certainly, people can feel this way about exercising in general, but hiking leaves me with a different feeling than if I am exercising indoors or going for a walk in my neighborhood. When I am walking out in nature, insurmountable problems somehow suddenly have solutions, petty annoyances become opportunities for gratitude, and generally, all feels right with the world.Until writing this, I had never bothered to look into what has been written about the benefits of hiking, and why it may be different than other forms of exercise. There are many articles on this topic but here is a particularly good one from The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley that sums up some of the research that has been done on the perks of walking in nature. These benefits include letting our brains have a break from “attention overload”—the mental fatigue that comes from living and working in a world where computers and cell phones are a constant distraction, to keeping our brains sharp having to navigate a trail, to increasing our connection to nature, which in turn motivates us to protect it.
This morning in Meeting for Worship, two students in the 8th grade presented the queries for the month. They were: “How do we as a school community use our belief in the Divine to help us find ways to preserve and protect the Earth and all of its creatures?” and “What do I do in my daily life to help take care of the Earth, and how does it make me feel closer to God?” I think hitting the trails may be a step in the right direction to finding an answer to these questions.
Here are some tips that I have found helpful as well as some of my favorite nearby trails.
The All-Trails app! This app can find a trail near you or in any part of the country. It provides the distance, altitude change, and the approximate time it will take to complete it. But best of all, it has maps of these trails and uses GPS to show you where you are so you can never stray too far.
Wear comfy shoes or hiking boots - they do make a difference.
Wear layers and have a little backpack to keep them in when you are taking them on and off.
Some great nearby trails
Palmyra Cove Nature Park Cove Trail - This is a fantastic out and back trail along the Delaware. The map on AllTrails stops before the end but make sure you go until the trail runs out. Then try some of the shorter trails on your way back to the nature center.
Black Run Nature Preserve - This link will take you to two trails that are in Black Run, but anywhere you wander around here is wonderful. There are two sections to this preserve that are on either side of a road; I happen to prefer the smaller one even though you run out of trail more quickly.
Wissahickon Valley Park - This link will take you to the many options for trails in the park, and although its proximity to Philadelphia can mean that the park can be a bit crowded, it also means you can stop for a cheesesteak at Dalessandro’s on the way home.
If you need a hiking buddy, you know how to find me.