“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir
Within an hours drive of my home is 10,000 acre preserve called the DuPont State Recreational Forest. Sunday, my wife and a friend of ours hiked three and a half miles deep into the forest keeping in mind that we would have to hike that same amount out back to civilization.
DuPont forest is located in the Blue Ridge mountain range, a chain that began forming over 400 million years ago (sorry Ben Carson the earth is a little older than 6,000 years) when North America and Europe collided, pushing up the Blue Ridge. At one time the Blue Ridge mountains were among the highest mountains in the world, and reached heights comparable to the much younger Alps. Today, due to weathering and erosion over hundreds of millions of years, the highest peak in the range, Mount Mitchell, is only 6,684 feet high.
When I was a kid there was a park down the street from my house that had a twenty-five acre wooded area with a small creek running down the middle. My friends and I spent entire Saturdays exploring and wandering around this enchanted forest. As an eleven year old, this small tract made it seem that we were miles away from the rest of the world even though our mothers were just a few blocks down the street.
My love of nature began here, wading in a quiet stream looking for salamanders, crayfish, frogs, turtles and bugs. We would turn over rocks and logs to discover a universe beyond the concrete, asphalt and shopping malls that paved civilization as we knew it. A walk in the woods gives me perspective that we are not alone. That the world is much bigger than the universe in my orbit. It reminds me that we are simply guest here, no more important than a lonely bullfrog singing for a mate. I am sure many of you will believe that you are more important than a horny bullfrog but that is simply your point of view, not the bullfrogs.
“I understood at a very early age that in nature, I felt everything I should feel in church but never did. Walking in the woods, I felt in touch with the universe and with the spirit of the universe.” – Alice Walker