"Blissfully Lost in the Woods"

Perhaps wilderness is an antidote to our postindustrial self-absorption. It’s a place to be deflated, humbled and awed all at once. It’s a window into a world larger than ourselves, one that doesn’t respond to a remote. It’s an Olympiad for all of us.

This past weekend Nicholas D. Kristof of the NY Times recounted his 200 mile backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail with his fourteen year old daughter. Despite five-foot snow drifts and hundreds of mosquito bites, Kristof and his daughter walked away from the experience feeling exhausted and exhilarated. He made reference to Cheryl Strayed’s novel  Wild (read our review), citing the forest’s ability to provide comfort and solice for Strayed when she needed it most. Last week, blogger Backpacking Matt shared a similar experience:

I enjoy the quiet solitude that comes from walking through the bush, climbing up mountains or pedaling my bike. It’s times like this that allow me to decompress, relax and reflect on life.

Kristof, Strayed, and Matt’s messages are not new to us, but their gentle reminders are important: connecting with nature is an essential human need.  As Kristof says, “In short, the wilderness humbled us, and that’s why it’s indispensable.”

Photo Credit: Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times. See photos and read more about Kristof’s trip here.