I do it a lot—I go into the wilderness to lose my mind and find my ghosts.
As in, I put on my backpack (Elvira is her name) or book a ticket and head out into the wilderness for days on end.
I always learn something new about myself; I find the pieces that I’ve ghosted over the years.
I’ve been lucky enough to go often lately, and there are a few typical reactions when people hear that I pack up my pups and wander off into the wilderness by myself. Many say they’d love to do it but couldn’t possibly because of (insert excuse); some show a look of sheer horror on their face at the very idea.
Then there are the people who would either love it or hate it—but they aren’t sure which because they’ve never experienced anything like it. Sometimes I can tell which way they’d swing; sometimes I cannot.
Being in the middle of a forest or on a mountain trail feels like home to me. It is never quiet in nature, but after learning to hear the animals and birds, listening to their calls has become a type of meditation.
Although certain events can be scary, I have no fear when I am there. Some of the pieces of me that are always on guard can just relax. Other pieces that are usually dormant get to come out to play.
There are no words to describe that one certain spot you can always find—but never on purpose—that smells like good memories and green. Nothing holds a candle to it. You’ll know it when you smell it.
Because I am an empath, I feel refreshed from the time away, especially from other people’s energies and loud noises. As a soul, I feel reconnected.
Unplugging from the news for a few days has become crucial lately. There is so much going on in the world that to spend some time focused internally always helps to put things into perspective.
These are just some of the reasons I go. If you go, you already know.
But if you’ve ever wanted to or thought about it, this is your push. Try it—you just might like it.
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And here are a few things to consider:
>> Figure out your comfort level.
As a trekker, I love sleeping in a tent. If I’m sticking close to home, I much prefer yurts and teepees. The extra puppy this year is one reason, but so is comfort. A place with walls to escape mosquitoes or coyotes or unexpectedly foul weather is nice, as is an indoor fireplace and sometimes even a bed.
>> Know your skill level.
Packing-in requires different skills than finding a place where you can park your car. Cooking techniques vary from over the campfire (use the coals!) to an indoor grill. Hiking in the mountains is a lot different than hiking through the rain forest. Basic bodily functions are addressed differently out there.
>> Understand where you are going.
Know the local weather, wildlife, and conditions. Be prepared appropriately and always with a first aid kit. Stop in at a restaurant and talk to the locals so you know what sort of things may be in store for you.
>> It’s not all zen.
It’s bug bites and strange noises in the night and lost skin and lost sleep. It’s getting dirty and hungry and cold. It’s facing yourself when there are no other distractions. I personally love being covered in dirt and smoke and smelling like a fire and feeling like a warrior goddess (and the shower at the end of it all), but it is not for everyone.
>> Go for your own reasons.
Sometimes it’s a solo trip, but it is also fun to get away with good friends or to take the time to learn about someone new. The things you can learn about each other beside a fire are significant. The things you learn when things go wrong are telling.
>> Learn to start a fire.
Have the knowledge and be prepared to start and maintain a fire. It takes skill. It takes practice. Carry three different ways to build a fire with you. It is something that could save your life.
>> Pack light.
Pack your bag, unpack it, and remove at least a quarter of the items. Just take the vital items. You don’t need five outfits and three pairs of shoes. This is a big tip that I have skipped to my dismay. You’ll thank me after you ignore it the first time, too.
I love taking day trips and hiking but there is something about spending days offline and in the midst of nature that allows a restlessness inside to still and the feral side to play. It’s challenging and can be risky and it makes me feel alive.
There are tons of ways to find places to go—try a guide or an outdoorsy friend. Trust me, your friend will be happy to tell you all about it or take you. But please, always be careful and know your surroundings.
I just returned from a weekend at a yurt. I spent a lot of time watching the dogs run and eating and sleeping. It was the morning that I had to leave that I finally felt relaxed and attuned and ready to sit, so it was not at all the trip I had anticipated. But it was what I needed. That’s usually how it works.
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“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” ~ John Muir