Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details.
– Edward Abbey
Everything seems to want to slow down a bit in July. And given the pace of life for a lot of us these days, that is a beautiful thing. I’m not the first to suggest we stop and smell the roses once in a while – pretty sure that was Ferris Bueller – but I think there really might be something to it.
T.A. Barron, an author of young reader fiction, said it well in a story called The Ancient One set in the redwoods: “Motion and speed [are] so addictive, crowding out the calmness and focus needed to know one special place well.” Since we are blessed with a multitude of special places — many of which can be found along a trail — seems like we ought to use the unhurried month of July to get calm and focused, and take a walk.
Walking on a trail is the perfect prescription for a hectic routine. On a walk in the woods, we become part of the slow, rhythmic pace of nature. We’re treated with intimate glimpses of beauty punctuated by moments of awe and joy. From a perfectly-camouflaged salamander on the forest floor to spectacular mountain vistas; from a tiny spring tumbling over a mossy ledge to a towering ancient redwood in a grove of titans; a walk on a trail can bring you to the places that remind you how beautiful the world is, and then guide you home with hope and calm.
And, while we don’t really need studies to confirm that hiking is a good thing, they do so anyway. Hiking has loads of well-documented benefits for our health and happiness. (This infographic shows how great time spent outside can be for us.) Replacing the chaos of the calendar and our obsessive multitasking with a little of what summer has to offer — the calm, focused pursuit of special places — will do us a world of good.
So, to help you get outside sooner and make the most of the remaining long summer days, here are my favorite resources for deciding where to go, what to do and how to get there:
• Redwoods Finder Interactive Map: Includes 48 magnificent parks with insider info on where to go and what to do
• 45 Best Hiking Trails of the West: Via Sunset Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle
• Transit and Trails: Helps you find, plan and share outdoor activities
• Family Guide to the Coast Redwoods and Family Guide to the Giant Sequoias: Free travel guides full of tips and tricks from Save the Redwoods League
• Upcoming Events and Hikes in the redwoods