I’ve never been to Walden Pond and have had only subtle glimpses into Thoreau’s message on the therapeutic value of nature. Walking the Coast to Coast trail, with my daughter through Wordsworth’s Grasmere and the Lakes District of England provided me an intensified belief in the power of nature.
Hiking from the west coast of St. Bees to the small town of Kirkby Stephen my focus was on the sights, smells and sounds of 75 mph winds of Hurricane Ali, rain reflecting off Gortex, four boots marching in sync, rivers and waterfalls flooding our paths, and baaaa’s and mooo’s of native British dwellers.
Over 6 days, 88 miles, two national parks, and 4 summits, I observed:
Stillness giving way to harmony
Quiet creating space to think
Calm allowing for creativity, and
Beauty bringing joy and smiles- even when sopping wet
Deep feelings of peacefulness, previously foreign to me, arrived, but not without a battle of internal forces against modern technology. From my first muddy footstep, I clung to my iPhone for its super powers…emergency services, camera, compass, voice recordings, weather, and maps, texts and, least important, phone. I fully anticipated no internet access and had signed off of email before venturing off to the wild, only to be disappointed when we arrived in one after another remote towns--most of which only consisted of one café, two pubs, six cottages and thousands of sheep--to find high speed Wi-Fi predominantly available.
The first 24 hours I watched apprehensively as my emails accumulated. But with each fell (hill), gill (stream), and crag (rocky cliff) my resistance and persistence grew – like the Romans who marched these paths thousands of years before me - I was on a mission. Focused on nature’s vastness and totality, my internal existence triumphed over the flashing and beeping of technology.
Three hundred eighty-six messages now await me, but my immersion in nature remains a force within me and will ignite me forever. As Dorothy Wordsworth summates:
No need of motion, or of strength, Or even the breathing air:-
I thought of Nature’s loveliest scenes; And with, Memory I was there…
Extract from the poem ‘Thoughts on my Sick-bed”