Imagine yourself peering out of a tent, a mountain vista stretching out to a misty horizon, and the giddy cadence of bid song inviting you to get up and explore. Imagine the roar of a waterfall or the gurgling of a mountain brook, or perhaps even a rush of wind through the trees. And despite the noises, it’s still a profound silence, nothing to consider but your place in the natural world, largely free of human alteration.
The more we spend our collective lives in frenzied cities, the more alluring it is to escape in nature. Stepping into the wilderness means escaping the stress of the everyday, connecting with your body and your mind as you remove the albatross of digital devices, emails and tweets. It’s the best cure for stress, anxiety and depression.
Some of us might contribute to wildlife charities, but it takes the hard work and devotion of so many to ensure our wildlife habits are safe. To see the wilderness is to know it’s being protected and that it should be there next time you choose to explore it.
The smells of the forest are subtle and distinctive. Walk through a forest of pine trees or a group of honeysuckle bushes, and you’ll remember what makes the wilderness so special. Even the earth and a rushing river have scents that are unique to the outdoors.
What about the thrill of seeing an animal, not behind fence but free-roaming and perhaps just as curious as you are? There’s something hard to forget about wildlife encounters with elusive animals like deer; but there’s always the risk of encountering potentially dangerous animals.
The wilderness offers the possibility of new experiences, like seeing a spectacular mountain view or a waterfall you’d never see without a two hour hike. The more challenging the journey, the greater the accomplishment; and only the wilderness offers such rich opportunities to test your capabilities.
Let’s not forget the unparalleled beauty of the outdoors. There are the panoramic vistas and picturesque lakes we might expect; and then there are the unexpected and transcendent experiences of beauty that can be so difficult to describe.
There are also the health benefits of avoiding city smog, and reinvigorating your lungs and removing the usual toxins. On most days, we try not to think about the pollutants in the air we breathe. Once in the wilderness, we realize what it is to breathe clean air.
Gazing up at the night sky, you see a wealth of stars, that can’t be seen for the glare of city lights. This might be you, remembering not just your place in the natural world of our ancestors, but in the universe itself.