Why hiking brings joy…

Looking down on Verlorenkloof

Earth, rivers, mountains, trees, silent canyons, babbling creeks… if you spend time in nature you have probably noticed you feel happier and more peaceful…
Why?

One of the better known theories as far as I can google is “biophilia hypothesis” suggesting that we love nature because we evolved from natute… we need it for our psycological well-being because it is in our DNA..

I tend to agree whole heartedly with this but it leaves me wanting more… grasping for more… what happens to us in nature… how are we changed… touched… even guided… where does the joy come from…

Enjoying the moment

Nature teaches you that there is nothing wrong with you… when you are in nature… you don’t have to look in mirrors… you are either focussed on your surroundings or what you are busy doing… like climbing… pitching a tent…crossing a river…when you are in nature… alone or in a group… you get welcome relieve from sexism… racism…homophobia… transphobia and everything else we use to opress… stigmatise and belittle each other…Nature display incredible diversity in all her glory… there are fat trees and skinny ones… short ones and tall ones… in a single clump of orange flowers you might see a yellow one..and realize in awe it is a mutation… we never say… how wrong… that flower is different… that tree is fat… we say how beautiful… how marvelous… that impacts us below the level of thought… without thinking..

Time slowing down

Time seems to slow down… urgency, deadlines and and… as measured in hours.. minutes and seconds…seem to melt away…clocks teaches us to abandon the natural rythms of our bodies and the earth and conform to a schedule rooted in a economic systems of survival and that causes stress.. Nature shows us a healthier pace of life… trees grow s-l-o-w-l-y…deer graze calmly… rabits scamper about but that is their natural pace… everything is moving according to their natural rythm… soon you begin to feel it and do the same…

Spectacular Blyde canyon

Nature teaches us the concept of “just enough” sustainability… our culture teaches us we never have enough… we want more… more money… we want to buy more things… eat more delicious food… in contrast nature embody harmony and balance… trees grow to a height that reflect the nutrients and water immediately available… squirrels store just the right amount of nuts to keep them through winter… witnessing this balance and harmony is like an ointment in the wounds of over consumption. 

Surrender

You surrender comfort and control..society again propagate the myth that we should strive to be as comfortable as possible… to make life as pleasureable as possible.. the endless search for this makes so many unhappy… we simply  cannot be pleasured and comfortable all the time… we can not control everything…trying to achieve permanent control and control leads to a dull meaningless life that kills the soul.

Back to reality

Nature calls us back to reality… you can not stop it from raining… you can not stop the setting sun… you cannot set the temperature to your liking and pleasure… if you climb a mountain your legs are going to burn… but with this acceptence and surrender that you are not in control comes such relief. You awake from a dream and realise how little control you teally have… you remember that hardships and lack of control are a part of life and accepting this reality makes it not only bearable but possible to feel the joy of being alive…

Appreciate life

We do everything to avoid the knowledge that we… and everyone we love are going to die… In nature we encounter death… we see dead trees all the time… and behold.. they are nursing young plants… an exotic mushroom to life… you walk through a burned area and see a profusion of wildflowers thrifing in the newly enriched soil… you might on occasion find animal skulls and bones… death around you… when we see death we value our life more… the present moment more… and experience surges of joy to be alive…

Slime fungi

You behold the beauty of nature… how is such majesty possible… the strength of that mountain… standing there for all those ages… not moving… strong… the miracle of a single flower infused with sunlight.. the dew drops on a spiders web… the revelation of a tree… rooted deep in earth… streching reaching to the sky… bearing silent witness to the world around it.. you feel alive… joy… and whole again…

Becoming one with the trail

You remember that you are connected to all living things… you feel you belong to the earth… that you are a part of the community of nature… you are made of the same substance and that you are no better… or worse… than that bird you see… that tree… or the other hiker walking up the trail with you…

Why we love hiking
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