“My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.”
― Oliver Sacks
Even a small amount of time in nature can work wonders. But with ten hours, you can do a hell of a lot of thinking.
On each of my hiking trips where I live in Switzerland, I like to observe the different landscapes I pass through and see how they affect me.
Firstly, there is the green farmland, with Swiss Brown cows patrolling its edges, long grasses, and a burning sun above you in the summer months. I struggle on these parts of my hikes – I feel the heat and long for an untamed, wilder landscape.
Second, there are the mountain edges and top, at altitudes that make farming difficult, with loose scree and some snow, even in the warmer months. Up here, I feel so free. I love how wild and untameable it is. I like to watch the black alpendohle, or the crows that cruise at altitude instead of heading down to the worlds below. And I always pause to look at the flowers that are hardy enough to sustain themselves up here, yet still manage to be so beautiful and colourful.
But the third landscape is another contender as my favourite: woodland. I love being in the middle of a forest that is thriving with life. The mossy ground springs underneath your feet, birdsong echoes above you, and you pass the huge boulders that feel so cool to touch on a summer’s day. Nature takes over in a messy, possessive way. I always sit down and try to prolong how long I can spend here.
Although I love to read and enjoy the warmth inside, it’s always outside where I most easily find myself.
“On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.”
- A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver