“Winter has many dimensions, and unless one can stand on a hilltop or walk up a valley stripped to fundamentals, one misses some of them. Winter is more than a season bounded by a solstice and an equinox, more even than snowstorms and icebound lakes and wind roaring down from the Arctic tundra. It is primitive forces at work, cleansing and clarifying the earth. But it is also beautiful and awesome and full of wonder.
I cannot know the year complete or life complete without knowing winter. The year, like the land itself, demands that I participate, simply because I am alive.
Your pulse is as insistent as the rhythm of the days and the seasons, insistent as the ocean’s tides. You are of the earth and the universe, and you cannot resign.
Last night, after a day of winter’s cold, still magnificence. The thin curl of a new moon was low in the west, almost down on the dark grove of pines on the mountain, a ridge of rock that was old when mankind was young. And somehow I knew that I was one with the wind and the stars and the earth itself. Winter was all around me, simple as the glittering breath from my lungs. I was a part of the mystery.”
-- Hal Borland, Seasons (Lippincott, 1973)
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We’ve entered another New Year – which happens to mark our 37th year of offering hikes and other trips (Wild Earth Adventures was born in 1980).
As usual, much has been said and written lately about welcoming in the New Year, saying goodbye to 2016, and considering the promise of what may lie ahead.
Dark winter days make it hard for some people to feel joyful during this winter season. And because of the recent election, the mood among many is darker still.
Most of us long for some security in our world and our personal lives – although as wise people have always pointed out, true security is an illusion.
Just like the weather, our future can never be predicted beyond the short run (and even then we could be wrong). When it comes to the leadership of our country and the world, we can only hope that sanity and wisdom will somehow prevail.
In spite of current crises that concern us, including circumstances that endanger people (and the natural world) here and elsewhere, life thankfully has a resilience that often allows it to survive and even thrive amid challenges.
For some of us these feel like especially trying times. But there are always grounds for hope. The majority of our population clearly continues to support the policies and attitudes that seemed to have been defeated in the last election. And there are actually millions of good people and many hundreds of organizations that are continuing to work hard to make this world a better one. It's far from easy in the face of difficulties and setbacks, and important to be realistic about challenges, but trying to maintain a positive attitude is essential.
We do need to periodically restore ourselves, and we’ll hopefully always be able to turn to nature as a refuge. And to engage in activities like hiking not only for the healthy pleasures they offer, but as therapy for stress and “other ills of modern life.”
Many of you have already reserved for some winter hikes, and others of you are undoubtedly planning to join us in the coming weeks and months.
If you’re someone who has any hesitation about hiking in the cold, this is the time to be brave, bundle up, and prepare to give your spirits a big lift as we re-connect with nature this winter.
Yes, the days are lengthening, and spring is just 11 weeks away... but some wonderful opportunities are beckoning right now! Consider making plans for some winter hikes today...
-- Charlie Cook