Trails of Renewal

Trail in Grand Teton National Park

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something . . . that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

That subtle something that Stevenson references above is love, in my opinion. Hiking for miles in areas surrounded by mountains, stately trees, and wildlife I’d never seen in their natural habitat, with amazing skies overhead and occasional otherworldly deserts, all punctuated by streams, rivers, lakes, and seas: these are the gifts of Mother Nature that resolved my sense of disenchantment (see Escaping Normal for more on this), healed my thinking, and delivered me into the realization of oneness with Her. Can anything other than love mend one so thoroughly?

Over the course of 3 years, I visited many places known for their visual charm, where I hiked hundreds of miles. I encountered moose, buffalo, elk, bears, marmots, all kinds of birds & reptiles, deer, squirrels, and chipmunks. The sights, sounds, and smells of these explorations in Nature were rejuvenating. And the experiences I had will forever make me smile.

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God. ~George Washington Carver

The Teton Trail where I encountered “Chippy”

My funniest memory of hiking was on a trail in the Teton Range of Wyoming surrounded by autumn-kissed leaves, grandfather evergreens, and plentiful ground cover. I had been on the trail for a long while without passing another hiker, so I was in a bit of a meditative state. As I rounded a cliff, a sudden, severe screech shattered the silence, scaring me to shivers. Continuing onward, I soon saw the culprit: a tiny chipmunk, the apparent sentinel of the forest, screeching more frequently as I approached him! You little *%&#!

Part of our hike in Germany

One of my most unusual hikes was in Northern Germany with a friend I was visiting. It was a long hike, through lots of hilly rural settings. We were on a trail for most of the day, but we also traipsed through a cow pasture. I voiced my concern that perhaps we were off the trail, and I was afraid we were going to be shot, but my friend assured me that her neighbors were a bit more lenient than mine in the US!

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. ~John Muir

Cathedral Wash trail

Cathedral Wash in Northern Arizona has been my most challenging hike, both physically and mentally. The trail drops about 400 feet in elevation through layers of sandstone which become towering cliffs on both sides of the trail in places. Many of the drops of 3 to 30 feet require an assessment as to how to descend to the next part of the trail, and there is some scrambling involved. The first time I hiked it, there were no cairns (markers) indicating the best way to proceed. On my second visit, the trail had been marked, but it had recently rained, and the best way to hike the dry trail is different from the best way to hike the trail with inches-deep water in places! Cathedral Wash ends with a breathtaking view of the rushing Colorado River just outside the Grand Canyon.

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit. ~Edward Abbey

Hanging Lake up Glenwood Canyon

The trail that resulted in the most unexpected beauty at the end was the ascent up Glenwood Canyon, Colorado to Hanging Lake. I had heard good things about it from fellow rafters the day prior, but nothing could have prepared me for its extraordinary beauty. This is also the trail on which I learned one of my most important hiking lessons: always have extra camera batteries on hand! I got a few nice shots, but not nearly as many as I would have liked.

Hiking among California Redwoods

Hiking through the California Redwoods on a trail that took me to the waters of the Pacific Ocean qualifies as one of my most inspiring hikes. Glorious Redwoods enveloped me for most of the hike, and near the end, the view opened up to deep blue sky, gently crashing waves, and the rocky coast of Northern California. What a spectacular reveal!

The scene at the end of the Redwood trail

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.
~Alexander Pope

View from a trail inside the Grand Canyon

In addition to the trails already mentioned, I’ve also trekked through a rainforest on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, made my way to the tops of waterfalls at Yosemite, and explored much of California’s Sierra Nevada. I have witnessed on foot the majesty that is Glacier National Park. I enjoyed a number of waterfalls while hiking the Columbia River Gorge and descended to the water’s edge at Crater Lake. I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, wandered up and down the red rocks of Sedona, and traversed a great many tree roots and boulders on the way to the top of Mt. Humphrey’s, the highest peak in Arizona. Hiking the great outdoors has been good for me physically, but I feel it has served me even better psychologically and spiritually.

Sedona’s Secret Mountain Wilderness

Nature has an incredible capacity to heal and rejuvenate us. Hiking among mountains, trees, lakes, oceans, and wildlife, I know I am at one with this awesome creation; I belong. The healing love that emanates from Nature is like no other: She is, after all, our collective Mother.

Sweeping View from the top of Mt. Humphrey’s

Rocks and waters, . . . are words of God, and so are men. We all flow from one fountain Soul. All are expressions of one Love. ~John Muir

Blessings for Oneness,


The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

66 thoughts on “Trails of Renewal

  1. You have some incredible journeys under your belt and hope one day to be able to witness some of the sources of your inspiring pictures. As breathtaking as some of those destinations are, firmly believe it is truly the journey that splendors the soul and lightens the heart. I always smile when someone asks me why I enjoy putting myself through the punishment of finishing ultra-trail races – it isn’t the “finishing” part that brings the enjoyment, it’s the absolute clarity you gain getting there. Thanks for sharing Lisa.

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  2. I really relate to what you’ve posted here. I have visited many of the places you’ve described and spend my summers hiking in the Canadian Rockies (where I live). It is the best way I know to refresh the soul!

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  3. If I read this story I realize that your visited many great places on our planet. You must be happy to have had the opportunity to do so. The pictures make me dream away and stimulate my sens for adventure. Enjoy the weekend !

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  4. I have never travelled far from Britain and Ireland and this post, and others you’ve posted leaves me breathless! Nevertheless, I would certainly be a poor human being if I didn’t walk among the trees and hills of these islands. I love your John Muir quotes and whilst this may not be word-perfect I believe he also said that when we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. An amazing character! A wonderful post, Lisa, and now I really must do some reading about this famous Scotsman, ‘father’ of your National Parks and so much more! (I subscribe to the Sierra Club). Have a great weekend. 💖🙏

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    1. Hi, Ashley, I’m so happy you’re enjoying my posts & photos! John Muir was indeed a very special man. I was surprised to learn that, being from another country, he had such a strong influence on our lands. He met with one of our presidents and entertained all kinds of writers and artists in efforts to protect some of our most beautiful wild places. God bless him! I hope to someday see your part of the world, as well. And I hope your weekend finds you reveling in springtime! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The one photo is as beautiful as the other … I was trying to choose a favourite, but it was impossible!
    When we do a hike, I never have earphones on … my music is that of nature. And it’s true, to hike is definitely a physically bonus, but psychologically and spiritually it always exceed my expectations!

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  6. As always another treasured hike in nature with you Lisa filled with love and uplifiting words, pictures and quotes to match! love your lessons and never leave home without extra batteries! 💖💖💖💖


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