Let’s Get Lost in a Forest!

Autumn at Wheeler Peak in Carson National Forest, NM

If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. ~Alan Watts

The above quote describes the experience I had as I began hiking in the forests of the Western US.  What a difference it’s made in my worldview!  The hundreds of miles I’ve trekked among trees, boulders, rushing waters, shrubs, and wildlife have felt healing from the start, as if the forests have wrapped me in a maternal embrace.

Chama River in Carson National Forest, NM

The first forest to ever steal my heart was Carson National Forest surrounding Taos, New Mexico.  I’ve spent a good bit of time in the area, taking in much of its untamed beauty.  I’ll never forget a late fall hike at Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest mountain, looking at acres of Evergreens and Aspens in the distance with their streaks of dark green and vibrant yellow. I also have fond memories of picking piñon nuts and learning to prepare them inside their shells. The area’s forest includes Aspens, various Pines, Firs, Spruce, fragrant Sage, Rabbitbrush, and sometimes a gazillion wildflowers.  Part of the Chama River runs through the forest, occasionally flanked on one side by mountains.  I was, and still am, head over heels with the Carson NF area. In fact, after years of talking about my love for northern NM, friends and family were puzzled that I chose to move to Arizona instead.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. ~John Muir

Hiking Trail inside Coconino NF, Arizona

The Coconino National Forest played a key role in my selection of northern Arizona.  Humphrey’s Peak, which tops out at 12,633 feet and is sometimes snow-capped for long periods, can be seen throughout much of the forest, and became iconic in my mind.  Between the time I first felt at home here & the year I was able to become a resident, I missed Mt. Humphrey’s like a far-away loved one.  The forest has plentiful hiking trails and encompasses the country’s largest stand of Ponderosa Pine Trees.  With a climate similar to that of northern New Mexico, Aspens, Spruce, Firs, and Junipers can be found here, as well as a few ancient Bristlecone Pines and Cypress trees. Due to a great number of blooming trees and bushes, Springtime delivers an intoxicating fragrance to the air.  As a bonus, the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness is part of the forest, running parallel with Oak Creek between Flagstaff and Sedona.  This part of Red Rock Country is not as touristy as Sedona proper, yet its beauty could be superior.

A warm hike inside Dixie National Forest, Utah

Speaking of red rocks, southern Utah has its share inside Dixie National Forest.  From the first time I explored the area, I was struck by the gorgeous contrast between the burnt red of many of its rocks and the bold greens of surrounding trees, bushes, and grasses.  I’ve done quite a bit of hosteling, camping, hiking, and exploring of National Parks in and around the forest.  Bryce Canyon NP’s many hoodoos are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  The simple act of driving through the beauty of Zion NP is a soothing experience, and hiking is even better.  Arches NP has some really unusual red rock formations, including, of course, arches!  Dixie National Forest’s desert-type terrain is dotted by plants, lakes and streams.

I absolutely believe in a greater spiritual power, far greater than I am, from which I have derived strength in moments of sadness or fear. That’s what I believe, and it was very, very strong in the forest. ~Jane Goodall

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Further north and east lies the state of Wyoming.  After my first time driving almost the entire length of the state thinking what’s all the fuss about?, I came to the Bridger-Teton National Forest.  The nagging question disappeared from my mind, replaced by Oh, my . . . wow! . . . gorgeous!  The area contains 7 of the world’s largest glaciers, hundreds of alpine lakes, and a number of sweeping valleys.  Many headwaters can be found in the forest, including Two Ocean Creek, which is split by the Continental Divide to eventually make its way to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  The Grand Tetons are part of this stunning forest.  Considered an adolescent range due to their age of 10 million versus the Rockies’ 50-80 million years, the Tetons have experienced much less erosion, which accounts for their jagged tops.

Bridger-Teton NF, Wyoming

This post would not be complete without mention of Los Padres National Forest in California, which includes the breathtaking coast of Big Sur.  This forest includes over 200 hiking trails, 100 peaks, 150 springs, and almost 300 camping areas.  Impressive, huh?  If you ever visit the area, you will never forget its extraordinary beauty.  My first visit involved a month-long work-study program at Esalen Institute.  Each morning, I walked among the trees near the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean from the boarding house to the main property, taking photos & imprinting on my soul the aesthetics of this wondrous forest by the ocean.

Pacific Coast Hwy shrouded in fog, Los Padres NF, California

What an irony it is that these living beings in whose shade we sit, whose fruit we eat, whose limbs we climb . . . are so poorly understood. We need to come, as soon as possible, to a profound understanding and appreciation for trees and forests and the vital role they play, for they are among our best allies in the uncertain future that is unfolding. ~Jim Robbins, author of The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet

Forests have indeed changed my perception of myself and that of the world.  I have no doubt now that I belong; I am a part of Nature, as are you.  During my many hours among the trees, I have come to know a healing embrace: that of our Primal Mother.

Blessings for Forest Healing,

Lisa

61 thoughts on “Let’s Get Lost in a Forest!

  1. Lisa, this is one of your most moving posts! I too love trees, and I’m not ashamed to be found hugging them. Your pictures show a stunning landscape, a country I will probably never get to visit. I’m not well-traveled and when I was living and working in London, many many years ago, I was advised to move to the west. After redundancy in the 90s, that’s what we did, moving to the border between England and Wales. Then about 15 years ago we moved northwest, returning to NI. Now I think about it, maybe I was meant to travel much further west to the US! Life…..! Here on these islands, especially on the island of Ireland, there are too few trees. However, I campaign for trees regularly, through various charities but especially through the Woodland Trust. I love your quote from Jim Robbins and must find out more about him. Thank you for this wonderful post. Have a special, happy weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, Ashley, I am so grateful for your ongoing encouragement & support of my blog! I didn’t realize your country has a tree shortage. If the current trends in the US continue, we may not be far behind. Due to covid, city residents have been flooding smaller towns, increasing the demand for housing. Wood panels and 2 x 4’s are now selling at about 3 times what they were, and investors are starting to buy large swathes of wooded areas for the sole purpose of having the trees cut for lumber, thereby doubling (or tripling) their return on investment. It breaks my heart & should be illegal, but I suppose it will continue until climate change is taken more seriously by our politicians. You will enjoy reading Jim Robbins. His writing is filled with a genuine love for trees. I wish you a great weekend, too, my friend! 🌞

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  2. What a gorgeous variety of forests and places you have explored Lisa. I’m 30 years removed from my days exploring national parks. It sounds like you’ve taken more time to really savor and enjoy these forests. Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Brad, thank you for stopping by & sharing your kind thoughts. Nature has a strong pull on me, and I constantly find myself planning to return: this summer, next fall, in a few years, and I’m already considering a travel trailer for when I retire to once again spend time in these glorious places & explore new ones! Have a beautiful week! 🌞

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  3. I fine you can really come to terms with yourself with a hearty hike i(or in my specific case an ultra-run) n a gorgeous forest. The weight of life just seem seems to melt away as you pass through the trees. You definitely highlight a fine set of places to visit.

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  4. Forest bathing. It’s a thing, a real one. 🙂 Beautiful photos as usual of places I’ve visited or hope to visit. My part of Wyoming is in the Big Horn Mountains near Sheridan and I can’t wait to visit it again later this summer.

    Have a peace-filled weekend.

    janet

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  5. Your lovely photo’s makes me want to put my hiking shoes on and go to the nearest forest! Whenever we hike and get to an area with trees, we put our stuff down and just embrace the moment … to hear the wind whispers through the leaves – that’s magic moments 🍂.

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  6. Beautiful essay and photographs, Lisa. Are you familiar with Richard Powers award winning book, The Overstory? He describes many similar sentiments. A memorable moment in my hiking life was along a Pacific Crest Trail ridge-line listening to the wind pass through the trees on the other side of the valley.

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    1. Hi, James, and thank you for sharing your sweet hiking memory. Happy you enjoyed the post! I am familiar with The Overstory, but found it adversely affected my sleep several nights in a row, and therefore I didn’t make it through the entire book. (I read in bed at night.) I appreciate your kind support of my blog, and hope your weekend is going well! 🌞

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    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I’ll bet you really look forward to that big Western trip! Happy to hear you want to visit some of the beautiful places I’ve experienced! I tell friends that I am the best tour guide because I absolutely love these lands & want everyone else to love them too! 🌞

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  7. Thanks sweetie, can’t wait to get out there and HIKE

    On Fri, May 21, 2021 at 9:33 AM Micro of the Macro wrote:

    > Lisa at Micro of the Macro posted: ” Autumn at Wheeler Peak in Carson > National Forest, NM If you go off into a far, far forest and get very > quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. > ~Alan Watts The above quote describes the experience I had as I began hik” >

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It looks breath-taking! Over here in the Netherlands, we’re more likely to see farms than forests. They can sometimes be beautiful for a different reason, but nothing on this scale. Nature can be powerful in its majesty.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow Lisa,
    What a comprehensive post as always delivered so beautifully with your quotes and your beautiful pictures. Nature truly is our biggest gift❣️
    It’s been awhile and glad to see you in print. Big hugs and love🤗💖

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lisa, Thank you for a gorgeous post! ❤ I have thoroughly enjoyed it!

    I have spent time in a few national parks and enjoyed every minute. If I had another life to live, I would like to explore many more! When I was teaching, I purchased a video of the national parks and enjoyed it for several years with my students. In the US, we are lucky to have so many beautiful National Parks.

    Have a great week! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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