By Margret Fernandez, Park Ranger
It’s 43 degrees at 7 a.m. in the morning.
I walk the trailhead, on-hand and available to answer questions and offer trail suggestions. Not one hiker to be seen. I hear the coyotes in the distance yelping, barking after an early morning hunt. As the sun rises, I hear the chirp-chirp of a verdin going from tree to tree.
I see clearly for miles – the greens and browns of the desert. The desert adorned with decades of broken glass from beer and soda bottles. Shining like diamonds in the morning sun, but harmful and possibly deadly to our wildlife.
I’m by myself, but not alone. All around me are remarkable creatures living wild and free in the desert. You only need to sit long enough to spot one.
I continue my hike thinking about an article I read. It stated that a 160-pound person can burn 430 calories an hour hiking, plus 100 more calories carrying a light load. Your metabolism increases with a vigorous hike and the extra calorie burn lasts for an average of 14 hours after your done. Indeed, it’s an affordable way to improve your health.
Science is proving what we’ve known all along: Nature is good for us. Instead of letting the everyday stressors in life defeat me, I enjoy the therapeutic effects of a long walk.
And, like the pounds, my worries melt away.
Perhaps John Muir said it best:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”