Dream Walk: El Camino

 

 

I created a dream hikes and walks bucket list on Pinterest. These are walks I’d love to take in different parts of the world. I’m using the words walk and hike interchangeably because some of these treks are more rigorous than others but still require moving forward at a steady pace.

 

The first walk I’m focused on is El Camino. I’ve seen several movies about pilgrims walking the 497 miles from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.

 

The journey takes about 30 days and rambles through France and Spain. There is the talk of blisters and exhaustion the first few days of the trip. I like the idea of traveling through two of the most interesting countries in Europe while contemplating the religious meaning of the pilgrim. The concept of taking the time to sincerely look at your religious beliefs while learning about your physical limits is a journey not many take-up in their lifetime.

 

El Camino is not just for religious zealots it’s for anyone wanting to walk the miles, see the landscape, eat the food, and make new friends. A passport of sorts proves you have walked at least 100km or cycle 200km and may receive a certificate or Compostale. There are two kinds one for those who are walking for leisure or cultural reasons, and it’s called the Certificate of Welcome. The other for religious pilgrims is the Compostela.

 

What a gift to walk in the footsteps of so many that came before you striving to get closer to God or challenging themselves to walk almost 500 miles. Baptized a Catholic, I have a spiritual connection to El Camino. I think my heart would rejoice in the completion of this epic task.

Eagle’s Nest at Honeymoon Island

As we walked down a well-marked trail with wax berries and wild coffee bushes at Honeymoon Island Park, it was hard to miss the osprey nest along both sides of the path. Their voices rang up and down the trail forcing you to look from side to side like in a tennis match.  At one end of the walk, I found what I was initially looking for a new eagle’s nest in the distance! There wasn’t much eagle activity when I was there no swooping or diving, eating or feeding but now you know where to go and see an eagle’s nest. Last year or the year before two eaglets died so now there’s no eagle cam.

Honeymoon Island has a beach, picnic areas, trails, a food concession stand and a gift shop. Sunsets are to die for!

 

 

What to Take on a Nature Walk

 

New experiences and old memories of beautiful flowers and pine scents make nature walks magical. It’s of course not that way for some, bad experiences like the one shared with me involving M&Ms and raccoon tent invasions do leave unsuspecting people wondering if it’s worth it.

I say, leave the tent behind until you feel more confident and can take on shelter building. Let your feet do the walking through the woods and paths filled with wonder and delight. It’s a way to belong. A way to find solace and feel accepted after all nature doesn’t care what your hair looks like or how much your jeans cost. It’s too busy taking care of business. It’s too busy being nature.

My suggestion is to forget all expectations and become a part of your green space, or whatever color is appropriate for your surroundings, now’s your time to reach out to the flowering plants, towering trees, or animals that call you home.

Here are few tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t take people who don’t like nature on a nature walk it’s a distraction
  • Wear comfortable shoes, sneakers, or hiking boots that are broken in
  • Check the seam on your shorts or pants if it’s rubbing you between your legs take them off and put on something else
  • Grab a map of the park, GPS may not work in some areas
  • Pick the right season one with fewer mosquitoes and some cool breezes

If you need more help find a nature/walking club, park ranger, sports store, or an app.

3 Nature books you must have in your library

 

There are three beautiful books that I would recommend to anyone that has a love of nature.

The thing is they’re not conventional, and so I hope you give them a chance to bring some amazing light into your life.

The first one is “The Tracker “ by Tom Brown Jr. This book is the one that began my spiritual journey and has shown me the value of the natural world in my life. Trained by an Apache elder named Stalking Wolf Tom’s book is his biography of an extraordinarily skilled survivalist who transcends the physical skills and opens the door to spiritual awakening.

The training that Tom received wasn’t just focused on traps and hunting but also on the sacred skills that bring you closer to nature.  It’s a fun adventure into the woods with a twist.

“What the Robin Knows” by Jon Young dives deep into the world of the winged.

It’s a book with a DVD you may purchase separately.  This book is not about bird calls but bird behavior and communication.  What do birds say to each other?  What do they tell us? Is it worth being immersed in this spellbinding tweet fest?  I learned a lot from Jon Young’s portrait of bird speak.

“The Journal of Henry David Thoreau 1837-1861” Thoreau is a legend in the world of naturalist after all he began a movement that still thrives in this country today.

He was a gentleman of his time interested in science and literature traipsing through the woods gathering specimens and tucking them into his stove top hat. He also had poetry in his heart and a love for justice.

In his Journal we are treated to his poetic and scientific mind with the turn of each page.

Walking in the Woods: Slow Down and Relax

Stalking and fox walking are two ways to walk in the woods to better connect with nature. It’s precise soothing and relaxing all at once. Tom Brown III (of Sigma 3 Survival School) is the son of Tom Brown Jr. the famous survivalist, author, and teacher who runs The Tracker School. He is your teacher in this video, lucky you. If you’d like to come closer to the natural world, it’s important to shift your thinking and let your body do the work. Your body remembers the old ways and can take you on great adventures, but a good teacher can’t hurt. Enjoy the video and practice your stalking it’s a great way to slow down and relax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why City Parks Are Good for Your Health

Experiencing the relaxation and joy of my local park and inviting you to the Tampa Nature Therapy Meetup. The crows in the background are the symphony that accompanies this talk on grounding in nature. Grounding is a way to connect to the earth and balance with her help. Being in nature helps your reset as you can see I do in this clip. Visit https://www.meetup.com/Tampa-Nature-Therapy-Meetup/ to join my nature healing walks.

Greenbelt History and City Trails

High Rock and the Greenbelt: The Making of New York City’s Largest Park

In 1976, the influential journalist and “National Geographic” editor John G. Mitchell published a book in the hopes of saving a precious part of Staten Island, where he and his family had lived for many years. The book, “High Rock: A Natural and Unnatural History,” helped to save a beloved tract of land a Girl Scout camp known as High Rock from becoming the roadbed for a m…more 

 

Nature Speaks: A small leaf turned into a nursery.

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I encourage you to take morning walks. It’s a good time to talk to Spirit and ask for guidance. Walk out the door and take a moment to think about what you want for the day. Perhaps come up with a question and allow Spirit to inspire you.

What you see and hear on your walk will depend on your awareness. The thing to look for is context, is this creature that I’ve come across in the morning a nocturnal creature that might not be expected during this time of day? Is this paw print unusual for this area? You’ll have to put your observations together with your intentions and see if you’ve made a spiritual connection. This skill will grow as you exercise this muscle, so give yourself some time.

Usually, I’m interested in having a question answered. So as I walk or sit in nature I ask my question, then wait to see what signs, symbols or omens Spirit sends me. It’s a bit of magic inserted into my life that never gets old.

A small leaf curled up and sealed fell from one of the branches into my lap. I know from experience that it’s an insect nursery. I was startled, and then I noticed how beautiful it was, how complex it was, how interesting it was. And when I put it between my two fingers and began to look at it deeply it dawned on me that my question for the day had been answered.

I was asking about creativity, writing, and nature. This tiny little gift that fell from above was answering my question and Spirit had once again sent me the perfect guidance for the day. Just like the nursery leaf, creativity needs time to develop and when it’s ready, it’ll burst open.

There are times when it’s very clear to me what Spirit is trying to say and other times it might take a few days before I completely understand the answer to my question. It becomes a mini adventure that fills my heart each day.

So give yourself the gift of Spirit’s guidance by visiting nature and learning from her. She is extremely wise and has lots to say, you only need to ask.

Part 3 It All Began on Dykman Street-The Nature Walk

Inwood Hill ParkSuspicious Bob

I told a friend, Bob, about these walks and his first remark was, “How did you find this walk?” When a brochure arrived at my home describing a teacher giving a walk in the park I realized he’s a traveler like me. I also deduced that he read the same book I did, titled “The Tracker,” A book I found on the blanket of a street seller.

Bob wasn’t a traveler yet so he didn’t see that this teacher had access to a certain kind of knowledge. Who knew that I’d take this walk each week for the next three years and find a generous teacher, willing to take me to places I’d only glimpsed in my dreams.

My friend Bob never took the walk with me. He did, however, question everything about the walk. He couldn’t understand why I kept going back. He first started to ask me out for coffee just before the walk, sometimes tempting me with street festivals and bookstores. By the second year, he wanted to meet after the walk to hear about the travelers and see my face. He said it had changed.

I once told him that each group of walkers gave me the impression I’d made a prearranged commitment to meet them in this life for those two hours in the park. The ease with which we all moved and talked was very unlike city dwellers, subway riders, and New Yorkers.

During the walks, Vin would lead and I’d take the rear. My legs became strong after a while and my breathing easy as we moved through the landscape week after week. The first few times I huffed and puffed, but soon my stride opened and my comfort increased. Breathing so much oxygen was invigorating. The trees and I began to know each other.

Walking as One
As we continued our walk, the travelers began to exhibit signs of becoming a clan or tribe. They were remembering how to walk quietly on the earth. Perhaps it’s because we were all cement and asphalt walkers walking on soft soil. The harsh pounding created by hitting pavement was gone. Without the noise we could hear each other.

Each person’s experience seemed to relate to what they were asking for and what they wanted out of the walk. Some wanted a brisk walk, others to learn about survival. Still others were open to the spiritual experience before them. Everyone slowly began to feel “something” was different about this walk.

We were all enchanted, taken to a park and put under a spell until the walk was over. Some travelers felt this and recognized it but others felt “something” they couldn’t describe. The universal response was, “I feel relaxed.” It doesn’t matter who was on the walk or whether they felt like I did about the day. What mattered was that we all rendezvoused for one beautiful New York afternoon to share the woods. Many times we hugged, said good bye, and walked back into our lives never to meet again.