On Mount Shasta - Julie Goolsby

A Walk in the Woods (and the Mountains, and the Beach …)

Spending time in nature helps me to reconnect with myself. It gives me pause. Everything falls away—all of the worries, to-do lists, all the striving. Being surrounded by natural beauty brings me fully present. I’m humbled. I feel alive.

Recently, my husband and I spent some time out on the West Coast in early January visiting my brother and sister-in-law. During our visit, we took an epic trip to Northern California. Over the course of about two days, we visited Mount Shasta, the Redwood Forest, and the Pacific Ocean. It was intense. It was a whirlwind. And most of all, it was amazing. Talk about a spiritual journey!

On the first day, as we drove down the highway, a snow-covered Mount Shasta emerged from the landscape. It was truly breathtaking. We drove up the mountain as far as we could and stepped out into the sparkling, pristine snow. There was a hush of stillness. A single raven flew down and perched at the top of a nearby tree. Truly a mystical moment on an already beautiful day.

Mount Shasta with trees - Julie Goolsby
Mount Shasta (photo by Julie Goolsby)

The next day we made an early morning (breathtaking!) visit to the Pacific beachfront in the village of Trinidad and then we hit the road again to visit the Redwood Forest. Walking through the Redwood Forest felt magical. It was as if we had time-traveled to a prehistoric landscape! Because of the time of year, there weren’t many other people there, just the four of us hiking among trees taller than some buildings. A light mist fell at times that only added to the sensation of otherworldliness.

Redwoods - Julie Goolsby
Redwood Trees (photo by Julie Goolsby)
"Big Tree" in the Redwood Forest - Julie Goolsby
Photo of the author by “Big Tree” in the Redwood Forest (photo by Todd Starr)

Later that afternoon, we stopped at Crescent City Beach along the Pacific Ocean. To stand before those intense crashing waves on a slick, wind-swept beach was bracing, to say the least. I always feel both healed and energized when I spend time near the ocean. The water that day was way too cold (and choppy!) to wade in, but just to spend time in the presence of such a powerful force of nature was enough.

Honestly, there are no words to accurately describe any of these places. And the same goes for pictures. They just don’t compare to the actual experience.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit this part of the United States and you have the opportunity to do so, do it. And regardless, spend time in nature.

Pacific Ocean (photo by Julie Goolsby)

Nature can be profoundly healing. If you’re feeling out of sorts, some time outdoors can often help bring peace and healing. It’s a great way to clear your head. In fact, in Japan there is even a term for this: forest bathing. You don’t necessarily have to spend time in a forest; it could be as simple as a walk in your local park. Step outside and take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and feel the sunshine (even if it’s cold outside; just bundle up!). It’s good to be alive.

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