Find Answers in the ForestMay 12, 2023
My last solo medicine walk was in October. I am planning another one for next week to mark the Beltane spring season. (You can read about my first solo walk here.) I love to continue this beautiful practice of going into the woods from sunup to sundown without food or phone to see what nature might reveal to me.
I picked a location with plenty of fall colors, as well as some familiarity to me, but with a little bit of an edge because I had not done a solo walk there before. Part of me wanted to be an adventurous explorer charting new territory, but another part of me felt like I was already meeting so many edges with being alone and fasting all day. I needed a little headroom and that was being on a trail I was familiar with. I still managed to discover new spaces along the trail that I had never been to before and to be in that space in a completely new way.
Every time I take a solo walk or solo camping journey, I create a relationship with the land that I choose to be on and it is then merged into my spiritual practice. When I call on the earth to ground me and renew me, that land becomes part of the energy I am calling in from then on.
It was a beautiful autumn morning when I set out. The full moon was still up in the sky in the east, glowing in the early light. The sun was just barely cusping the mountain peaks even though it was already 7:30am. A little wooden bridge was my threshold. It felt very symbolic. Bridges hold a lot of meaning for me, representing transitions, as well as bridging the gap from one space or time to another. That was part of my intention for the day’s walk.
That morning I had a dream. I was talking to a young woman. I was headed on a road trip. I asked her, “Do you recommend any places I should go? I’ve been a lot of places already, but I’m sure they’ve changed.” And I woke up. So, my intention for my solo walk and the question in my heart was simply, where will my next adventure take me? At the time, I was starting a new business, a new adventure. I wanted to know, how do I stay in my integrity and authenticity on this new life adventure, while remaining in alignment with my purpose?
As I was calling in the elements and connecting with the spirit of the forest as I do at the start of my solo walks, a baby elk ran by—no kidding! Such a gift from nature and the universe that I made the right decision to be there on that day. (This is one of a few reasons why I never bring my dog on solo walks.)
I brought my thermos filled with hot water for forest tea and added juniper berries, sage and pine needles to it as I began my walk. I had many tiny adventures along the way, all of which gave me time to reflect, restore, remember, and reconnect with the natural world and my own nature.
At the end of the day, I happened upon a beautiful aspen grove on the northern side of the ridge that I had never seen before. I stayed for a while and drank tea and watched the golden leaves dance about. As soon as I digested these fragments of the forest that I collected with morning dew still on them, I felt myself take in the forest on a new sensory level and all my forest senses were heightened. The sounds, the smells, the movement, and the proprioception of being within the forest and the forest within me.
As I spoke to the land, I felt a tension. The land feels encroached upon and yet it is more powerful than the people encroaching. The land wants reciprocity and gratitude for all it gives, but it receives very little. The fire and the floods are only the start if we do not change our ways. This area is a buffer between the town and wilderness. I asked, how do you keep one foot in both worlds, to be in nature and in humankind, to be in spirit and in the physical world? I saw in my mind’s eye a trail. A trail leads through the wilderness. It is a clear path set before us first by animals, then by indigenous peoples and then by the forest service of modern-day humans. We stay on the path to tread lightly, a buffer. We are not in the wilderness or in the town. We have one foot in and one foot out.
I considered my intention for the walk. My work must act as a trail. I create a path through the natural world but a human path all the same.
In the time since my autumn solo walk, I have built slowly upon All of Us Stardust, creating new offerings and ways of engaging with my community. To stay in tune with my mission to bring people into reciprocal relationship with the natural world and to help them reconnect to their nature, I continue the tradition of taking solo walks to help me remember and return to my purpose. I am wearing a groove in the channel between human beings and the other than human beings all around us.
I know from experience of creating new trails among the sagebrush in my backyard lands that the more people that use the trail, the more it will be embedded, the longer it will last throughout the seasons. One foot in, one foot out. Where will your next adventure take you?
To learn more about solo walks, check out my guidebook:
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