Protected Places

Our world is changing quickly under the weight of a expanding population. Cities are sprawling, land is being put to multiple uses, and even designated open spaces are disappearing beneath a maze of OHV trails.  
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Amid this urbanization you can, thankfully, still find areas that are set aside to try to preserve… or reestablish.. the natural state of ecosystems that are disappearing from our planet. I consider nature preserves and wilderness areas as essential to the physical and mental health of homo sapiens.
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I want my grandchildren’s grandchildren to be able to see and experience the pleasure of rain forests, seashores, tundras and prairies!  
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Today I enjoyed expansive views from the Flint Hills Konza Prairieland…. The hike was a 6 mile loop through grassland and scrub forest… and what a perfect day it was to explore!

 

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Solitude

Walking, Hiking, Riding, Geocaching, Sketching, Exploring…. intentionally by myself… alone.

 

To experience time alone in nature can be an opportunity to enjoy solitude and peaceful freedom. An opportunity to travel at your own pace,  entertain your own thoughts… examine your own perspective.  It might take a bit more planning, but less coordination.  Solitude replaces conversation with contemplation.  For me… it is rejuvenating – something I plan for regularly and accept as an option when plans with other people fall through.

In the warm summer months I like to rise quietly before dawn and slip into the still of the desert.  Sometimes I plug in headphones and listen to NPR programs or audiobooks while I walk.   I stop frequently to take photos – the detail in a flower, brilliance of the sunrise or animals along the trail.  Deciding which branch of the path to take becomes a matter of where I turn my attention – each corner brings a new view- the best are those unexpected…. the trail turns eventually toward home and I wrap up my thoughts to tend to the day ahead.

Yesterday I rode my bike along Rim Rock Road on the Colorado National Monument.  It is a popular ride for avid bikers… even when the narrow road is crowded with cars and bicyclists.  But for a few more days the road remains closed to motorized vehicles while they clear snow – reducing the typical danger, stress and noise of this route. Sunshine illuminated the sandstone cliffs above and below me.  The quiet of the landscape around me was my only companion.   I wallowed in my freedom, stopping on narrow shoulders to gaze at the cliffs below, weaving my way back and forth to enjoy the scenery.

The road reopens to cars on Monday. So glad I took the time to experience the solitude today. How about you? Ready for a little time alone?