“Any fool can destroy trees.” John Muir
One of the Muir’s pressing reasons for creating “The Sierra Club” was to try to slow the destruction of California’s redwood forest. He was called an ignorant fool for suggesting that all of the redwood trees could be chopped down. Currently only 5% of the original forest remains and most of that is protected in national, state and regional parks.
Excerpt; Biodesign Out For A Walk. Chap. 23, Simple Gifts: Peter.
“Peter, [an English priest for 30 years], described his solitary walk among the giant coast redwood trees as one of the most sacred walks in his life.”
John Steinbeck penned:
“No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know; they are ambassadors from another time.” ~John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley In Search of America, 1962
As for the importance of walking in Nature, Henry Thoreau wrote:
“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of walking, that is, of taking walks; who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going à la sainte terre”— to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a sainte-terrer”, a saunterer — a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean.”
One of the most intriguing and transforming aspects of walking in wilderness areas is the sense that the land is speaking a spirit language. Whether in the desert, on top of a mountain, along a mountain stream, beside a lake, on a sandy beach each type of scenery can stir the spirit within. Emerson, Muir and Thoreau understood clearly that their own personal identity was the product of all their Nature walks. Aristotle developed the Peripatetic Method of teaching, which involved walking with his students as they learned new concepts.
Many of the greatest moments I shared with students occurred while walking one-on-one along Yosemite, Grand Canyon or Mendocino trails.
There is a branch of Zen Buddhism that claims that important lessons of life can only be learned by walking barefoot. Native Americans often found “paleface shoes” too rigid and confining. They preferred either bare feet or wearing lightweight deerskin moccasins.
There is a Zen koan that states “one cannot enter the same river twice.” Perhaps the same can be said about entering a virgin redwood forest; one cannot enter and reemerge unchanged.