Being Wild and Mindful

The only thing Wild movie did for me was make me miss my hiking days in California. Other than that, I wasn’t inspired by the story. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson about his Appalachian Trail hike still remains one of my favorite books about the outdoors. For those who are inspired to go on long-distance hikes after reading/watching Strayed, please do yourself a favor and do the necessary research. As females, as much as I hate saying this, we have to be ten times more careful when doing it alone. If you aren’t prepared, you are putting yourself and others at risk.

Nature is a wonderful healer, but it could also be destructive. I’ve had my share of mishaps with ill-fitting boots (in Yosemite of all places), running out of water on the way back on a multi-day hiking trip, camping under tall trees in a thunderstorm (never got a wink of sleep), getting lost in the rainforest and not making it back before nightfall, etc. These were moments that tested me and made me stronger no doubt, albeit with a few inflamed toes and nightmares. But over time there came a point when I would go on hiking trips and knew exactly what I needed- from carrying the right pack to wearing the correct clothing for the weather.

I am not an avid hiker by any means, but have done enough wandering in the woods to know that doing it alone is often not the best idea, and it’s definitely not right for me. There’d be no one to encourage you when you feel like giving up or share their food with or go get help if you fall and break an ankle. The dangers of the wild should never be underestimated. You can still find solace when hiking with another. There will still be moments you can stand still and take in the beauty of the surroundings. I am more of the believer of happiness being real when shared.

As Strayed followed her mom’s mantra, “Put yourself in the way of beauty,” you too can do it, but please be mindful when setting out to experience the wilderness. If you insist on no human contact, at least bring your trusted canine or be 200% prepared to deal with any unexpected risks. Your life depends on it.

Camping in Tahoe National Forest
Camping in Tahoe National Forest

Published by Lavanya

Lavanya Sunkara is a writer, animal lover, and globetrotter based in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Architectural Digest, Fodor’s, Forbes, USA Today and many more in a career spanning ten years. She covers travel, eco-lifestyle, culture, pets, and wildlife conservation.

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