The benefits of having contact with nature while hiking, and how to take care of nature so we can continue to enjoy it for a long time.
Wonderful scents rush to your nose; your eyes rejoice with extraordinary sights; your feet slowly get used to the shoes as you move along the path with a constant pace; an endless array of sounds make you feel relaxed; and maybe some bug flies into your mouth as you desperately catch your breath. Are you familiar with any of these sensations? It’s what I experience when I walk through nature and I consider it a gift to my senses, and as such, I take care of nature so I can enjoy it for a very long time. There are many scientific studies linking contact with nature to better health, so let’s talk about the benefits that hiking through the mountains brings you, and about taking care of our environment like the responsible and conscious people that we all are.
But before that… Do you have a favorite place to go hike?
In Catalonia, there are many protected natural spaces with well prepared hiking routes. An ideal place that I love is the National Park of Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, where you can take one day excursions, or a longer, circular excursion called Carros de Foc and stay in the park’s shelters that are very well equipped.
Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park is located in the province of Lleida. The main attraction here is water: crystalline water typical from high-mountain landscapes that turn into rivers, streams, and lakes.
I probably don’t have to convince you that hiking is one of the best activities for your health, but for those of you who haven’t experience it, here are some benefits. If I don’t need to convince you, let me know if you agree with me and have any other benefits to add.
Let’s do it!
1. Exercise improves your health and cleans your lungs from the city’s contaminated air.
2. You realize there’s no need to rush through life, because in nature everything has its own time. It’s a good way to slow down our chaotic lives.
3. Are you scared of spending a day without Instagram? Maybe you shouldn’t keep reading, because sometimes your phone connection won’t be optimal in the mountain, but this will make you realize how overly-connected we are all the time.
4. You meet lovely people that share the same passion for hiking «Where are you from?» «Where are you headed?» are perfect questions to start conversations and maybe a good friendship.
5. You start thinking about the things you truly need in your life. Carrying a backpack for a few days will make you see that we should substitute things for experiences.
6. Sleeping in the shelters and rising early makes you appreciate beautiful landscapes without no one getting in your way. For example, if you spend all night at the Ernest Mallafré shelter, during the morning you’ll be able to look and photograph Sant Maurici lake before the rest of the people arrive.
7. By walking you can reach places that no car can and this will introduce you to amazing sights, like the one on top of Pico de Ratera (2800m). It’s a steep climb, but completely worth it because you’ll see over forty lakes as well as some of the most important mountains of Catalunya.
As you can see, nature provides us incredible benefits, so we must not forget to care and spoil it. Now I will enter my «teacher» roll and give you some basic rules, that I’m sure most of you already know.
1. Respect the established rules of each natural space. For instance, at Aigüestortes National Park you can’t camp, so you must secure a shelter.
2. Do not bathe in rivers and lakes to avoid contaminating the water. Even if you’re hot and tired, avoid this at all costs.
3. Pick of all your trash. Keep it and throw it in a proper place when you can, like when you arrive to the shelter.
4. Respect the animals, the wild ones and the farmed ones too, including the dogs that lead the herds.
5. Donate to the preservation of natural spaces.
6. Be thankful that you’re able to enjoy nature and the benefits it provides us.
To conclude, here’s a funny sign that I found last weekend while hiking. It tells us to have a mimetic attitude. Isn’t it wonderful?
What are some of the benefits that you get from hiking? Do you have a favorite place to do it? I look forward to your comments.
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