Coupled with the importance of proximity to old friends and family, easy access to wilderness was a big reason why my wife and I decided to move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
California is lucky to fall second only to Alaska as having the most wilderness area in the nation, but while living there, we soon discovered that much of that territory had become crowded and overrun, often to the point that it provided anything but an escape. Nearly every weekend, we found ourselves driving farther and hiking deeper into the mountains and forests in order to find the wild experiences we were looking for. We would spend 16 hours in the car driving to some remote region of California, Nevada or Oregon in order to have a full 24 hours of solitude. In turn, we landed in some places we never thought we would, perfected our off-road driving skills, discovered unnamed hot springs that still don't exist on the internet, and even had a run-in with the elusive Mountain Lion.
In the three months that we've been here in Chattanooga, I've found so many unique and diverse landscapes within an hour or two of town, and the nicest thing about them is how quiet and empty they are. Perhaps the chilly winter winds and overall brown hue of the East Tennessee landscape are keeping folks out of the forest this time of year.
Setting this time aside to be in the woods has worked wonders for my overall outlook on life. It has allowed me to familiarize myself with my new backyard, and given me time for uninterrupted thought. It has helped to clear my head, creating space for new ideas.
I've found that when you immerse yourself in the still and quiet of a remote and simple landscape, those things that are most important to you and situations that need to be worked out will make their way to the forefront of your thoughts.
I imagine that after I am here for a while, I could begin to take all of this empty space for granted, that I might forget the value of a morning trail run or evening hike. May this post serve as a reminder to make time and consideration for this important practice.