I love walking through the woods, along streams, and around lakes because there is so much to see and discover. There are eagles, osprey, beaver, turtles, and a host of herons. There are old foundations, overgrown driveways, and ancient trees. I feel like an explorer finding new bits of information that all form the fabric of Columbia’s past, present, and future.
I go almost every day and see something new every time I go. I also like to go with others because we all see different things that we can point out to each other. These walks help me develop a greater sense of place and comfort in the area where I live. They also allow me to relax, think and put my life in order.
I have found that others like walking as well, my daily encounters result in “friends” that I pass with a wave or a smile. But walking outdoors is not as common. as you would think. Many people today do not find the time in their lives to take a respite exploring the great outdoors. Some have told me they are scared to go by themselves and others say with disdain that they don’t like going out on walks because there are spiders, snakes, and mud. But most people do not go because they don’t think they have the time.
There is a great deal of research on the benefits of a walk in the woods. A 30 minute walk makes us healthier, more creative, more productive, and happier. Regular walks can be physically restorative and help to prevent a myriad of injuries and diseases. It appears that a walk in the woods is even more important for busy and stressed people. I think we will see more doctors in the future prescribe that their patients start a regular walking routine to combat a wide array of health issues.
In my professional life, I have found that taking a walk with others can be a very effective way to discuss awkward topics. In addition to a bonding experience it can be a more humane setting to bring up challenging and often emotional issues. Walking side by side is much more comfortable for most people versus staring at each other across a desk. It is also great for brain-storming. We are starting to see a trend across the country where employers are starting to encourage their employees to take time everyday to go for a walk.
I like taking others on walks to inspire them to get back in touch with the natural world around us and to learn more about our history. I love to share some of the wonderful paths and places that I have found and hope that my fellow walkers will fall in love with these treasures as well.
If this sounds of interest to you, I hope you will join me on a series of walks that I am leading for the Columbia Association this summer and fall. Come out and discover some of the wonders in your own backyards!
The schedule of walks and meeting locations includes:
Aug. 20: Lake Elkhorn — managing nature, stormwater and our growing population. Meet at the docks across the street from the McDonald’s on Cradlerock Way.
Sept. 10: Jackson Pond — nature connectivity and why we have so much wildlife. Meet at Phelps Luck Neighborhood Center, 5355 Phelps Luck Drive.
Sept. 24: Lake Kittamaqundi — enhancing human connectivity as Columbia grows. Meet by the People Tree down at the Lakefront Plaza, 10221 Wincopin Circle.
Oct. 15, Middle Patuxent Watershed in River Hill — explore the streams and woodlands of River Hill. Meet at River Hill Pool, 6330 Trotter Road.
Oct. 29, Wilde Lake — urban ecology around our oldest village. Meet at the boathouse off Hyla Brook Road.
Take-a-way: Sign up now for the first walk on Thursday, August 20 at 10am. Open.Space@ColumbiaAssociation.org