Go outside and heal thyself

The New York Times recently ran an article summarizing some scientific studies that seem to indicate exposure to parks and plants can boost immunity. One of the studies indicated that white blood cell counts were elevated by 50% in men who took two 2-hour walks in the woods for two days. Other benefits cited in the studies included decreased blood pressure, lower pulse rate, and decreased levels of cortisol.

We all know Nature is good for us. Science is backing up this claim in more and more studies. Take a look at the New York Times article and think about making a permanent change to your lifestyle…Get Outside and take a hike on a trail in a park!


Technical difficulty

In our change over from Blogger to WordPress, the blog content was lost. Will repost and become active as soon as I figure this out. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Winter Hiking at its best

Cleveland Metroparks’ North Chagrin Reservation is one of my favorite places. The big, old woods of the park beckon us to explore their secrets, even in the dead of winter. From a wide variety of trees to deep cold ravines, to rock outcroppings above frozen streams, this park is truly a winter wonderland.

I took this photo of a black-capped chickadee on my hand at the overlook shelter at the end of the Overlook Trail in A.B. Williams Memorial Woods, a National Natural Landmark located in North Chagrin Reservation. People have fed them there for years, so they are very tame. It is a great place to take kids for a surreal natural experience they will never forget.

Check out a few of the trails at North Chagrin:


Do you think of yourself as a visitor in Nature, or a part of it?

In our fast-paced society, we seldom make time for Nature. When we do, it is a quick visit to a park or a short trek along a favorite trail. These brief intervals surrounded by the natural world refresh and relax us.

Then, we return to our “real” lives. Deadlines, commitments, paperwork, phone calls. What a strange way to view the world. People are, and always have been an integral part of Nature. The more removed from Nature we are, the more removed we are from our true selves.

Too often, environmentalists implicitly underwrite and perpetuate the false assumption that humans are trespassers or interlopers. Granted, we as a species have wrought horrific terrors upon the earth, and taken many concepts to extremes which threaten the health of the earth. The answer to that, however, is not a strict preservationist’s “hands off” attitude. The answer to that problem is moderation and a realization that what we do to the earth, we ultimately do to ourselves.

Living in balance, there are many uses we can make of our natural endowment that can enhance our lives and still leave the system healthy. This ultimately brings us closer to Nature, and to our own ultimate reality. Check out “Thumping Hickories,” a new essay from naturalist William Hudson, and then get outside, learn something, and refresh your soul.


Night Hikes!

Okay. We all know it gets dark early during winter, making it difficult to to lots of outdoor activities after work. Of course ski slopes are lighted, so downhill skiing is an option. But, what about a night hike?

During winter, the trees are laid bare, abandoned by those fair weather friends, the leaves. This allows moonlight to penetrate to the forest floor. On nights with a full moon, the effect is transformative. Instead of a dark, shady hike, winter night hikes under a full moon are magically alive and bright.

Try it and you will be surprised. Don’t use a flashlight. Just let your eyes adjust and get out in the woods. If you are reticent to try it alone, join an organized hike. Here are two upcoming full moon hikes being held at Cuyahoga Valley National Park:

Saturday, January 30
This easy 3.75-mile hike on the Valley and Towpath trails will begin at the Everett Road Covered Bridge at 7 p.m. and end at approximately 8:45 p.m.

Sunday, February 28
Another easy 3.5-mile hike on the Towpath Trail between Boston and Red Lock will depart from Boston Store Visitor Center and runs from 7 – 8:45 p.m.


Check out the Darke County Park District

This photo of the sugar shack at Shawnee Prairie is courtesy of the Darke County Park District.

The Darke County Park District has 12 parks with 500 acres of passive recreation opportunities. If you have never been to Darke County, it is northwest of Dayton, near the Indiana state line.


Check out a new page on the park district that we have just added thanks to Robb Clifford, Senior Naturalist with Darke County Parks: Darke County Park District, Western Ohio Parks.