Want to Temporarily Escape The You-Know-What? Here’s How To “Walk In the Woods” Virtually

With more states like ours — Maryland and Virginia — joining the “shelter-in-place” club, finding a way to get outdoors but maintain the appropriate social distance is increasingly difficult particularly in urban areas, and the stress of it all can be really draining.  There is a wealth of resources to help you get outdoors — albeit virtually — if you cannot easily get to a secluded place to enjoy nature safely. If you want something bold or exotic, try a virtual expedition with a National Geographic Explorer.  Even a one-minute “walk in the woods” in silence like the one above in Federica Park on St. Simons Island, Georgia can provide instant relief from our new relative captivity.

Why This Matters:  We will get through this — but it won’t be easy.  Even the President, who had wanted social distancing orders to be lifted by Easter, has now said that it will be at least the end of April before that can happen safely.  Spending time outdoors provides a needed release.  According to National Geographic, researchers studying the physiological benefits of “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere” demonstrated that time spent immersed in nature is good for us — and that was even before we had been ordered to stay home. Just think of it as a virtual adventure and the sky’s the limit!

Spanish Moss – Walk a Coastal Woodland 

Emily Ellison, Executive Director of St. Simons Land Trust said, “There have been times in the last week when, hiking on Land Trust properties, the only sounds I’ve heard are my own footfalls and bird calls. It is a surreal experience to be out in nature, where everything seems as always — the same sun and sky overhead, the familiar smells of pine and marsh, the fetterbush (pictured above) blooming as it always does this time of year — and yet know that so much has changed.”  For a peaceful interlude, check out the Land Trust’s series of short walks through Guale Preserve here.

The Wonders of the Last Wild Places in the Ocean

National Geographic’s latest expedition took place earlier this year — they explored the ocean off of the Kawésqar National Park in southern Chile, home to some of the healthiest kelp forests on earth, as well as shallow water colonies of cold-water corals — a unique ecosystem that is extremely important to the functioning of the entire region.  Or explore the remote island of Malpelo, a UNESCO World Heritage site off the coast of Columbia, which is recognized as one of the best diving sites in the world with steep walls and underwater caves containing an abundance of marine life.  Check out Ascension — a tiny volcanic island created by the collision of remote undersea mountains along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, part of the longest underwater mountain range in the world.   There are more than 25 expeditions to experience virtually — and each one is breathtaking and will definitely take you places you would likely never visit otherwise!

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