Wednesday, May 6, 2015

World as Classroom: The Perks of Hiking

Ramapo Valley Reservation    (photo: Jan Barry)

By Brianna Farulla
I was never an outdoorsy type of person until this year. It actually all began with fitness. I’d go for walks, then those would turn into runs and eventually I decided to give hiking a try. All it took was a single experience for me to completely fall in love with the activity. Certain places that I’ve ventured to have introduced me to a newfound love for the environment.

My favorite spot is undoubtedly the Ramapo Valley County Reservation. I never even knew the area existed just down the block from my campus until I stumbled upon it one day during a break between classes. I was immediately blown away by the beauty of it. The waterfall, the swans and the blossoming trees, along with all its other aspects, gave me an urge to return often.

Ramapo Reservation trail   (photo: Jan Barry)
I told my friends from home about the county park reservation in Mahwah and they weren’t opposed to checking it out. Once I brought them there to witness its beauty, they too agreed to making a trip there a weekend routine. Over time we’ve managed to find various trails, but we always wind up taking the same one. When you get to the end of it, you literally feel like you’re on top of the world as you glance down at everything below. The feeling of being so high up in such a serene environment, especially on a nice day, is irreplaceable.

More recently, we’ve been going to a local place, since Ramapo can be quite the drive. Therefore, Garrett Mountain, in Woodland Park, has been our new location lately. You can sit atop of the mountain and see the entire New York City skyline. The modern Freedom Tower never fails to glisten in the sunlight. There’s always odd wildlife running around too. Just last week I came face to face with a turkey, which was definitely a first for me. It was comical to watch it try to fit in with a group of deer as it made noises that I never even knew that turkeys were capable of making.

Not only have places like Ramapo and Garrett proved to me that our environment still has a bit of charm to it, despite all the negativity that it’s prone to, hiking has allowed me to feel more in touch with myself. Sometimes I’ll bring a notebook, lay out a beach towel and write. The scenic views are capable of clearing my mind and bringing out my creative side, unlike anything else. Some great thoughts, good music and gorgeous surroundings are all of the factors that I need to feel at ease. Hiking has been nothing but a beneficial experience to my life and without the environment, I’d never be able to do so.

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