By Scott A. Yeager for GANT News
Physicians of old used to prescribe their patients time in the fresh air, as it was believed to be vital to both a healthy lifestyle and to the rejuvenation of one’s constitution.
As Autumn breaks in the Pennsylvania Wilds, the bugles of elk eager to continue their bloodlines and the crackle of crisp leaves carried upon cool breezes beacons many to our hallowed hills in search of things seldom seen in other regions of our Commonwealth.
A comfortable pair of jeans, the soft warmth of a hooded sweatshirt and a competent pair of shoes are all that are needed to begin an experience that will provide you with what the old doctors ordered.
Whether you are atop Rockton Mountain, venturing along the Clarion River or deep within the piney silence of the Allegheny National Forest, your feet, the fall air and a friend or two can set you upon a course that is as free as the eagles, blue jays and crows that soar along the treetops.
You have left one world behind with your very first step and have crossed into a realm more special than what might meet the eye upon first glance.
It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. To be sure, any new venture in this human life of ours is about taking that first step.
It takes courage to step off of the pavement of interstates, highways and by-ways that ribbon their way through the PA Wilds.
Rewards await those who step beyond the familiar into those regions of our world new to the mind.
If it is the divine that you seek or if it is the divinity within yourself, a single step into an Autumn woods in the Pennsylvania Wilds is the first step in liberating yourself.
Free is the mind that builds itself a cathedral among hemlocks or between mountains vivid with hues finer than any of the stained glasses found in the great houses of worship in this world.
Humble yourself, leave your ego on the paved road, and take a cleansing breath. Your next step will feel like the quick, sharp snap that a snake experiences when it sheds its worn and weathered skin in favor of something new and clean.
And like the snake slithering out of its former skin, your senses will heighten, your vision will clear and you will come to celebrate that which was ever there within yourself that has now manifest itself as a miracle for all to enjoy.
While there are many miles of trails and paths to explore in destinations like Parker Dam State Park, Clear Creek State Park, Black Moshannon State Park and throughout the Elk State Forest, one can often find greater reward in the forest of their choosing.
The diverse waterways and lakes that reflect the vibrancy of the fall canopies overhead are ideal for exploration, especially if it is wildlife that you seek.
Every creature seeks some form of rejuvenation near the water’s edge. Humans are no different. Afterall, we are creatures of both water and air.
A journey along the water’s edge can be the best medicine for most modern maladies.
Many people find respite for their souls and minds in the Autumn woods. There is something to be said for finding that spark of courage within one’s self to break from the ordinary, to step into an alien environment and to open yourself to the experience.
You don’t need a predetermined intent, nor do you need a plan. Just be and be yourself. The natural world is celebrating life in transition all around you.
You can join in that with little effort on your part – just take that first step into something bigger than yourself, something wild.