Top 5 things to take on a Nature Walk

Feather in Hand on a Sunny Day in the Park

A friend of mine was wondering what are the top 5 things that I would suggest taking on a nature walk and I loved this question!

Let's first define a nature walk, which to me is a specific outing that you choose to take to connect to nature and I'm assuming it would be a more dedicated space of time that is set aside as a specific activity.  Keep in mind my definition can be very different from yours!  This type of outing that I'm suggesting is not the same as say, putting on some shoes and walking out the door.  Something spontaneous like this (a quick walk) is fun and can provide many health benefits to counteract a stressful day or the need to feel more connected but you may not need to bring a ton of stuff.  That being said, what I'm suggesting below may benefit any type of outdoor nature walk!

What is a Wild. Here. nature outing? 
- a slow meander through a meadow to identify insects
- an exploration of a new path to a water feature
- a more focused nature-therapeutic walk in the woods
- an early morning outing to a popular urban birding location
- a sunset wander to visit a favourite green space
- what else could be a nature outing in your eyes?



Ask yourself these questions:

What does "nature" mean to you?

Do you enjoy active or passive activities outdoors?

What piques your curiosity or gets you excited?

What are your favourite nature outings?  They may be different than mine!


For me a nature walk (as you can see from the above list) is all about connection and discovery and slowing down to notice what is around you.  A nature walk can be done close to home, even on the edges of a park to see what wildlife and native and naturalized plants are part of your local environment.  And some of the best nature walk can be urban - getting you out in the elements and providing delight and reflection nearby.


So my recommendation on what to bring so as to benefit in the best way from these types of nature walks includes:

Your Curiosity

Connecting to nature and taking it all in is best done with a curious mind that is interested in exploring - both in terms of paths and directions and also in terms of taking a more detailed look at what is around you.  Ask yourself questions, look for interesting details, observe differences and invite your inquisitive side to join you on your outing.



A Sense of Playfulness

Nature provides a great opportunity to reconnect with your child-like wonder and fun side.  This can be another side of curiosity - experimenting and seeing things in a different light but it is also accessing your creative, spontaneous side.  If you are on your own or with a good friend/partner you can even sing, dance or act silly outside.  Think of fairies, imps, gnomes and other fantastic creatures that made life fun as a kid.  Find a fun hiding spot or look for a tree to climb!


An Open Heart 

Even if you forget to "bring" this you will probably find opportunities to connect to a more open heart.  Especially if you are at a walking pace and can slow down and really connect with all five senses.  An open heart will help you see how everything is interconnected, how the circle of life rejuvenates or at least bring a sliver of light to periods of grief.  I like to look for signs of hope outside and touching the tangible - tree bark, soft blades of grass, water really helps to calm and ground and provide some peace.


A Desire to Slow Down 

When I'm going into nature, for me, if I want to get the most out of it, I need to bring my desire to slow down, to speak with more consideration (if I'm with friends) and to bring in mindfulness to help quite my racing thoughts.  This can be the opposite of my sense of playfulness but if I allow time for both, it really allows for a richer connection and deeper satisfaction after my outing.  Nature offers this amazing opportunity to seek out stillness and peacefulness and I always want to spend a couple of minutes at least to let this seep in and resonate deeply.


Trust 

Trusting that whatever unfolds is right for me in the moment is a big one.  Allowing the ebb and flow and not resisting is what I'm trying to bring to my daily life - not only in work but also in my personal life.  Having less expectations can make any outing better and asking myself questions about what the lesson is (of any good/bad experience) helps me reframe certain things so that they are easier to accept.  This doesn't of course mean that I should trust every scenario or every "thing" that I encounter (safety and caution is always foremost recommended!) but it does help to build optimism and provide a space for courage to grow.


And just in case you were hoping for specific recommendations of what resource, equipment to bring here are five things I'm always wishing I had if I find myself on a nature outing and NOT prepared:
  • My hand-held zoom camera or binoculars
  • A local plant identification book (or app)
  • Some water (I'm really trying to get better at being hydrated throughout the day)
  • Knowledge of the closest washroom (near the outing location)
  • A small knapsack with a towel or small sheet that I can use to rescue an animal and a plastic bag so I can pick up and dispose of the trash that I see.


You may also want to review these two Wild. Here. Explore posts that include these lists and tips:

Tips for Your Comfort and Safety

Urban Wild Explorer Pack List


Thanks so much Wishing for Horses for the question!



What do you bring on YOUR nature walks?  

Do you have any questions for me - feel free to email me with your thoughts and/or ideas for blog posts!

Photos 2 & 6 taken by V. Glazduri

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