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I used to begin my rucks from the house, but the idiots driving without concern for the safety of pedestrians has persuaded me to drive and park at a nature preserve. Enduring traffic noise and tension on the streets began to piss me off, downgrading the benefits and experience of rucking for health and keeping my faith in humanity from leeching out into the gutters. I’m getting used to the idea of having to drive and park to go rucking, and it’s what hikers do, so I’ll quell my complaints with reluctance.

I can drive, park, and have boots on the ground at Tualatin Hills Nature Park in ten minutes, where 5 miles of trails traversing through 222 acres provides nourishment for my imagination. I pick days and times that are off-peak hours to minimize encounters with people, and fortunate for me some trails are less traveled than others, which gives me an exit strategy to seek solitude. Yes, I like to ruck alone. If I want to have my fill of humanity, I’ll go shopping at Costco on a Saturday afternoon to experience the general population.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park is a convenience and a way to get a quick fix of nature, but I yearn for Gaia’s wilderness. I find getting out into the kingdom of Gaia equates to receiving a transfusion of energy from the spirit of the land, rejuvenating my body, mind, and soul with the elixirs that nature provides. Fragrances under the forest canopy are infused with fallen debris that accumulates on the forest floor, nourishing the soil underneath with nutrients for sustaining life in the woods. Sun rays piercing down through openings in the branches and leaves illuminates what Gaia has prepared for my eyes. Acoustics are dampened under the canopy, highlighting the pitches and cadences of birds singing, accompanied by a walking bassline of forest murmurs. Spruce boughs reveal the maternal instincts of Gaia, by furnishing Her guests with the materials for building shelters and making bedding softened by the bough’s compression. A fire radiating heat from inside a circle of rocks, and spruce tea, warm my belly for a night in Gaia’s lodge.

I come out into the kingdom of Gaia to feel Her embrace and restore my health. I approach Her with respect, and leave with wisdom.