|Fairmount Park overlooks Philadelphia from Belmont Plateau|
|Educating novice hikers on Wissahickon Thru Hike, Philly Mega|
As a result, many people back away from going deeper into a park out of fear they didn't even know they had. These potential park users are unable, then, to benefit from the physical and psycho-spiritual aspects of being active in nature. (I know this from experience - just four years ago my fear of the unknown kept me from enjoying my local hiking trails. That's why I'm so committing to helping others find their path into the woods.)
And by the way, I've not just heard this talk here in Philadelphia. I'm a long-time observer of human interactions in open spaces, and I've seen this in places like D.C. and Pittsburgh, Newark, Miami, Los Angeles and Boston - parks and recreation can be a battle zone where political landmines abound. Often times those who can make the most money on a park improvement plan do not have interaction with nature as their primary objective. Sure, they sell the idea of development on access to nature, but too often, fear of going into wild spaces permeates neighborhood culture, especially as population and park usage increases.
|Overcoming fear on my fist 10-mile hike, Blue Hills Reservation, Boston Mega|
Consider this: Successful treatment of many psychological disorders hinges on access to nature as treatment. Getting active in nature while undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce a patients' reliance on pills - just ask any honest doctor. Those in recovery, ex-offenders and individuals affected by PTSD can find soul-healing solace under a canopy of green. Watching as the sun's flickering rays highlight the significance of something so minute as the multitude of shades of moss on stones or chipmunks wrestling along the trail can do wonders to re-set the tendency to think of oneself as the center of the universe.
|Healing time, alone in the desert mountains, LA Mega's Coachella Valley|
For more information on hiking in Philadelphia - or if you're interested in parks and hiking and are from any of the 20-some megalopolitan areas of the world - like the "Hiking Megalopolis" page on Facebook to get involved with our growing online community!