Several weeks ago I came across an article on forest bathing…a term I’d never heard of. Forest bathing (also known as Shinrin-yoku) is a Japanese preventative health technique instituted back in the 80’s that involves walking calmly in the woods…gently breathing and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the atmosphere. General studies have revealed that spending time in nature promotes human health…improves memory, increases attention span and reduces stress – even looking at nature photography can help too!
And wouldn’t you know it that today there’s an article in the Washington Post about forest bathing! “So whereas a nature walk’s objective is to provide informational content and a hike’s is to reach a destination, a Shinrin-yoku walk’s objective is to give participants an opportunity to slow down, appreciate things that can only be seen or heard when one is moving slowly, and take a break from the stress of their daily lives.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned…having a camera in my hand provides that opportunity to slow down and take it in…and even more so in nature. The article goes on to state that “another possible explanation for forest bathing’s soothing effects involves our sense of awe when viewing natural beauty”…and natural beauty can certainly be found in New Mexico.
So on my list to experience was to soak up the sights, smells and sounds of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument about 40 miles outside of Santa Fe. The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the results of volcanic eruptions that occurred some 6 or 7 million years ago. Amazing to think that some of the formations reach as high as 90 feet.
The higher in elevation the more interesting the vegetation…often clinging to the cracks and crevices on the cliff face…
A vibrant pop of Indian paintbrush surprised when least expected…
Don’t get me wrong…hiking to the top was breathtakingly beautiful…but it was spending time in the initial 1/2 mile into the canyon that just blew me away. As a lover of detail…this is where I could spend hours photographing. Over time…wind and water cut into these coned-shape rocks creating slot canyons with curvy walls and deep, long, shady passageways.
This is a moderate 3 mile hike with a few areas that can be a little tricky trying to maneuver with a camera in hand…but with forest bathing you take your time and soak it in!