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Visiting These 8 Hiking Cities in the US will Help You Reconnect with Nature

Visiting These 8 Hiking Cities in the US will Help You Reconnect with Nature

In the past, people have lived on this earth as just a part of a large system of flora and fauna, constantly alert and always keeping themselves busy with both mental and physical tasks to help ensure their survival. This required us to be in tune with nature, which meant shaping our body’s biochemical makeup a certain way and made us develop a particular set of basic instincts and emotional responses.

However, we are now far removed from the harsh conditions that molded us into who we are today, and quite simply put, these bodies were not made for sitting around in chairs all day, breathing stale air and pulling all-nighters with nothing but a coffee jug, salty or sugary snacks and a dim artificial light to keep us company. It is time for us to start reconnecting with nature, and a good old hike is a fun and simple way to do this.

The great outdoors has plenty to offer

When I say that we need to reconnect with nature, I don’t mean it in the cliché hippie or new age sense, because using tons of drugs and hugging trees in the park is not quite what these bodies were made for either. I simply mean that spending time outdoors, engaged in a physical activity that taxes the body, can be highly beneficial to our mental and physical health. It is best to find decent lightweight hiking equipment and get a bit of training before heading off into the wild — you don’t want your backpack weighing you down too much, so you’ll want to pack only the essentials and build up stamina with some light running first. With this in mind, let’s look at some US cities that you can visit if you want a break from your everyday life and are looking for a place with great hiking opportunities. Each of these cities will allow for a comfortable stay, so you can explore the beautiful nature around them during the day, and have warm bed to sleep in at night.

1. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Deseret Peak

    A big city with plenty to see, Salt Lake also offers a lot in terms of scenery in the surrounding area. The 4-mile Bell Canyon to First Waterfall trail lets you take in the beautiful waterfall and two different reservoirs, the last one requiring a bit more stamina to reach. For more experienced hikers or those with a good level of fitness, the 7-mile Mill Fork Trail leading up to Deseret Peak is a great option.

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    The trail takes you to the 11,031 foot summit, with a breathtaking view of the surrounding area for miles on end, ensuring that you’ll get a new appreciation for the natural beauties that the US has to offer. It’s fairly easy to find a decent place to stay without breaking the bank, and there is a lot to see.

    2. Fort Collins, Colorado

    Fort Collins Horsetooth Rock

      Home to Colorado State University, this lovely town has a number of hiking trails rated as moderate close by, and some cost-effective places to kick back and relax after a long day of exploring. The 6.2-mile Horsetooth Rock trail reveals an astonishing rock formation resembling a series of, you guessed it, giant horse teeth, with the Horsetooth Falls gurgling nearby.

      The short 1.8 mile Gem Lake hike reveals some fairly unusual and stunning rock formations, while some of the Hall Ranch trails can be an arduous undertaking, but are good for those who have some experience with mountain biking.

      3. Blacksburg, Virginia

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      Blacksburg Cascades

        Home to Virginia Tech and a stone’s throw away from the Jefferson National Forest, Blacksburg is a lovely little town with plenty of great hiking trails nearby. You’ll find acres upon acres of old-growth forests a majestic sight. Threading down trails like the 5-mile Cascades National Recreation Trail that takes you by a lovely 66 ft. waterfall, the moderately difficult 7.9-mile Mcafee’s Knob or the demanding 4.6-mile Dragon Tooth Trail with a stunning panoramic view from the top.

        There are some good affordable accommodations to be found with all the modern commodities one would expect from one of the South’s best college towns, making Blacksburg an excellent place from which to begin exploring the exciting trails of the Jefferson National Forest.

        4. Sedona, Arizona

        Sedona rock formation

          A small town nestled between truly amazing red sandstone formations, the kind you see in old westerns and cartoons, Sedona will inspire you and take your breath away. Although it has a small population, it is an incredibly popular tourist destination and has many motels, hotels and cozy cabins in the wilderness, which make finding a room relatively easy.

          As for the trails, you can try the Huckaby Trail and the Soldiers Pass Trail, which are relatively easy and take you through plenty of gorgeous terrain that look like they were painted by a skilled artist. More hardcore hikers or climbers will enjoy the Cathedral Rock Trail, which is more of a steep climb than a hike, but the view is unparalleled.

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          5. Portland, Oregon

          Oregon Multnomah Falls

            Portland is the largest city in Oregon and not what you would consider a rural getaway, but it is located on good land with tons of hiking opportunities and untamed nature. There are a number of good hotels catering to those on a budget. The Columbia River Gorge features lovely waterfalls, while the Oregon coastline, a little over an hour away, offers exceptional hiking trails and a combination of rocky terrain and beaches.

            During winter, go down to Mount Hood National Forest where you’ll find the 4-mile Twin Lakes Snowshoe Hike and the 4-mile Salmon River Meadows Snowshoe Hike, both challenging but exciting and fun experiences. There is even a fun 50 Hikes Challenge for the biggest outdoors enthusiasts.

            6. Jackson, Wyoming

            Jackson Hole Paintbrush hike

              Jackson lies on the southern end of Jackson Hole, a wonderful area featuring some astonishing sights. There are inns and lodges that allow you to get a more rural experience. The area is great for backpacking and both long and short hikes.

              The 22-mile Dunanda Falls trail takes you through absolutely mesmerizing terrain and is not too difficult to manage, while the 19-mile Paintbrush to Cascade, another all day hike, takes a bit more effort. But the resulting view is jaw dropping and leaves you in awe. There are even lama hikes and treks available for all the animal lovers out there.

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              7. Asheville, North Carolina

              Ashenville Craggy Pinacle

                The city of Asheville is home to the largest weather data archive in the world, the United States National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and features exciting mountain trails that offer wide panoramic views. From fairly easy hikes, like Hooker, Triple and High Falls, to moderate trails of Great Craggy Mountains with romantic lookouts like the Craggy Pinnacle, and even some fairly difficult hikes like the 10 mile Cold Mountain summit trail in the Pisgah National Forest, the area surrounding Asheville has something for everyone.

                There are tons of lovely bed and breakfasts that are ideal for couples, and a fair share of hotels. Whether going in a group or with a significant other, this is the perfect location to experience nature and give yourself a welcome break.

                8. Fairbanks, Alaska

                Fairbanks Granite Tors

                  Alaska is a wonderful state to explore, with pristine areas of nature unspoiled by human hands, and Fairbanks definitely won’t disappoint. Traditional log houses are perfect for anyone looking for an authentic nature experience. Although they are fitted with all pf the modern commodities, they still provide a specific ambiance that you won’t find anywhere else.

                  Some of the better trails include the 3.4-mile Angel Rocks trail rated as moderate and with plenty of lush greenery and wildlife, the 15-mile Granite Tors Trail that goes through magnificent terrain with plenty of colorful wildflowers, and the easy 2-mile Savage River Trail that is a good choice for beginners. Since there are a lot of bears and moose in the surrounding area, it is best to bring a large caliber firearm for safety, but actual animal attacks are very rare.

                  Even if you haven’t had much experience with hiking before, it is a good idea to head out to one of these cities and go into the majestic wilderness surrounding them. There are plenty of health benefits to be had, including increased stamina, improved heart health, weight loss and stress relief. But you will also get a sense of what really lies beyond the concrete jungle that we live in. The experience of reconnecting with nature will change you for the better, and it is something everyone should try out.

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                  Ivan Dimitrijevic

                  Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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                  Last Updated on September 10, 2019

                  7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                  7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                  Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

                  Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

                  This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

                  One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

                  Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

                  Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

                  1. Gratitude

                  Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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                  The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

                  Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

                  So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

                  Gratitude-Quotes

                    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

                    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

                    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

                    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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                    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

                    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

                    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

                    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

                    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

                    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

                    write down goals

                      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                      6. Rise Earlier

                      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                      More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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