One by one or two by two, people stepped onto the first boardwalk and disappeared into winding trails. They walked over small bridges crossing smaller creeks, past the many wild animals roaming for food and shelter.
Sycamore Land Trust began its third all-public walk through Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve on Feb. 6. The crowd gathered in the small parking lot before the start of the walk.
Veteran Outdoor Educator and IU alumnus Shane Gibson led the event. As the crowd waited, he emerged from the trail after preparing signs, posting quotes on trees and setting up pine needle tea for the hikers to drink.
Sycamore Land Trust is a nonprofit that protects 9,000 acres of land in Monroe County, including Beanblossom Bottoms, Gibson said. This hike was the first solitude walk put on by Sycamore Land Trust that encouraged silence and observation above everything else.
“What is the peace of being outside?” Gibson said. “Sometimes you don’t get that unless you go out by yourself.”
Sycamore Land Trust member and bird watcher Christina Wray does not typically like going on group hikes, she said. However, the solitude was a good transition, she said .
“I’m a birder so usually I’m really focused on the birds,” Wray said. “So this time I challenged myself to not get distracted by the birds and just pay attention to the forest.”
While dismissing people to go into the woods in groups of one or two, Gibson read aloud from a book with a theme of nature. The IU alumnus said he does this to tie in his love of literature to his love of nature.
Aside from the forest to admire, there were many quotes attached to the trees for hikers to read. These quotes came from Robert Frost, Andy Warhol, Wendell Berry, Helen Keller and many others.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” a quote from John Muir read.
Even with about a dozen participants, the walk maintained its idea of solitude as there was close to no speaking on the trails.
“As we walk individually, the rustle of the leaves and whistles of the birds can be taken in,” Gibson said.
Sycamore Land Trust is host to events similar to this one throughout the year. The next event is Preserve-A-Preserve Day on Feb. 18.
“Unless you make opportunities all times of the year to be out, you may miss wonderful happenings in the outdoors,” Gibson said.