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Nature Therapy Outings - 

River Walks

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Nature Therapy Outing - Rockfish River Walk


Where: Howardsville, Va - we will convene at The Howardsville General Store (3340 James River Rd; Esmont, Virginia 24562).

Duration of Outing: It depends on the participants, but most outings last 4-6 hours

Difficulty: Moderately Easy - the most difficult aspects of this outing are the short (but steep) bank that leads to the river and keeping your footing on the few areas where the landscape can be slippery.


Unlike "Workshops", which aim to teach a specific skill, "Nature Therapy Outings" are geared toward reestablishing a connection with the natural world, something which so many folks are in need of these days.

That's not to say that you won't learn anything during an outing - you will! You may learn how to navigate a set of riffles in the river or how to identify certain plants and animals, but these "skills" are not the main focus of the adventure - relaxing, destressing, and practicing mindfulness to achieve grounding and balance are.

Feeling frazzled? Disconnected? Stressed? Do you anger easily, feel tired all the time, or feel like something is "missing"?

You are not alone.

As a society, we are unbalanced and ungrounded. We fight hard to make ends meet, climb corporate ladders, attend to our families, get the best deals at the grocery store, and fulfill our personal goals. This takes it's toll - we are insulated from the natural world by glass, concrete, and even the rubber soles on our tennis shoes. We are subjected to artificial lighting and powerhouse stress. We watch our bank balances and stock market trends as if our lives depended on it. We spray our homes, our pets, and even our children with all manner of chemicals to keep them "clean" and "healthy".

We're masters of multitasking, speed, and efficiency.

We are constantly "doing". We do not take the time to just "be".

And it's killing us.

When was the last time that you were delighted with mud on your feet rather than wanting to clean it off? Maybe when you were five?

When was the last time that you sat on a partially submerged rock in a shallow river and let the riffles rock you gently as you watched the currents pass by? Ever? When was the last time that you studied the petals on a flower or the veins in a leaf to the point where you actually saw the patterns that the most brilliant mathematician of all - Nature - coded them with?

Come with us to do these things and more - build beautiful and fascinating creations of stone and wood in the stillwater shallows or create patterns on the river bed from submerged rocks and leave them in secret for others to find on another day. Forage for mint and lay in the sunshine on a sand bar while savoring it or slowly scope out the long stretches of wooded banks in search of elusive Paw Paw trees. Make your way up river to the "Gar Neighborhood" and stand still in the clear water while these secretive and inquisitive fish come close enough to touch or don a mask & snorkel and swim with the Red Tails, Shiners, Bass and Perch in the fast moving water. Seek out amazing plants and learn of their healing properties, lay in a carpet of moss and watch the trees sway overhead, or grab a panning set and squat in the shallow water while panning for gold, mica, kyanite, quartz, and all of the other beautiful rocks and minerals native to our area.

The possibilities are endless, and at the end of the day, regardless of which outing you choose, you will have mud on your feet and peace in your spirit. You will be tired but energized, and will have remembered what a powerful thing it is to connect to the natural world that we belong to.

What to Expect for This Trip:

~ We will meet at the Howardsville General Store to go over the trip, will get to know one another a little, and determine if anyone has any special requests/needs, such as assistance walking down the bank (particularly if you have knee issues), who our strongest swimmers are, and who may be a little apprehensive about being in the water. We will depend on one another for sharing conversation, ideas, and assistance during the outing, so being at least somewhat comfortable with each other before we go is a big help.

~ Earth Goods will provide a limited number of supplies for the outing, including waterproof bags, collection boxes and nets, sieves, and the like. These items are meant to be shared between participants, and using them is NOT a requirement. However, we find that it's hard to go to a place as full of life as the Rockfish River and not want to see some of the inhabitants "up close and personal". The critters that you will encounter here include tadpoles, frogs, fish (everything from the tiniest minnows to 4' Longnose Gar), the occasional American Eel, Brown Water Snakes (no, they are NOT poisonous), turtles, snails, and lots of other things. To get a glimpse of what this river looks like under the surface, take a look at our Native River Tank.

~ Once we go over the basics, we will make the 10 minute drive to the river (you are responsible for your own transport until I can afford a bus :).

~ Upon arriving at the river, we will meander around a little, get to know the surroundings, and become comfortable with the characteristics of the water and the environment.

~ Once everyone has had a chance to say "Hello" to the river, we will explore the different ways to become grounded and immersed in the natural world. This often leads to meditative states, reduction of stress levels and, frequently "Aw - is it really time to go already?!?" comments.

~ Concluding the outing depends on the participants - most folks are ready to head back after a few hours. Some like to stay longer. Some want to go home and ponder the experience, while others want to meet up later to discuss it. The choice is yours.

How to Prepare:

~ Prepare as you would to go swimming, BUT - wear sensible clothing and shoes that are geared for being in the water. You're going to be sitting on rocks and wading through a natural landscape - shorts and a sensible shirt work a lot better than a bikini. As to footwear - old tennis shoes or water shoes work well. Bring a towel!

~ If you have a mask/snorkel set, bring it. If you don't, let us know - we have a limited number of them.

~ If you have a waterproof camera, by all means, bring it along - the landscape beneath the river's surface is breathtaking in many areas, and the fish are friendly.

~ As to sunscreen, bug spray and other things: the area that we will be visiting is partially shaded. If you are extremely fair skinned or require the use of sunscreen for health reasons, we understand. If you can get by without it, that's for the best, as we are keenly against depositing harmful chemicals of any kind into the waterways. The same goes for bug repellent - we rarely have issues with mosquitoes because most of the water we encounter is flowing, and not conducive to hatching larvae. Bugs are a part of nature, so yes, we're going to encounter them, but we tend to accept their presence rather than trying to fight against it. Please do NOT use strongly scented lotions, perfumes, or other toiletries on the day of the outing.

~ You should bring water and a snack or two. The Howardsville Country Store is NOT open on Sundays!

About the weather:

Nature Therapy is about immersion in the natural world, not protection from it. We do not cancel Therapy outings due to light or moderate rain. Heavy rain that would make the trip miserable or previous rains that have caused the area to be unsafe are both grounds for postponing an outing. Participants will be notified via email and/or text of any conditions that may make it necessary to postpone. In the event that we encounter a thunderstorm while in the forests or on the water, appropriate safety precautions will be followed, including seeking shelter and/or leaving the area should the storm prove to be truly dangerous, which is a lot rarer than you might think - most storms are a wonderful opportunity to experience the raw power of nature, rather than something to be fearful of.

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