Testimonial by Javier Ramirez

I visited the Angeles National Forest for the first time recently and was pleasantly surprised at how much it had to offer. I got there early in the morning and was greeted with crisp air, peaceful silence, good company, as well as soothing nature sounds. I joined a group hike to Gould Mesa Trail Camp which is a 4.2 miles round trip hike via the Gabrielino Trail. I got the chance to meet some new people along the way and get out of my comfort zone a bit. I’m pretty introverted so I tend not to speak so much in large groups. However, being in nature and observing different things we passed by, gave me the opportunity to have conversations about topics I normally wouldn’t have with people I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t decided to take a hike.

Observing birds, plants, rock structures, and appreciating how they all coexist and affect each other is something that’s normally hard to do in the city due to the fast pace most people live their lives to. I hope that people can learn to appreciate what’s there before it changes. I believe you’re more in the moment in nature. My hope is more people become aware of the effects of appreciating nature, and the opportunities that can arise from going outside and taking that step towards a more active lifestyle. Mental and physical health can receive a boost from taking hikes or simply from taking a walk every day.

I think it’s important to preserve nature by leaving it untouched. For me, being out in nature lets me focus on the things I feel are often taken for granted. Birds chirping, the sounds of running water, as well as the sound of your footsteps as you walk on a trail are very relaxing for me. I can decompress and feel energized by observing my surroundings. It’s something I really enjoy and hope more people can learn to appreciate. Time passes, and things change so let’s enjoy these things while we can.