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The Boathouse Blog

The Brain and Nature

At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we see it every summer. Our pre-trip meetings are filled with guests excited about the adventure to come, but uneasy about leaving behind devices and “connection”. Yet once the group embarks into the wilderness, it takes a little time, but the feeling of “being in the moment” takes over. On the first day, the “ghost limb” sensation of reaching for the vibrating phone in a pocket or the need to check email slowly fades. The awe of the river and the beautiful landscape takes over. The quiet soothes the mind, the soul, and calms us down. Then laughter, fun, and conversation with family and friends build the new connection- to place, people, and the experience.

And the thing is, this rejuvenation of the mind is not just something we see and feel, it’s a real thing. Now more than ever, researchers are finding that we need “time out” from our devices and our multi-tasking culture to refuel our minds. Throughout history, great thinkers have taken to the outdoors to refresh their minds and nurture their creative spirits. Today, the pull of technology on our attention is taking a toll on our pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain handles our emotions, problem solving, and critical thinking, among other things. The repeated brain-drain takes a toll on us – from affecting our emotions, to reduced motivation and distraction.

So what is the answer to “recharging” our minds? It exists just outside. Research shows that activity in the pre-frontal cortex slows down when people are exposed to a natural environment. And we feel the effects ourselves as guides here at WWRE – once we reach the river and push off from the boat launch, there are no more distractions but the task at hand. And we see it with our guests over and over. Relaxation takes over and the trip ends in testimonials like these:

“A Winding Waters River Expeditions “glamping” get-away is the perfect antidote for stifling summer traffic jams and the daily grind.”

“–The scenery: Un-freaking-believable. Just go see it, my description will not do it justice.
–The wildlife: cougar, big horn sheep, deer, turkeys, eagles, just to name a few.”

“Our trip was a four day, three night adventure on the Salmon River. Very quiet, peaceful, and no crowds. There were several options available from a SUP, kayaks, paddle rafts to large rafts where one just embraces all the beauty.”

“This was one of the best vacations I have had in a long time. The crew served as our guides, our chefs, our hosts and our constant inspiration. The whole time I was on the river I was completely in the moment, forgetting any worries of the past or future.”

And with so many of our country’s wild places under fire, it’s more important than ever to get out and enjoy their beauty. The more we know and love them, the more we’ll strive to protect them for future generations.

Come experience some of our nation’s most wild places yourself on one of our many whitewater rafting adventures.