Forest therapy guide and educator Julie Hepp, left, and Chris Morgan walk through the woods on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
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Forest therapy guide and educator Julie Hepp, left, and Chris Morgan walk through the woods on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Chris Morgan sees a forest therapist

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about this magazine article I picked up in a doctor’s office called “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.”

It was too long to finish before the doctor came, but I couldn’t wait to get out of my appointment so I could go back and finish it.


Chris Morgan touches the ground during a forest bathing session with Julie Hepp, a forest therapy guide and educator, on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
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Chris Morgan touches the ground during a forest bathing session with Julie Hepp, a forest therapy guide and educator, on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer


You know when you’re out in the woods or walking along a beach and you feel healthier and happier? I had always wondered, why is that really?

This article had the scientific proof to back up my lived experience: Nature can lower your blood pressure, fight off depression, help you sleep – it may even help prevent cancer.

All that’s needed is a walk in the woods, away from the noise of our lives.

Forest therapy guide and educator Julie Hepp walks on a log during a forest bathing session on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
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Forest therapy guide and educator Julie Hepp walks on a log during a forest bathing session on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer


There’s a place near me I often go for a break. It has always reminded me of something that the famous naturalist John Muir once said, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

He wrote that in 1901 – imagine what he’d make of today’s world!

Forest therapy educator Julie Hepp, left, and Chris Morgan, right, engage in a forest bathing session on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
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Forest therapy educator Julie Hepp, left, and Chris Morgan, right, engage in a forest bathing session on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer


One of the things the article talks about is the Japanese concept of Shinrin Yoku, which literally translates into “forest bathing.”

Turns out, I didn’t have to jump a flight to Japan to experience this – I found a local forest bathing therapist named Julie Hepp (this is the Pacific Northwest after all). Hepp is a certified forest therapy guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.

“Forest therapy really is a way to build connection and reciprocity, meaning really just connection and interaction, and sort of ways to show gratitude,” Hepp said. “The experience is up to you. I am just here to open up the door.”

9717a132f5d1b74c9ec5d48313ccbc92 mp4 thumb 00001.png?ixlib=rails 2.1 Video Icon 2 mins
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Credit: KUOW Video/Megan Farmer


Forest therapy guide and educator Julie Hepp walks through the forest on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
Enlarge Icon
Forest therapy guide and educator Julie Hepp walks through the forest on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer


The idea that spending time in nature makes us feel better might seem obvious.

It’s nature that connects us all. We were wild, and there’s a big part of us that still is wild, a bigger part than we might imagine in this crazy modern world we’ve built around ourselves.

But I’m hoping that we remember that embracing nature can change us and society for the better. In return society should take care of nature. What a great relationship that could be.

Perhaps it all just starts with a walk in the woods.

A sign that reads 'There is a spirit in the woods,' hangs on a wall on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
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A sign that reads 'There is a spirit in the woods,' hangs on a wall on Friday, January 18, 2019, at IslandWood, a learning center on Bainbridge Island.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer


On this episode of The Wild, go along with host Chris Morgan as he participates in a therapy session with Hepp. He also talks to his original inspiration, Florence Williams, who wrote the article he found in his doctor’s waiting room.

Past episodes of The Wild:

The Wild is a production of KUOW in Seattle in partnership with Chris Morgan Wildlife. It is produced by Matt Martin and edited by Jim Gates. Fact checking by Apryle Craig. Our theme music is by Michael Parker. Produced for the web by Kara McDermott.

Explore where we have gone to report on this season of The Wild. You can zoom, move around and click on the icons for more tidbits: