Certain sounds never leave us. Almost 20 years after my family and I sold our house in the Catskill mountains, my dad and I returned. Walking around our neighborhood, the crunch of gravel and distinct way the breeze hits the mountains and rolled into our courtyard felt as nostalgic as tasting your grandma's amazing cornbread recipe. I was home. Like a favorite recipe, these noises have been scratched into my soul.
Now, another neck of New York is riffing on this intrinsic connection human beings have to sound and memory with a unique offering: an immersive, so-called “iForest” hike.
The trail, located at the Adirondack Wild Center, is accompanied by scores created by a composer from across the pond, Pete M. Wyer. The British music maestro created an experience where the forest "sings" to you, in true 2017 fashion, through a series of 24 speakers. Hidden from view, the sounds will join hikers on a 40-minute walk with a composition titled "I Walk Towards Myself."
In a story on Smithsonian.com, Wyer said, “It was very much a response to nature.” He continues: “I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places in my lifetime, but I’ve never been anywhere quite like [the Adirondacks] before.”
The program is the first of its kind and is being implemented in an effort to strengthen our attachment to our natural world. But if you ask us, it sounds more like an imposition on our time in nature than an enhancement to it. There's also a distinct possibility that if you hit this Adirondacks hike in the fall, the combination of the changing colors of the leaves and the ambient music will make you feel like you're high.
If nature sounds are for you, though, there’s also a massive collection of spectacular noises of roaring rivers and sonorous thunderstorms on Spotify (type in “nature sounds” or “thunderstorms”).
Meanwhile, until I can bottle up the sounds of Davos, New York, I think I’ll stick to real nature hitting my ears over stealthily planted speakers.