My cousin used to work in Utah doing wilderness therapy with teens. The kids who came to her had hit rock bottom; they were juvenile delinquents whose parents forced them there as a last resort. Counselors took them into the desert for weeks and exhausted their minds and bodies, taught them about constellations, survival, and goals. It was a wildly (excuse the pun) successful program. Bruce Feiler, who hosts "Walking the Bible" points out that the desert forces dependence. "It makes a person have to reach for something higher." Putting the Israelites in the desert could not have been more perfect. They had to connect with God; they had to depend on him.
I've heard people claim nature is their sanctuary, where they best worship God, and I always sort of figured it was a line for getting out of church. (Judgey, I know!). But apparently they're on to something. It makes me want to do some prayerful hiking. Just not for forty years.