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On The Trail

Sign up now for our 5th Annual Mt. Washington hike

Summit Mt. Washington

Bask in breath-taking views of the Presidential Range. Ascent through forest, scrub, and tundra to the highest peak in the northeast. Hike above tree-line and into the clouds. Starting early in the morning, we will hike to the summit of Mt. Washington, enjoying spectacular views of the Presidential Range along the way. This hike is extremely strenuous, five miles of nearly constant uphill hiking. And worth every step! Check it out!

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Lightheart Gear Doubles Down on HIKE for Mental Health

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Once again, HIKE for Mental Health is grateful to Judy HeartFire Gross from LightHeart Gear for her donation of Hoodie Pack Covers to our 2016 prize package, and this year Judy has doubled down by offering two hoodie packs to our winner. And she updated the design with new colors and a new style for 2016! Last year, I won the awesome blaze orange (my favorite color!) Hoodie Pack Cover, an ingenious creation that comfortably covers your head and entire backpack. While I made a point to avoid rain for a while after finishing my very rainy 2015 AT thru-hike, I now look forward to hiking in the rain this spring and summer, protected by the hoodie pack cover. How can you win this year?

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Bear Mountain Oktoberfest hike slated for October 16

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Is there a better reward for the hard work of hiking up and over a mountain than finding an Oktoberfest celebration awaiting you on the other side? If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Bear Mountain, NY, come help us find out On October 16. For more details…

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Leki extends support of HIKE for Mental Health

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Thank you, Leki! Leki has returned this year as a sponsor and generously donated a pair of Corklite trekking poles ($139.95 retail value) to our 2016 top hiker prize package. We will present the registered hiker who raises the most from his/her fundraising page by November 30, 2016, with more than $1,200 worth of top-quality hiking gear, including these great trekking poles from Leki. Learn more about these trekking poles and the contest…

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Guess who will join HIKE for Mental Health at Trail Days?

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In 1973 a husband and wife along with their ten year old daughter Kyra decided to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. When they were done, the father, Mic, wrote a book about their adventure. He self-published in hard cover about 30 or so copies. Most copies he gave away to friends and family, but he set aside five copies as loaners for anyone who wanted to read them. I remember hearing this story but thought it was just folk lore. Until four years ago…

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Vasque Steps Up Again for HIKE for Mental Health

Joe and Francis chilling in their Vasque boots

We are excited that Vasque has stepped up again to contribute to our 2016 top hiker prize gear package. Last year, I was that lucky winner, and I absolutely love my Vasques. There are 5 pairs of Vasque boots in my apartment. My partner has a pair of Pow Pow II boots for winter, and two pairs of the women’s Breeze 2.0–one mid, one low. I have the men’s Breeze 2.0 low (one of the most comfortable hiking shoes I’ve ever worn, which I’ve taken out on trails but also wear as an everyday shoe) and the Inhaler low, which weighs practically nothing, is highly breathable (true to its name), and has a grippy and rugged Vibram/Megagrip outsole. You can find out much more about specific models and their features on the Vasque website, and I encourage you to stop by an outfitter and give a pair of Vasque a try.

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Summit New Hampshire’s 4,000 ft Mt. Eisenhower in July With Us

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Join us on July 1, 2016 for a 6.6 mile hike to the summit of Mt. Eisenhower near Jefferson, New Hampshire. The hike will soar above treeline to 360 degree views of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Volunteer hike organizer Adam Leiser is an experienced hiker who has covered more than 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail including the eight highest mountains in New Hampshire and 14 other New Hampshire 4,000 footers. He organized this hike because “mental health is important to me. I know countless people who could benefit from a variety of services. This is a significant issue in our society today and I want to help in any way possible.”

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Princeton Tec lights up the 2016 prize gear package!

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Two indispensable pieces of gear from my 2015 AT thru-hike were my headlamp and sit pad (a small piece of foam that had been torn from a larger sleeping pad). This year, the lighting and seating bases are covered in our 2016 gear package prize! Check out these contributions by Byer of Maine and Princeton Tec!

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Hike – or don’t hike – up Sunrise Mountain with Wendy and Pat

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Pat Horsch and Wendy Summa are back with another great hike in the NY/NJ/PA area, and this one has options for everyone! If you want to challenge yourself, do the full 10 miles loop hike to Sunrise Mountain, near Branchville, NJ, on May 22. Not up for 10 miles but still want to stretch your legs? Drive up to Sunrise Mountain, join the group for lunch and hike the 5 mile back half of the loop. Don’t worry – we will get you back to your car after the hike. Or if you are not a hiker but still would like to be part of a HIKE for Mental Health event and help raise funds for mental health research and trail maintenance, join the group for lunch at the Sunrise Pavilion.

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Mental Health News

Trek Toward Treatment

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The May edition of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Quarterly publication contains a two-page feature on HIKE for Mental Health. Hooray! We are extremely honored to be connected with this fine organization that has lead the battle for better understanding of and treatments for mental illnesses for so many decades. Read more about our “Trek Toward Treatment.”

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William Beaumont Army Medical Center Recognizes HIKE for Mental Health

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This week has been a fantastic one to visit the mailbox – see what arrived today! Thanks to all the sponsors, walkers, and donors to our Veterans Day Walk in Pearland, Texas, who made this possible. Our fantastic walk team is already gearing up for this year’s walk. If you are in the Pearland area and want to help out, please let me know.

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New Insight About Why Mild Stress Can Trigger Extreme Responses in PTSD and Other Disorders

Vaishali P. Bakshi, Ph.D.

Ever wonder why a car alarm or pop of a firework can go completely un-noticed by one person while sending the next person into a momentary panic? Researchers have uncovered new details about what happens in the brain when a mild source of stress generates an extreme response, disproportionate to the stress. Their findings identify possible targets for new medications to treat the debilitating stress responses that define post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other illnesses.

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A More Expansive View of Brain Circuits that Stop Inappropriate Behaviors

Shih-Chieh Lin, M.D., Ph.D.

Quickly halting an in-progress action that turns out to be inappropriate for a particular time and place relies on a cognitive function known as inhibitory control. In new experiments with rats, researchers have discovered a set of neurons at the base of the brain that are critical for this rapid behavioral stopping, demonstrating that inhibitory control involves a broader network of brain circuits than those previously identified.

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Exercise Treatment of Sleepiness in Depression Linked to Immune System Chemicals

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Researchers have come one step closer to understanding the intricate relationship between sleep and depression. In a recent study involving people who suffer from atypical depression, researchers were able to correlate the effect exercise has on reducing hypersomnia to lowering levels of interleukin (IL-1β), an immune system chemical, and reductions in levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports neurons and aids the growth of new ones. While both these factors are generally linked to improved sleep, this new study suggests that in atypically depressed people, high levels of production of these chemicals may be disturbing sleep more than helping.

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Rethinking How We Label Mental Illness

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If we waited until a person had a heart attack before addressing heart disease, 1.1 million more people would die each year. Yet that is exactly how we deal with mental illness today, argues Dr. Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health. He challenges us to rethink how we think and talk about mental illness.

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Groundbreaking Discovery of how Sleep Plays a Role in Mental Illness

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Dr. Kai-Florian Storch and his team of researchers suggest that sleep abnormalities are the result of an imbalance of an ultradian rhythm generator that is based on dopamine, contrary to past hypotheses suggesting that sleep abnormalities are a result of circadian rhythm disruption. This finding is groundbreaking in the field of psychopathology, specifically in regard to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

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Please Support Our 2015 Gear Package Sponsors:
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