I #hikeOctober because I have seen how hiking and being in nature has healed and empowered young people and myself. My love of hiking and being outside started as a young child and grew stronger as I started my undergraduate degree. I continued to be drawn more and more to hiking as I realized that spending time outside on trails surrounded by trees, streams, plants, mountains, wildlife etc. was when I felt most like myself.
Whether I am out alone or with friends, hiking or trail running, being in nature invites me to bring my whole self along. Hiking and trail running are the easiest ways for me to be present and connect my mind and body. These activities help keep my inner child alive and well. It is hard for my carefree, laughing self not to show up when I am scrambling across rocks along creeks, chasing salamanders and crawdads in streams, or bounding down trails as fast as my legs can carry me. Allowing myself to connect with this part of myself brings clarity and stillness to my often overactive mind.
The physical nature of hiking and trail running has helped me redefine my perceptions of what I am physically and mentally capable of. Running and/or hiking up actual mountains puts the metaphorical mountains of my life in perspective. I thoroughly enjoy the physical challenge that both of these activities offer, and I continue to find trails and hiking/running adventures to push my limits and push me to grow.
I have guided and worked in wilderness therapy for a number of years after college. During these years, I have seen how hiking has helped adolescents push and redefine their physical and emotional limits. I have seen how nature has turned into a sanctuary from outside family, school, and other life stresses. These experiences influenced me to enter into the field of counseling to better serve and advocate for those with mental illness. I am in my final year of graduate school, and it is only natural for me to integrate hiking and nature with my approach to helping others.
This article is part of our #hikeOctober campaign to shed light on the stigma of mental illness and to promote the benefits of hiking. 100% of the funds raised from this campaign will be dedicated to alleviating the suffering of mental illness and to wilderness trail conservancy. If you would like to learn more or add you voice to our I #hikeOctober… series, please contact us.