I #hikeOctober because HIKE for Mental Health came into my life 2 years ago in 2015. It was like getting a real purpose to my obsession (goal, bucket list, or whatever you want to call it) with hiking. Knowing that the accomplishment of my enjoyment can help others makes it even better.
I think the Appalachian Trail became a goal when my fourth grad teach talked about being out on a trail, for 6 months, living in a tent, and hiking for miles and miles. The thought just stayed there, and the older I got, the quicker I was ready to retire and just start my adventure with life. This was something that I knew I would do.
Our family was an outdoor family, camping in a tent every year on vacation, and living what I knew was the good life. At 18 I went to work for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This job had good benefits (lots of vacations) and a great retirement program.
In 2013 I had surgery after I injured my knee hiking. I was overweight and at that time started a weight loss program. I managed to lose 120# and when I retired in 2015, I knew I was headed to the Appalachian Trail. I was on the trail for approx. 300 miles (about 2 months). I reinjured my knee and had to come home.
I have made so many new friends, several new best friends, and more goals in my hiking future. Right now I am ‘section’ hiking the Appalachian Trail, hoping to finish this goal. I am looking forward to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and maybe even Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
– Ray Coffield / Beep
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.