Editor’s note: Throughout October, our #hikeOctober guest writers share what hiking means in their lives. Today’s guest is Zach Davis, owner and editor-in-chief at thetrek.co. AT- and PCT-thru hiker, Zach is also author of Appalachian Trials and Pacific Crest Trials, resources focused on mentally preparing people for a thru-hike. He was named The Top Hiking and Outdoor Blogger by USA TODAY.
The year was 2011. I was both stressed and depressed – largely the result of working on my laptop 70 hours a week. What little free time I had was filled with alcohol and even more screen time in the form of Netflix, YouTube, and the black hole that is social media.
One night out at the local watering hole, a friend confided his plan to hike from Georgia to Maine on a path called the Appalachian Trail. This was the first time I had heard these two words used consecutively. Despite not having any outdoor experience or a clear path to escape my current obligations, I committed to join him. Five months later, I was stepping foot onto Springer Mountain, the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus. Five months after that, I would reach the trail’s northern terminus at Mount Katahdin.
In no uncertain terms, my time spent thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail was the most transformative period of my 32 years on earth to date. Here are but a few of the takeaways:
Hiking taught me the healing powers of nature – that time outdoors is an essential nutrient for the mind, body, and soul.
Hiking taught me patience, both with myself and others – that a preoccupation with the future is a dysfunction of the present.
Hiking taught me humility – that we’re largely out of control, and the difference between enjoying the ride and struggling against the elements is a choice.
Hiking taught me that sanity lives in simplicity, and I’m at my best when in balance.
In short – hiking is my educator, my reset button, my bliss. I am infinitely grateful for the lessons I’ve absorbed thus far and those I have yet to learn.
– Zach Davis
Click here to learn more about #hikeOctober, an annual program to raise awareness of the challenges of mental illness, fund mental health research and conserve wilderness trails. #hikeOctober is free to join, open to hikers with all experience levels, and an easy way to have your walk in the woods, or around the block, make an impact!