Hike Therapy

I’ve long maintained that the worst place to live is in your own head. My friend Heather assures me that it’s North Carolina, but NC has some really good hiking. And my feet love to hike. I joined a meetup.com hiking group earlier this winter. In part to get out more, meet some people, and move. But also in part to keep from going insane. My desk-job keeps me pinned down in a windowless bunker during the only moderately sunny parts of the day, and downtown Winston Salem isn’t the most friendly to walkers after dark. So, I joined a small group of weekend warriors to conquer the hills. This last weekend we hit it hard: 14 miles and 2,500 feet of elevation. And our little group- not a one would I call “hard core” – tromped along merrily. It was a great hike, and everyone stayed in a good mood, despite 20 stream crossings, blisters, really stupid hills, and the company of relative strangers. Nearing the end of the hike I called the experience “Hike Therapy” and it seemed to touch off something in most members of the group. Personally, I needed to hike while I was doing my doctorate just to burn off some energy and keep myself grounded. But other people’s motives were moving. One woman talked about losing her husband 4 years before, and using hiking to climb out of depression. Another talked about finding stability amidst the stresses of raising children as a single mother. A third woman talked about her ex husband not letting her do things, and exploring the world for the...