Solo Hiking and Why You Need it in Your Life

First and foremost, I want to preface this by telling you that I didn’t want to do this hike today and this post is not going to be about how cool this hike was. My mind was saying no, no, no, noooooooooooo! at every decision point today. I was up early because I had to go into work for an hour. One hour was enough to send my mood spiraling and remind me of this panic-inducing sense that I don’t belong…

After arguing with myself the whole way home, my brain was telling me I was still tired. So I opted for a nap and settled for spending the day doing laundry, cleaning the house and prepping to drag myself to 36 hours of work over the next 3 days.

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Does this person look tired?! NO!

2 hours later, I was done with all of the chores and was excruciatingly bored, watching tv… Tyler called and asked why I didn’t hike today and I immediately felt panic deep in my chest. WHY didn’t I hike?!?! For a few minutes, I let it consume me… I was nearly hysteric with hate for living here, in this “awful” place where I feel like I don’t belong, and where any type of decent hike is 60+ minutes away.

This week has been really, really hard on me. Since I came back from Alaska, the part of my brain that holds the on/off buttons for anxiety/panic has felt broken. I’ve been feeling like I’ve lost control of, well…my ability to control it. On Monday (at work, unfortunately), I had a full-blown, blackout panic attack for no apparent reason. On Tuesday, I came scary-close to another panic attack when I was put in a situation that triggered memories of horror. Panic attacks, for me, leave me feeling like I have nothing left. I was running on empty.

But dammit, my (incredible) husband was right. WHY DIDN’T I HIKE?!

So I got up, put the panic away and I left.

The second my feet hit the ground and my heart rate began to rise, all of the panic that had been brewing inside me this week seemed to dissipate.

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I realized that while my brain said “go home, take a nap, prep for work”, my heart wanted the mountains. And I desperately needed them. I am so grateful for the silence that is nature for giving me a chance to reconnect with my body.

Taking care of your body is important but you guys, taking care of your MIND needs to come first.

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Raven Rocks

While this is only my second solo hike and I fought it every step of the way, I truly feel like hiking alone has changed me. It gives me this incredible outlet to connect my mind to my body in ways I didn’t think were possible. I feel like I belong, even though I’m completely solo. Instead of the usual sense of impending doom that comes with the night before going back to a job I despise, I feel as if this hike gave me enough mountain air to keep breathing steadily through the next few days of work until I can get back out there. Enough mountain air to pull in when I feel that sense of panic in my chest…

For those of you who are on the edge about a solo hike… I implore you to take a leap of faith, trust your heart AND your mind, and do the damn thing!

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A favorite quote of mine reads, “into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” Sometimes, I think we need just that. To find (and re-connect with) our soul. It’s painfully easy to lose that in a world that holds such unfounded societal expectations of humans, let alone young women.

We are ORGANIC, we break just like any other organic material. Finding a way to put those pieces back together and connect the feelings in our heart with those in our brain is when we can truly see clearly.

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Stay wild/xoxo– Dylan

4 thoughts on “Solo Hiking and Why You Need it in Your Life

  1. runninl8 says:

    This is so beautiful! To establish and nurture that soul/body connection is LIFE. And no better place than outside connected to Mother Earth! Even a hike with little to offer in the way of views and vistas can unveil its awesomeness when you switch up your expectations . Look for the wonders closer in. The veins of the leaves that have let go of summer, tiny life strongly springing up from a forest’s decay, the way raindrops collect in leaves to become jewels… And then there is the wonder of your own thoughts and feelings, percolating and processing and weaving your story. There is some incredible insight to be found(as evidenced by your posts!) ❤

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  2. Kathy says:

    Oh, Dylan, thank you for sharing your journey. I will soon be 66 and just began hiking alone in the past few years. I identify with your experience and also revel in the wonder of the little things. Finding our souls, so worth the experience. Much love to you. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

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  3. Jane Garnes says:

    Dylan, this is beautiful, touching and stimulating. Hiking is both physical and mental. I can hike while daydreaming and daydream while hiking whether it is alone or with my spouse. Capture the moments you spend in different solitudes and write them to us in your blog. Your photos show the sensitivity, thought, and connective nerves you feel between your being and nature. Be courageous and creative in loving life,and stay brilliant and full of discoveries.

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  4. Sara says:

    I love what you’ve written here, Dylan. The parts about anxiety and panic touched me deeply as this is something that I’ve been struggling with as well. There is nothing better than being out in the natural world to give a sense of perspective as well as relieve that overwhelming sense of fear and distress. You capture that in your decision-making and in what you have to say about your hiking. Keep going and going and going and soon you will hike yourself to a different place in life. You have the love of your husband and family to encourage you as well.

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