Hiking is My Medicine

Hiking is my medicine
Round Mountain, somewhere in Colorado. Picture taken by Artemis Savory.

There’s a stigma that people with disabilities can just “get over” those disabilities without drugs, whether it’s through exercise, hiking, eating healthier, or something altogether different. Clearly, those with disabilities are the ones who can decide whether or not that’s true.

At the Circlet Editor’s Retreat last weekend, Jennifer W. gave a presentation about how to keep writing through depression. She gave us tons of tips and she told us a lot about her own experiences as well. I don’t claim clinical depression, so I can’t speak to that, but there is one thing I can speak to.

One person in the group spoke up about a meme of a swamp with the words, “This is my Medicine,” and he said that he still needs medicine, because simple exercise won’t fix his issues or depression.

Hiking is my medicine 2
Coyote Ridge, Fort Collins, Co. Taken by Artemis Savory.

Because I haven’t been medically diagnosed with anything, I typically like to stay out of these discussions. But this time I couldn’t. I understand where people are coming from, but I felt like the very real benefits of hiking had just been cited as nonsense. So I spoke up.

“The thing about hiking,” I said, “Is that it helps you to think about a problem for hours, and sometimes you get lost on the trail, and you get so physically tired that you just can’t even think about the problem any more, because your mind is only focused on making it back home and going to sleep.” At least that’s how I do it. No one argued, so I think at least some in the group must have understood what I said. I am a proponent of exhaustion-as-healing.

For example, during the summer of 2011 I was living in Idaho and building and losing a number of relationships. Every time I got upset, I knew it was time for a hike. I would run to Erika (our manager at the time) and beg for a suggested trail. She always came through for me. When the jerk who worked next door stopped talking to me, she directed me to Bench Lakes Trail. When I made the mistake of telling a coworker that I liked him and he didn’t respond well, I stumbled up into the dusty hills behind the ranch, into the White Cloud Mountains. And when my best friend Marla ran off with her boyfriend, I drove all the way out to Fourth of July Lake where I saw miles of burnt forest before reaching anything alive.

What cures your insecurities or frustrations? Is it medication or exercise? Food or meditation? Or something different? Please share below.

Weir Hill (?) North Andover, Ma. Photo taken by Artemis Savory.

3 thoughts on “Hiking is My Medicine

  1. there is well documented therapeutic value in getting out and hiking is a big part of that. I think the physical aspect coupled with the nature aspect coupled with the “me” time to process your thoughts, is a great help.


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