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Heather Anderson Talks Mental Health and the Trail

I completed my first thru-hike in 2003… and haven’t stopped since. Depending on what criteria you use to define thru-hiking, I’ve completed at least 15—including being the only woman to complete the Triple Crown three times.

I think we can all agree that the time we spend hiking and the feeling of joy when we achieve something as huge as completing a thru-hike is a part of why we do it. But there’s a flip-side to this that is seldom discussed.

That’s the period of blues or depression that frequently follows the completion of a long journey. Earlier this month on the Gossamer Gear blog, several ambassadors shared their experiences with the post-hike depression that often follows a thru-hike.

As a repeat thru-hiker, one of the questions I get—asked one-on-one, quietly, and shyly—is if I still have post-hike depression. The answer is yes… and no. A depressive period following a huge endeavor is absolutely guaranteed, at least on a biological level. After months of your circadian rhythm being in sync with the sun, hours a day spent exercising, and unlimited fresh air and clean water, your body, hormones, and nervous systems are going to be upset by a transition to sitting on a couch indoors with artificial lights. I still experience this.

Find the full article written by Heather “Anish” Anderson here.


October 22, 2023

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Heather Anderson

National Geographic Adventurer of the Year

Heather Anderson is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, three-time Triple Crown thru-hiker, and professional speaker whose mission is to inspire others to “Dream Big, Be Courageous.” She is also the author of two hiking memoirs Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home and Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail and a preparatory guide to long-distance hiking Adventure Ready. Find her on Instagram @_wordsfromthewild_ or her website

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