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.
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“Her goal is to break the female world record for the most consecutive ultra-marathons in a row by completing 11 daily 31-mile runs,” officials said in a press release.
Hours later, I was hiking up the river, well hydrated with a smile on my face because I wasn't killing my back with all that water I used to carry. It worked!
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