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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.

LAST UPDATED

June 4, 2022

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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 wordsfromthewild.net

MEDIA MENTIONS

While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere

MEDIA MENTIONS

SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team