I won’t even attempt to sugarcoat it—2020 has kicked my tail, up one side and down the other. This year has wreaked havoc emotionally, spiritually, professionally, physically.
I feverishly worked to keep my business afloat while home schooling my kids; I lost the dearest man and patriarch of my family; I watched in utter disbelief at the fractured state of our nation and the Mississippi that I love; and I found myself facing some very personal, private realities that seemed like pouring salt in an already gaping wound.
I know I’m not alone, but I also know my problems pale in comparison to many trudging through the dumpster fire that is 2020.
As I found myself shamelessly wallowing in self pity and neglecting all forms of self care, my husband suggested a trip, just the two of us, to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“But what about somewhere tropical,” I asked, imagining myself vegging out on a beach somewhere. His birthday was coming up, so I sucked it up and agreed to help him mark another spot off his bucket list.
I bought an ugly, yet practical, pair of hiking shoes and pants that were much too close to the cargo family for me. I made plans to fish, hike, and go without makeup for a week, like the martyr wife that I am.
We landed in Jackson Hole and were greeted by crisp temps, the towering Tetons, and golden aspen trees that were simply showing out. Not so bad, I thought. Travel is always my go-to release, but I had been extremely anxious about leaving.
It was my first time to fly since the coronavirus outbreak and arranging schedules for my kids and taking time off from work was all just enough to send me into a mini spiral. I was having a really tough time switching into vacation mode.
The next morning, we set out on our first hike. We headed to nearby Jenny Lake, a spot known for breathtaking views of the Tetons and wildlife. After roughly a quarter of a mile with no phone service (which is key), we came to a clearing where all you could see was a stunning panoramic view of still waters, majestic mountains and the bluest skies.
It quite literally took my breath away and I found tears rolling down my cheeks. It was like the contamination of this hellacious year was rapidly leaving my body. I realize that it sounds so extremely cliché, but I swear creation and fresh air began to heal me in that moment.
By the time we completed our 9.5 mile hike, complete with fox, buck, and waterfall sightings, I was a new (albeit exhausted) woman—ugly shoes and all.
Hiking outdoors, taking it all in, offers a wide range of benefits that differ from many other traditional forms of exercise.
It was like the contamination of this hellacious year was rapidly leaving my body. I swear creation and fresh air began to heal me in that moment.
The mental and physical health benefits of hiking include:
- Calorie Burn
You’ll be surprised how many calories you burn just simply exploring. By all estimates, women are likely burning around 400 calories per hour.
- Heart Health
Moderate to high intensity aerobic activity helps improve circulation, blood pressure levels, and heart function.
- Anxiety and Stress Reduction
When hiking, you’re most likely going to be on rocky trails, climbing hills or mountains, so you have to be aware of your surroundings. Paying attention to your every step has a centering effect on your mind. Plus, I’m a big believer that fresh air (especially in this masked world we find ourselves in) is medicine.
- Building Strength
Hiking is much more than just cardio. It’s a combination of aerobic activity and muscle building. Sexy legs, here we come!
- Appreciation for Nature
Nothing can compete with the beauty that surrounds us in nature. Hiking is a great way to be reminded that we are beings in a beautiful world.
When you’re feeling off, melancholy, or antsy, lace up and take a hike. You’ll be glad you did.
WHERE TO STAY in JACKSON HOLE, Milk Punch style
Hotel Jackson, 120 North Glenwood Street
Rustic-chic boutique hotel steps aways from restaurants and shops around the Town Square.
The Four Seasons, Teton Village
Take in the view of the towering Tetons near one of the many welcoming outdoor fireplaces with your drink of choice in hand.
MUST-USE HIKING APP:
Download the Alltrails app to help find and navigate trail maps with length of trails, elevation and more helpful info.